Two critical Google updates made last week will change search, according to one agency expert.
The impact of Google’s image extensions in text ads could have a significant impact in search results, according to Matthew Mierzejewski, Merkle SVP and search capability lead.
“Search has become a visual battleground,” Mierzejewski said. “If you pull up a mobile browser and do a search on Google, so much of the search query results page is visual. … Nearly all organic results now have an image. Now text ads will too.”
Mierzejewski predicts a resurgence in text ads based on the image extension. Google has begun to roll out images with text ads on mobile.
Ads with images have a higher click-through rate (CTR) that suggests increased conversions, but there is no evidence of a higher average order value, he said, when asked if images tend to prompt consumers on average to spend more at one time.
Last week, Microsoft announced a partnership with Shutterstock that gives advertisers in the United States and the United Kingdom free access to more than 320 million images in Microsoft Audience Ads, which supports native advertising across its network.
In early tests with Google image extensions, Merkle experienced “a double-digit increase in CTR — 15% higher — compared with not using an image in text ads in retail,” Mierzejewski said.
He thinks it will increase text ads -- earning Google higher revenue -- and decrease organic clicks to websites.
“We’ve seen that trend for the past two years and wrote about it frequently in Merkle’s quarterly digital marketing report,” he said. “It’s an increase in paid clicks and decrease in organic clicks.”
The other major update Google recently covered — Buy on Google — removed commission fees paid by merchants. It is in direct competition with Amazon, which historically has been the search destination for consumers searching for product information.
Mierzejewski said Google’s commission-free offer removes the barrier for many merchants. It gives Google a tool to build a bigger ecosystem. Google wants to own the destination to start a product query, which Amazon still owns.
“It’s a pretty big step for Google,” he said.