Google announces new online-to-offline features on the cusp of the holiday shopping season
The announcements are aimed at giving brick-and-mortar retailers greater visibility on Google search properties.
Google’s focus on local search the past couple of years has some expecting local search traffic to play a heightened role for brick-and-mortar retailers this coming holiday. Google is now teeing up some new shopping features and reporting capabilities ahead of the holiday shopping season.
The announcements, made by Kishore Kanakamedala, director of product management for online-to-offline solutions, and livestreamed at 8:15 a.m. ET from SMX East in New York on Tuesday morning, include ways for retailers with brick-and-mortar locations to drive and measure more store visits from Google properties.
Kanakamedala said that mobile is “now the anchor of the customer journey” and cited Google research showing mobile ads generate 160 percent more incremental store visits compared to desktop and tablet and that local ad efforts such as local inventory ads drive an 80 percent higher rate of incremental store visits.
Local inventory tie-in to Google Assistant
With voice searching becoming an ingrained habit for more consumers, Google is tying local inventory data into results provided via Google Assistant.
When users ask their phones or Google home, “Okay Google, Where can I buy _____ nearby?,” Google will show a list of local inventory results on their phones. To be eligible for inclusion in local inventory search, retailers need to upload their local inventory feeds to Google Merchant Center.
Local inventory in display ads
Earlier this year, Google added location extensions to display ads. Now, Google is adding a local inventory display ad format that features promotions and local products from a retailer’s inventory feeds.
The pilot for this new local display ad format is now open to all advertisers that set up display campaigns and upload their assets, including a feed and images.
Store visits measurement updates
Kanakamedala said Google has now measured more than 7 billion store visits globally.
Along with the introduction of the local display format, Google is adding reporting for impression-based store visits. The ability to measure store visits without needing an ad click is a fairly significant development on the trajectory of Google’s store visits measurement capabilities.
Google is also introducing three new reports to AdWords for store visits:
- Time lag report — Shows the time between an ad click and a store visit.
- Demographic report — Users can add store visits as a column to existing demographic reports.
- New vs. returning customer report — This will show how many of store visits come from repeat customers. “Together with the time lag report, this can help you gauge how your ads drive incremental visits,” Kanakamedala said.
Apparel shopping updates
In mobile Shopping results for apparel searches, users will soon see filtering options for sizing, pricing and other criteria. The listings within Google Shopping are bigger and feature brand logos.
Earlier this year, Google rolled out support for Showcase Ads in AdWords Editor and the new AdWords interface. These are the ads designed for broad category queries that feature three product images related to the query. Google said Tuesday that early tests have shown Showcase Ads to drive an increase in brand searches and click-assisted conversions leading to a purchase when compared to standard Shopping ads.
People are watching other people shopping on YouTube
If unboxing videos were the big thing a year or two ago, Google says YouTube “shop with me” videos, in which people take viewers into stores, and store tour videos, in which, yes, average people give viewers tours through stores, have seen watch time grow over 10x on mobile in the past two years.