Now that Google’s new pay-for-play Shopping is in full swing (the changeover took place October 17), the company used its earnings call to share thoughts on its success thus far, and its future vision for the product. Additionally, Google execs came out with some tidbits about the status and future of other elements of its advertising business.
According to SVP and Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora, the company is listing more than a billion products from tens of thousands of merchants and over 100,000 sellers. (The distinction is that marketplaces — such as (Etsy or eBay — could be comprised of many sellers.)
… we believe being able to do product listing ads gets us closer to intent because if somebody types a Nikon D800 then we know they are looking to buy or looking to get more information about a specific product. And the fact that we can show them reviews, pictures and pricing information gets us closer to action. And we believe in the medium term that’s going to create more monetization and a better monetization for us as opposed to having just 10 blue links of ads that would send them to other websites. So I think that’s going to have a good impact in the medium term, I don’t think I’m going to comment whether that has an impact [on Google's financials] in Q4 or not.
The advertisers participating in Google Shopping are seeing an impact, though, according to the execs. Adorama camera, one of the biggest photo retailers in the U.S. saw its click through rate jump by 176% when the company began using product listing ads, and their conversion rate was up 100% in June as compared to the previous years.
And CEO Larry Page says more changes will be coming to Google Shopping. “There’s much more we can do to get you the right information at just the right time,” he said on the call, later adding that “I think we are still in the early stages of that.”
Goals For Google Shopping
One goal, according to Arora, is to reduce the number of steps from search to transaction, “making the online experience even more valuable to consumers and marketers.” But Google, at least according to product manager Jon Venverloh, doesn’t want to host the transaction itself. At the recent SMX East conference, Venverloh pointedly noted that the customer and the transaction will belong to the merchant, and not to Google.
One way in which the speeding from search to transaction is already happening is Google’s mobile click-to-call ads. Arora said click-to-call ads are now generating 20 million calls a month to AdWords advertisers.
The Future Of AdWords Across Devices?
The other aspect of the earnings call I found intriguing was Page’s hinting at how the company will be developing its advertising products to optimize for a multi-screen consumer experience. The gist is a vision of an advertiser creating one ad that would be delivered and optimized across multiple devices automatically:
I think we are really starting to live in a new reality, one where [there is a] kind of ubiquity of screens. Apps users really move from intent to action much faster and more seamlessly. I think this will create a huge new universe of opportunities for advertisers…. Focusing on platform-specific queries won’t make much sense because advertisers will be dynamically adapting across a whole bunch of different devices to reach the right audiences at the right time. And that’s kind of how we are thinking about it and I alluded to changes that we’ll make to our ads system to improve the advertiser experience and the user experience around that.
And a little more on the same topic:
…we want to make advertising super simple for customers. Online advertising has developed in very device-specific ways, with separate campaigns for desktop and mobile. This makes arduous work for advertisers and agencies, and means mobile opportunities often get missed. So we’re working to significantly simplify the campaign experience, working very hard on that. Advertisers should be free to think about their audience, while we do the hard work of dynamically adapting their campaigns across devices.
Not sure what that will mean in reality but it sounds like Google wants to use labor-saving technology to customize and optimize across platforms. I can’t imagine current marketers would object unless they didn’t have the option to go manual instead.