Expect to see a slight makeover to your favourite ad-free area of Google soon, as the U.S prepare to welcome the introduction of Shopping ads to image search from Monday. This is a big change for retailers, however in the wake of some surprising moves by Google throughout year, the only surprising thing about this one is how long it took them to monetise this part of their offering.

The gif below, from Search Engine Land, shows how the ads will be displayed on mobile.

Google PLAs In Image Search

Google say users who shop on their smartphones at least once a week rely on product images more than anything else, which, unless you have ever purchased an item online without seeing an image of it, is a pretty obvious statement to make. The fact that they’re stating the obvious doesn’t take anything away from the sentiment behind it though, which is that product images may well be the single most important part of a user’s early purchase decisions.

This for me is the most important part of this update – understanding that users who are utilising Google images are at the early stages of their journey, and are likely searching to browse and compare a range of products, rather than looking for a singular website to visit and purchase. Users are therefore either at the awareness or early consideration stages of the purchase journey we work towards at 4Ps, and we have to adjust our strategies accordingly.

This means acknowledging that there may be a dip in conversion rate, and then looking at conversion paths to understand the full story behind the data. My assumption would be that the strength of these ads will be in their influence on the final conversion, rather than actually driving the final conversion. For example, how do conversion rates look when a user’s conversion path includes a Shopping ad in Google images vs. a user’s conversion path that does not? Answering questions like that will tell us a more insightful story about the success of these ads.

With the above in mind, we know that users will often be leaving our sites without purchasing, hopefully with us in their minds throughout the rest of their purchase journey. Remarketing for search ads and remarketing for shopping ads will allow us to be present when they return, perhaps with a more conversion-focused keyword search.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on performance metrics from Monday onwards – hopefully they prove we were right to be excited about this latest Google update.

4Ps isn’t just another PPC management agency. To discuss how paid search strategies are evolving alongside new developments in ad technology and inventory placements, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels.