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In a string of new updates, Google has announced a new product listing ad format for called Showcase Shopping Ads. We explore what these are, why Google are giving advertisers and users this ad format, as well as ensure that we give you actionable insight to help you prepare for the holiday season.


The hubbub…

Marketing Land

Search Engine Land

Adweek

Inside Adwords

TechCrunch


Introducing Showcase Shopping Ads

Earlier this year, we used our crystal ball to give you some insight into what we might expect to see this year for Google Shopping (read this here). We predicted a specific ad format for “broader” search queries such as “dresses” or “furniture” to appear in the search engine results page (SERP). According to Google, around 40% of search queries are “broad” in nature; which can cause headache’s for them when it intends to provide the user with the most relevant results. Quite often, Google would show a product listing ad that it deemed would be the most relevant; for “dresses” this could be a blue dress, long dress, or a midi dress as an example.

If you really thing about it, this doesn’t really make sense.

Advertisers now have an ad format where they can showcase more products and more information to help answer the broader search queries better. Google are helping to drive further relevance for the user whilst they are in this ‘Discover & Explore’ phase of their purchase journey.

It’s an ad format that understands the context in which the user is in. A user is interested in the products you sell, but not necessarily looking for your brand. Showcasing your product inventory in this way is like a window display for your brick-and-mortar store. I might walk past your store and see something that I like in the shop window, and go in. It’s the same with Showcase Shopping Ads!

What are Showcase Shopping Ads?

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping Showcase Ads

Credit – Inside Adwords (2016)

It’s an ad format for Google shopping which helps people further explore & discover what they want to buy, and where they want to buy it. It provides rich content about your business and your product inventory. In the Google SERP, it lists the seller name and has 1 main image, with 2 smaller images next to it. Alongside this, you can have a promotional message or the distance to your store if you are utilising Local Inventory Ads. As you can see, users are taken to a google hosted storefront page listing the sellers product inventory relevant to the search query. Via the announcement, Google have given the following example of a use case…

For example, if a shopper searches ‘summer dresses’, ASOS, a global apparel retailer, can now showcase its collection of dresses in a visually rich experience (Inside Adwords, Tuesday 12th July 2016).

Why are Google introducing Showcase Shopping Ads?

It’s an ad format which understands that users searching in this way are looking for inspiration & ideas and they are exploring & discovering. Google understands the context to which the users are in, and are helping to provide them with the answers that they are looking for; by giving them more content & product options.

Frustration for users & advertisers

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping Showcase Ads

We know that this year, Google’s focus is on giving advertisers more ad formats to target users at the moment that matter, and for users to get the answers they need for the moment they are in.

These terms are very ‘browsy’ in nature, and don’t necessarily provide Google or advertisers with any clues as to the user’s exact intent. For advertisers who work to a last click and ROI model, it can sometimes be quite frustrating for us as we aren’t able to target these users more specifically in Google Shopping like we can with keywords and text ads. Yes we can add negatives and optimise the feed to help drive further relevance, but ultimately it’s Google who have the control over the way the ad is displayed.

This ad format satisfies the user’s need at that moment, allowing them the option to browse your product inventory as they would if they were window shopping. It’s important to note here that an advertiser will only be charged for a click to site from the product image, rather than being charged for a click to the storefront on Google. This is surely attractive for advertisers as it limits the amount of wasted spend that they might see from users in this stage.

Frustration for Google

Google’s issue was around deciding which products to show to a user. It needed a way to be able to aggregate products as to help drive the relevance they needed for users. Now, they will be able to showcase more products therefore increasing the chance of a click.

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping Showcase Ads

What do we need to do to prepare for Showcase Shopping Ads?

  • Showcase Shopping Ads will automatically start to appear in the Google SERP this month for merchants running shopping campaigns in the US, UK and Australia.
  • Remember, this will now be the standard ad format for ‘broader’ queries moving forward for Google Shopping.
  • There is an experimental premium option for some merchants which allows sellers to customise the way in which their brand and products are showcased. Google is curating this and FYI there does seem to be a pricing structure which has yet to be defined.
  • Google have updated their Shopping Guide to Micro Moments (here) for you. If you are unaware of what these are, this guide gives you the background and insight you need to target users in the moment that matter most.
  • Shape up your Merchant Centre feeds. You can find most of the information you need here, but we would recommend focusing on the following in particular…
    • GTINs – you can find out why here.
    • Colours, Title Testing, Google Product Categories are all also used by Google to help understand your product inventory. Get these up to scratch as soon as possible!
    • High Quality Images – there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a blurry image on your mobile. Ensure it’s the highest resolution possible to give users the best experience with this new ad format. Find out more here.

Summary

Remain vigilant. It’s a major change, keep an eye on your data over the next few months and pull regular Search Query Reports to see the impact on these terms. Hopefully we should all see the benefits. Who’s excited?

PPC hubbub - Google Showcase Shopping Ads

Dan Roberts
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Dan Roberts

Founder & Author at PPC hubbub
Dan is a Google Shopping Specialist and was recently awarded Rising Star at The Drum Search Awards for the work delivered for his clients, agency and wider industry. Dan founded PPC hubbub after becoming frustrated with the lack of actionable insight and meaningful points of view for the industry.

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Dan Roberts
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