Search Supplement – Exploring Google Shopping

Will Haydon

Google Shopping is a very interesting and increasingly important area within the PPC landscape, which has seen numerous changes in the last couple of years. For those of you unfamiliar with Google Shopping; it is important to provide a quick outline of how it works. Google Ads will use your product data contained in the Google Merchant Center to display your Google Shopping product ads next to the most relevant search terms. This process involves a Google feed, which is linked to your Merchant Center account, with all the relevant information that Google Shopping needs to build and advertise your Shopping placement.

Our team picked up on quite a big change in Google Shopping coverage last month; whereby the Google Shopping Showcase ads on mobile devices were subject to a greater amount of space on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). It appears that Google started testing a new, more prominent Shopping Showcase ad format on mobile devices, as shown below:

This extra space included more information from the traditional organic knowledge graph such as product details (size, pixilation etc.), user reviews and a drop-down capability to further increase the Shopping (and Knowledge Graph) domination on the SERP.

So, what does this mean for Shopping ads? If Google was to hold firm with this change of format on the mobile SERP; it may allow advertisers using Google Shopping to increase their dominance on mobile search coverage. It seems however, in the last few days that Google have decided to not opt in with this Beta. Nonetheless, this kind of test does highlight Google’s focus on Shopping first, when it comes to their advertising model. With this sort of attention on Shopping from Google Ads, Brands that invest heavily in Google Shopping might be better placed to have greater visibility on the mobile SERP and hence, would be likely to see both higher mobile traffic and conversion rates from prospective consumers. Whereas, brands that either do not want to use or are not eligible to use Google Shopping, could lose out.

For brands that utilise both Shopping ads and traditional search campaign ads, a more heightened focus on Shopping visibility could perhaps be considered somewhat detrimental. This kind of change would mean that the text-based and arguably more informative ads will be further down the mobile page and not in direct view of searchers, as Shopping ads would be seemingly prioritised in results coverage.

Another impact of Shopping dominating the SERP could be that advertisers will most likely have to spend more with Google Shopping to get to the optimal position on the mobile page. This could potentially compromise investment in their other areas of PPC activity, depending on the level of competition in an advertiser’s sector. Eventually, a greater Shopping spend trend could see decreased brand and generic investment across mobile devices, as the focus becomes dominating the SERP through optimally placed Google Shopping ads.

In addition, Google is currently testing the power of Google Shopping with Google Images as well. Searches for something generic such as, “sim deals” in Google Images will be greeted with a carousel of Shopping ads at the top of the page to further drive consumers down the path to purchase.

As Google Ads appears to become more “Shopping First” in its approach to innovation and results page coverage, this type of development is one to watch closely for all us working in PPC.

If you enjoyed this, don’t miss the other editions of Search Supplement.