2016 has been a big year so far for Google. From the reorganization of the SERP to the new ad format policy to the addition of Google Maps to the Search Network, the search landscape has evolved rapidly in the past few months. Just last night, Google released its latest announcement in a spree of updates. Moving forward, Shopping ads will be eligible to appear in the Google Image search results for mobile devices.
As you can see from the gif above, when a user searches for a product through Google Images on their mobile device, they’ll receive a carousel of Shopping ads above the organic image listings, coupled with a series of buttons to further refine their search. Even better, if these advertisers are running local inventory ads, they can now include a store pickup link to further customize their Google-hosted product page.
What Prompted Google to Make This Switch?
Google explained that the goal behind this change is to improve the user experience for its image search functionality. Many shoppers begin their research using Google Images. When they find something they like, they’re forced to click through to the website to see whether the product is actually for sale and how much it costs. Shopping ads are a natural fit for this venue since they provide merchant and pricing information directly alongside the image. This is especially useful on mobile devices, where jumping from website to website can be particularly challenging.
Extending the Search Network to image search is also an ideal way for Google to combat the growing prominence of Amazon. As Jillian D’Onfro at Business Insider points out, more and more consumers are now starting their product searches on Amazon. In fact, this study found that a whopping 44% of searchers head to Amazon first, while only 34% turn to search engines. This is a troubling stat for Google, as it could have a dismal impact on their ad revenue. Adding ads to image search will entice more searchers to start their shopping process on Google. This could be the game-changer it needs to protect itself from the growing threat posed by Amazon.
How Will This Impact My Shopping Campaigns’ Performance?
Now to the important part—what does this mean for online retailers who are running Shopping Campaigns? First things first, I should point out that Google Support indicates that Google Image Search is not yet part of the “core” Search Network (which is composed of Google Search, Google Play, Google Shopping and, as of last month, Google Maps), meaning it falls under search partners. Only advertisers whose Shopping Campaigns are targeting search partners will be impacted by this update.
For those running Shopping Campaigns, be prepared for your impressions to skyrocket now that ad inventory has expanded to a brand new venue. With this spike in impressions, you’ll likely see an uptick in clicks, meaning your budget will be exhausted more quickly than usual. This is definitely something to keep an eye on and be prepared to make adjustments to.
Since you’ll be getting even more visibility, take the time to optimize your ads to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. Remember, Shopping Ads on the standard search SERP do incredibly well because they’re served alongside text-only ads and organic listings. On the Image SERP, competition is steeper, since you’re competing with other images! Take the time to update your ads with super high-quality photos. While you’re at it, you should also check to be sure your pricing data is up-to-date and your destination URLs are directing traffic to the correct landing pages.
Finally, don’t forget to enable negative keyword for added protection against unqualified traffic. Mining your Shopping Campaigns’ search query reports is an easy way to identify new negative ideas.
Aside from those basic tips, we’ll just have to wait to see how this plays out. My suspicion is that most advertisers will see a positive shift in Shopping performance, but we’ll be sure to keep an eye on the data here at WordStream HQ!
About the Author
Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was named the 3rd Most Influential PPC Expert of 2015 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.