Google Prepares Advertisers For Curious Holiday Shoppers

Retailers that are best positioned to reach consumers who have become far more demanding, curious and impatient will connect the dots from searches to purchases this holiday season.

Consumers have become more curious, and now search for reasons not to buy a product. For example, mobile searches like "what TV should I avoid" rose 150% in the past two years.

John McAteer, vice president of U.S. sales at Google, said during a press conference on Monday that consumers have become more curious because the cost of getting any purchase decision wrong is high.

Smartphones now help consumers find the data to make those decisions. Some 62% of smartphone users agree that when conducting a search, they look for the most relevant information, regardless of the company providing it.

Phones have become the consumer's anywhere assistant. In the past two years, Google has seen mobile searches for even mundane items such as "shower curtains" more than double. And mobile searches for "the best travel pillow" have grown more than 300%. Consumers shopping in a category for the first time will spend 62% of the overall time online.

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On Tuesday, Google will introduce and launch several products to help marketers perfect campaigns during the holidays and into 2018. The list starts with Showcase Shopping ads in the new AdWords experience. The company began testing the platform last year, but McAteer said it will now become available to advertisers globally in 15 additional countries.

The platform allows brands to curate a collection of lifestyle images and products to help people explore and discover what they want to buy and who they want to buy from.  

On average, users search for a merchant’s brand terms twice as often after they have expanded that brand’s Showcase Shopping ad, according to Google, which points to Overstock.com as an example.

Overstock.com recently created more than 50 Showcase Shopping ads and saw an increase of three times in brand searches and 32% more click-assisted conversions leading to a purchase compared with standard Shopping ads.

A new apparel search experience also launched that includes a visual design alongside brand logos and filters that allow shoppers to quickly narrow down options based on special sizing, price range and more. Similar looks surfaces more recommendations, based on a user’s previous clothing preferences.   

McAteer said Google will also launch a local inventory tool on the Google Assistant so products from local stores will serve up in organic listing. Marketers with a local product inventory feed may already begin to automatically see products appear in relevant results on the Assistant.

As consumers move between channels, Google wanted to give marketers a deeper understanding of how their online ads connect people to stores. Helping marketers determine the offline impact of local ads and other formats on the Google Display Network, Google introduced store visits measurement for display advertisers. 

The local ads on Display and new apparel experience are for mobile only. Showcase Shopping ads will become available on desktop and mobile. Local on assistant is through surfaces that support the Assistant on mobile and Home.

Impression-based store visits will become available in the coming months to give marketers a better understanding of when the ad drives consumers to take an action later at a store, even when they don’t click through.

Store visits are measured based on aggregated and anonymized data from users who opt in to activate Location History.

Google also announced three additional reports: Time lag report, New vs. returning customer report, and demographic report.

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