Google Officially Kicks Off Shopping Season At Think Retail

Google officially jumped into its holiday shopping countdown on Tuesday at Think Retail 2022, an annual virtual event to help merchants and advertisers prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

The company released several features, including product-specific insights that advertisers use to optimize their product feed and holiday-season messages -- with product-specific insights at the account level using the products tab in Google Ads.

Google also launched a Deals Content API where merchants and advertisers can add their sales and promotions to their listings via the Content API. This is intended to make it even easier to upload and manage deals.

The Shipping and Returns Annotations for Shopping Ads enables merchants to list expected delivery dates -- for example, “deliver by September 10” -- and offer free returns in their ads. Conversion-value rules for store sales and store visits also is new, allowing advertisers to set store visit or store sales default values at the campaign level.

Google data shows that despite tough economic times and inflation, shoppers are still searching to buy and spend. They are considering each purchase based on price and a positive customer experience.

Jochen Heck, vice president of retail sales at Google, estimates that the holiday season now spans from July through December, as consumers are more concerned about out-of-stock and supply-chain issues.

A Google annual survey conducted in June shows that 26% of U.S. consumers have already begun shopping, and 39% already have ideas of the gifts they will purchase.

More shoppers have returned to stores compared with pre-pandemic levels, and they have done so without decreasing the digital use. It’s no longer either or, it's both and more, said Jochen Heck, VP of retail sales at Google.

Stephanie Shum, product director of retail ads at Google, believes it’s important to inspire shoppers throughout their journey on places like search and YouTube -- to reach omnichannel buyers no matter where they shop.

“People shop across Google more than one million times a day for everything like weighted blankets to Queen Elizabeth Barbies, and Y2K apparel,” she said.

About 60% of shoppers get inspired or prompted to buy something even when they aren’t actively shopping. Whether it’s searching for walking trails and then buying shoes, or watching cooking blogs on YouTube ad and then buying a pasta maker.

Shum says Google has launched a more visual search experience, so when people search for holiday pet costumes consumers will see a visual feed of products, along with reviews, articles and stores nearby. Marketers in the coming months will have an option to buy ads to run visual shopping ads in the feed.

Google recently rolled out YouTube Shorts product feeds through video action campaigns. Levi’s added product feeds on YouTube Shorts to Video Action Campaign and saw an 11% lift in conversions.

Google sees billions of searches daily. About 15% of search queries are ones that were not seen previously. “The best way to capture that opportunity to reach customers no matter how they search is buy using automated solutions like Broad Match, Smart Bidding, and Responsive Search Ads,” Shum says.

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