Google Shopping has been busy over the past year and is growing up fast. In case you haven’t heard, they’re adding features at a rapid pace, taking Shopping from a fairly simplistic platform into a much more robust one. It’s interesting, since aside from upgrading PLAs to Shopping campaigns, the features have seemed largely static for quite awhile now. Well, no more…as Shopping continues to grow, it looks like Google is starting to pay more attention to enhancing the experience, both for users and for advertisers. This is especially true for mobile users, which are now an enormous share of Google-users vs. desktop. (Remember how every year was “the year of mobile”? We made it.)
Let’s have a look!
Local Inventory Ads
Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) aren’t necessarily a brand-new thing, but they were in limited testing for awhile. Late last year, Google expanded the program, coinciding with them releasing measurement of store visits. LIAs got a lot of retailers excited, as many carry products in-store that they may not online for multiple reasons. This feature allows them to still show in search results, and direct the customer to the closest location for purchase, helping to bridge the online/offline gap for a more multi-channel experience. It removes the need for the user to have to go to a retailer’s site and then figure out if they can buy online or if the item is in-store, and the retailer gets in front of the customer earlier in the buying process. You can read about the requirements for participation here.
The “Buy Now” Button for Mobile
Ah, this was a huge deal when it was released just a couple weeks ago. Google unveiled what they call “Purchases on Google,” which allows the user to buy directly from the search ad. It had been in limited testing previously with some really large retailers. The purchases actually happen on Google still, via a merchant-branded page that’s hosted by them. The payment for the purchase is made via the user’s saved payment information in their Google account. The charge is still on a CPC basis – there’s no revenue sharing involved for Google. This is a very important step for both Google and retailers, actually. Mobile is now a formidable chunk of where users search, but often didn’t have the same conversion rates as desktop. That creates problems for retailers, who can’t justify spending on mobile if it doesn’t convert, and an even bigger problem for Google, whose search inventory is largely mobile. It will be interesting to see if the “Buy Now” button can help solve this problem, and how retailers fit this into their workflow.
New Shopping Feed Tools for Retailers
Google gave a nod to sellers both big and small with this update.
For large retailers with frequent update needs, there is now Online Product Inventory Feeds. This new feature imports changes faster, without the need to re-submit your entire product feed for processing. There are still a small number of required fields: Product ID, Availability, Price, Sale Price, and the Sale Price Effective Date.
For smaller retailers, there is now an add-on for Google Sheets that will validate their feed and throw warnings up for errors. This saves the merchant the lather/rinse/repeat cycle of uploading their feed, waiting for errors, fixing them, re-uploading, and so on. Once they validate everything via that Google Sheets add-on, they can upload their feed right from the same pane, with the status verified in the right-hand column that shows.
Now more than ever, Google Shopping is growing and adding features at an exponential rate. We can’t wait to see what else comes up this year…now if they would just allow some version of keyword targeting, I’d be even happier!