Google Brings Shoppable Ads To Image Search

Google began testing shoppable ads within image searches that only apply to sponsored ads in an effort to capitalize on “visual shoppers.”

The test is pretty controlled, with only a small percentage of users who search for certain broad topics -- such as home office ideas, shower tiles, and abstract art -- having the ability to see the test.

“Shoppers aren’t just doing their searches on,” wrote Surojit Chatterjee, vice president of product management at Shopping, in a blog post. “We’ve seen that 50% of online shoppers said images of the product inspired them to purchase, and increasingly, they’re turning to Google Images.”

The move puts Google in direct competition with Pinterest, which also announced a similar service on Tuesday. Pinterest, however, bills its services as a visual search engine.

The ad units act in a way that is similar to shoppable pins on Pinterest where advertisers can tag for sale multiple items within a photo. Hovering above the price tag icon in the photo reveals the prices of the item, along with the brand name and other information.



Volume of searches is the one benefit that Google holds over most engines, including Pinterest, but what about Amazon’s marketplace, which has been dominating ecommerce?

"There are a few interesting parts to Google’s shoppable ads in relation to how they compete with Amazon," said Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO and co-founder at "About half of shoppers beginning a product search will go straight to Amazon, or will be directed to an Amazon product through a Google search. By inserting ways to purchase products directly into images, Google can potentially both take a greater share of initial product searches, but also earn more referral dollars by guiding people away from Amazon.

He said instead of a shopper first finding something they might want in a Google image search, then looking for it on Amazon, Google can short circuit that interaction by taking that shopper to exactly what they want to buy from the image.

Google also said it will bring Showcase Shopping ads, which historically only appear in textual search results, to image search.






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