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Google Shopping on Image Search & More

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping Image Search
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Google have officially launched Google Shopping on Image Search. Woop Woop! In the same announcement Google have also launched deeper integration with the Knowledge Panel, introduced ‘Store Pickup’ links to Google hosted local product pages, and given us an update on the much anticipated ‘Buy on Google’ button. As with any new Google update, this is all currently focused on being Mobile first with Desktop & Tablet all in the pipeline.

What does this mean for users, advertisers and retailers? Is integration of Shopping on Image Search a game changer? We explore all of this and, as usual, we give you actionable insight that you can use for your Paid Search campaigns.

The announcement summarised…

  1. Google Shopping on Image Search – will be available from Monday.
  2. Store Pickup promotion link is available for those using Local Inventory Ads. This allows merchants to make it easier for merchants to order online and pick up in store for selected products; something Google recognises is on the rise for Mobile.
  3. Inventory Search from Local Panel – deeper integration with your product inventory via your ‘Google Shop’. Where users are already looking for directions and store opening times, Google will now allow users to search their product inventory. Remember, this is only for advertisers that have Local Inventory Ads.
  4. Growth in Google Express – this is obviously proving to be a success and is growing to cover around 120million people in the US. One to keep an eye on for other countries.
  5. Continued testing of Purchases (aka Buy Button) on Google. Basically, Google are still doing small tests here and will only do wider testing once they are confident that it is working for both retailers and users. Initial stats prove promising though with nearly a 50% increase in Conversion Rates and 25% decrease in cost-per-conversion.

It’s important to note that all of the above is only available on Mobile and Google are working to expand this over to Desktop & Tablet soon. However, as we mentioned in our previous blogs; most, if not all, new Google products and updates will be made for Mobile first.

Google Shopping on Image Search

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping on Image Search

We saw it coming (see previous blog). Finally Google has announced Shopping on Image Search, which is by far the biggest update from the recent announcement. Its an obvious move for Google who are looking to capture more customers in these ‘micro-moments’ such as “i needs some ideas on…”, “which one is the best…” and “where can i buy…”. This is why they have launched Shopping on Image Search; allowing advertisers to show an ad related to the Google Image the user is looking at, potentially condensing the path to purchase.

What does this mean for you?

The first thing to remember about this is that in order to be eligible to show a Shopping ad on Image Search, you have to be opted into Search Partners in your campaign settings

For me, this is where my concerns lie for advertisers and retailers.

With Search Partners being an ‘opt in’ option only i.e. you cannot have a Search Partner Only campaign; you cannot manage the performance separately

This instantly makes it difficult to manage, since you can only segment on reporting and therefore cannot optimise separately. With the introduction of Google Shopping on YouTube via different formats by opting into Search Partners, it would be good to see these Google Products segmented in Adwords reporting instead of being lumped into a generic ‘Search Partner’ label.

From managing Google Shopping campaigns on a performance perspective, it’s usually best practice to switch off search partners. Why? Because they tend to drive high impressions and low engagement through clicks and purchases. For Google Shopping, Search Partner stats at the moment are slightly different as there aren’t many partners capable of showing a Shopping Ad; therefore the volumes are currently fairly small. I’m not completely convinced that users go to Image Search to purchase, rather they are there to browse Images. Could we also see a case here where we see lots of Impressions and little orders?

Google Shopping for Search Partners is nowhere near as widespread as it’s text ad cousins but you can see that Google is definitely growing it’s capabilities, especially since the GTIN requirements as of May 16th. This growth is mostly coming from Google’s own products e.g. YouTube.

For performance campaigns in particular I’m also concerned about where users are in their purchase journey when they are looking on Image Search. For me, users who are using Image Search are in more of ‘Browsy’ mindset

Yes, you could argue that by showing a Google Shopping ad next to a the relevant image could tempt users to purchase earlier, disrupting the length in their journey to purchase. But I’m concerned that we will see clicks on the Product Listing Ad with little purchases. From a performance perspective, this might be seen as ‘wasted spend’ (dependent on the KPIs). Unfortunately, due to the limitations of Search Partners, we cannot optimise this separately (e.g. bid more/less aggressively on Search Partners).

What’s great though is that this gives Paid Search yet more exposure across Google products.

Remember, there is no Organic Listings in Image Search, so this gives brand more real estate across Google to try and capture more customers. Image Search has been integral to Google’s successes, and is used by users multiple times a week. It’s safe to say that this is an exciting time for Google Shopping fans.

What do you need to do?

Ensure that all of your Product Feed attributes are normalised and correct such as Colour, Size, GTINs etc. (if applicable)

Advanced filtering and more accurate product matching is obviously key to this update, as well as Google’s future plans for the Shopping Roadmap. Ensuring that you product attributes and titles are clear and accurate will always put you in a good place.

Test, Test, Test – It’s always good to test

You might find that opting into Search Partners for Google Shopping is really profitable for you. There is no doubt that Google are providing a potentially attractive offer for advertisers and retailers by integrating Shopping into 2 of it’s biggest products; YouTube and Image Search.

Be careful of the numbers and understand what this means for your campaign performance

I don’t need to remind you to keep your eye on the prize. Remember your KPIs and targets, and monitor performance accordingly!


Overall, it’s an exciting time. Google are clearly investing heavily into this product this year, and this update is certainly the biggest we have seen for a number of months

For me, I have frustrations around only being able to manage this as a Search Partner opt in. Because I’m a stickler for detail, I would love to see the stats segmented by Google Product e.g. YouTube and Image Search. It will be hard to tell where you see the best performance. But of course, I understand why Google have done it like this. For them, it means more exposure for their Google Shopping products, more clicks, higher duration spent on, more revenue for them. Hopefully this will also be the case for advertisers and retailers with their KPI’s.

Wouldn’t it be ideal if we could manage Google Shopping campaigns separately for Branding KPIs and Performance KPIs?

I can’t help but feel that users just aren’t really in the mindset to purchase when they are in Image Search. We know that Google are working on capturing more users in these different micro-moments on Mobile (see blog around capturing users via Shopping Ads for more ‘general’ terms), but it would be great if their products allowed advertisers to target these micro-moments differently within campaigns. I think that this would give advertisers more confidence to test such updates.

Separately to everything, is this a bit of an admission by Google that their ‘Shopping’ tab via Google Search just isn’t working as well as they hoped for?

Google have never released what percentage of users actually visit this page (probably because it’s so low), and to be honest; why would they? It’s clearly in need of an upgrade! Recent tests clearly show that Google are looking to drive more users to this interface to give an Amazon style experience. This update helps to increase awareness of this interface by driving more people to this tab.

Despite all of this though, it is definitely worth testing. Good luck to you!

Dan Roberts
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