Google is bringing Shopping ads to image search results and will serve up local inventory information in a box that appears with maps and other store information at the top of mobile search results. The company announced the changes Monday.
The Shopping ads will automatically serve up in image search as part of the Google Search Network, providing local retailers with more options. Consumers will click through the ads to the retailer's Web site, where they will make the purchase.
Google also announced changes to its local inventory ad format that serves up more information on product inventory available in local stores. Search-term keywords that infer a location have become a signal to return in-store local inventory in the Knowledge Panel of Google's search results by indicating that the product is "In stock." The box appears in search query results, along with maps and store information at the top of the page.
The information serves up in search results when shoppers infer a location by identifying a place or ZIP code or "near me" in the keyword search term.
The buy online and pick up in-store feature allows retailers to add a store pickup link to the Google-hosted local product page, which appears after a user clicks the retailer's local inventory ad.
The ad formats will roll out in mobile first, with help from the buy online and pick up in-store button. A desktop version follows later this year.
Some believe Google needs to do more to drive in-store purchases, so retailers can lessen their reliance on discounts and promotions.
In 2016, retailers have relied heavily on discounts and promotions, continuing the cycle of the poorly performing discounting strategies implemented over the holidays.
Retailers sold less merchandise at full price in first-quarter 2016 vs. 2015, according to the DynamicAction Retail Index: Spring 2016. The analysis released Monday at Shoptalk of more than $5 billion in consumer transactions found full-price sales down 4% in first-quarter 2016, compared with the prior quarter, and orders using a promotion rose 63%. March 2016 saw an 86% increase in orders with promotions.