Recently, Google held a Bootcamp event at their office in Pyrmont for Shopping Advertising. It was a training event for those who are certified in Shopping Advertising and affiliated with an agency who are part of the Google Partner program.
The main objective for this event was to increase awareness of Google’s new features and tips to leverage automation on Google Shopping so that advertisers are able to get the best value for ad spend. Since Reef is a certified Google Partner, my colleague and I had the opportunity to attend this bootcamp and absorb as much valuable information as possible in the 6 hours we were there.
At this event, Google covered so many topics – ranging from new features and shopping feed management to shopping campaign strategies – that it’s hard to condense everything into one post. Hence, for this post, we’ll be focusing on some of the key takeaways that we feel would be the most useful for any advertiser running Shopping Ad campaigns.
The Future of Consumer Expectations
With the rising dominance of e-commerce across the globe, it’s no surprise that consumer expectations are rising exponentially. To ensure that retailers stay on top of their game, they need to be aware of these expectations and adapt their strategy to meet the evolving demands of their customers. The modern consumer can be characterised by the following:
With 24/7 access to information at our fingertips, consumers are becoming increasingly curious. In just two years, mobile searches for ‘best ___’ have grown over 80%, and 53% of smartphone users have purchased from a brand other than the one they intended to because the information provided was relevant to their situation. Thus, not only retailers are competing with other brands, they are also competing with user experiences.
According to Google, 50% of consumers expect to have specific time slot for deliveries vs. 28% of retailers who are actually offering this service. A whopping 43% of shoppers also expect to be able to pick up where they left off when they return to a retailer site if they didn’t make a purchase. And finally, an even greater 58% of smartphone users feel more favourable towards companies whose mobile site or apps remember who they are and their behaviour. From this, we can see that this ever-increasing demand of consumers are creating a gap that needs to be bridged by retailers if they want to stay on top of their game. Not only does this information create a massive opportunity for a retailer to get ahead of their competitors, it’s also a great insight into how we can optimise shopping campaigns to suit users.
In 2017 alone, there has been more than 85% increase in mobile search for “where to buy (product)”, more than 3 times an increase in ‘near me’ and ‘open now’ searches in 2017 compared to 2015, and a hefty 68% of digital shoppers expect click and collect services whilst only 38% of retailers offer this service. With this in mind, retailers need to deliver the experience and/or product to the users at lightning speed in order to bridge the gap between expectations and reality.
The Future of Google Shopping: New Features Highlight
With so many demands from customers, it’s imperative that retailers communicate their unique value at every stage of the customer journey whilst also closing the sales by removing friction across all channels.Google is continuously rolling out new features in order to address this consumer-retailer gap.
For instance, retailers can now create Shopping Showcase ads in the new AdWords experience. What makes these ads different from the normal shopping ads is that the new Shopping Showcase ads will expand if users click on them to show a group of relevant products instead of directing users to the landing page.
These Showcase ads appear at the top of the SERP on Google when someone searches for generic, non-branded terms, for instance ‘handbags’, or ‘backpacks’. To make the purchasing process seamless, Google also added the option for retailers to enable Google Pay, making the checkout process even easier and smoother for shoppers.
The online retail industry is rapidly shifting towards visual search, and as previously mentioned, the increasingly demanding consumer now expects all the information of the product to be presented to them from the get-go – whether it’s the price, conditions, ratings, etc.
This is why shopping campaigns are becoming just as important as search campaigns. With this in mind, Google acknowledges the fact that managing shopping campaigns has grown more complex and time intensive. Hence, Google has just recently introduced another new Shopping ads feature called Shopping Campaign (Goal-Optimised), or SCGO in short, so that users can save time on campaign management.
This new type of shopping campaign improves efficiency by automating some of the time intensive tasks previously carried out by advertisers. With the support of artificial intelligence handling tasks such as bid management and ad placements, the advertiser has more time available to focus on higher level priorities such as the overall strategic direction and what adjustments or tests need to be carried out to improve performance on an ongoing basis.
Even with machine learning handling some of the day-to-day optimisations, advertisers should always keep in mind that these day to day optimisations supported by the artificial intelligence system, do not always equal better performance. Advertisers should continue to monitor the account performance at a granular level, optimising the campaigns as required, as well as reviewing the overall strategy to ensure the success of the campaign.
Before running SCGO, advertisers should also note that Google would prioritise this type of campaign over standard Shopping campaigns that’s promoting the same product. SCGO requires the account to have a minimum of 20 conversions across all Shopping campaigns over the past 45 days. The new campaign should however, be left to run for about 2-3 weeks before any changes occur, as it takes time for the machine learning algorithm to process the data to the point where it can support the day to day running of the campaigns. Hence, optimisations should be kept to a minimum during this period and advertisers should only evaluate the success of the campaign beyond this initial learning phase.
With these new game-changing features being rolled out in the early to middle of the year, retailers should have plenty of time to test them out before fully integrating these features into their end-of-year strategy, especially around Christmas. Having seen how much emphasis Google is putting on Shopping campaigns, we can expect even more new features and updates in the coming years. It’s about time Shopping ads step into the spotlight, and when it does, make sure you’re ready for it!