Google this week is rolling out an interactive experience in the U.S. for apparel and home décor retail advertising that it calls "shop the look."
The goal for retailers trying to connect with consumers searching on mobile devices will be turning online browsing into online buying through images in search results.
The images powering Shop the Look come from brands, bloggers, retailers and publishers, which are sourced from Google's trusted partners such as LIKEtoKNOW.it., Yahoo's Polyvore, and Curalate, a visual content platform that works with 850 top brands to connect the dots between people browsing online and completing an action.
For Shop the Look, Curalate supplied lifestyle imagery from retailers like Crate and Barrel, Forever 21, Neiman Marcus, and others to populate Google Shopping results, and then connected the products within those images to direct links to purchase.
Google Shopping Senior Product Manager Melissa Hsieh Nikolic explains in a blog post that Google will charge retailers on a cost-per-click basis and report all impressions and clicks within existing Shopping campaigns.
Searching for images for "holiday looks," for example, could serve up in query results the most popular fashion blogger wearing a black cocktail dress, heels and handbag. Searchers can shop for those exact or visually similar products featured in the image by tapping through the item to explore the relevant products shown in the form of Shopping Ads.
Google estimates that 90% of smartphone users say they are not absolutely sure which specific brand they want to buy when they begin shopping, and nearly half of U.S. readers consult blogs to find new trends and ideas, which is probably one reason Google developed the feature.
Mobile spend for product listing ads (PLAs) grew 135% in the second quarter, while clicks grew 147%, according to the Merkle Q2 2016 Digital Marketing Report.
Research shows that images are a strong element on the page attracting searchers to a product in query results. In Merkle's Google Shopping PLA Playbook, the agency explains that the overall paid search growth by Google Shopping PLAs rose 73% for clicks in the second quarter of 2016, compared with ad spend of 43%. CPCs for the Google Shopping PLAs fell 17%, confirming that images are one of the most successful paid-search formats.