Visual Selling: Updates to Google and Microsoft Ads to Include More Visual Options
Oct 15 2020
Search platforms are expanding beyond traditional keyword searches to include more visual components to boost ecommerce. While some of this transition can be explained by months of COVID-19 precautions forcing more people inside and pushing ecommerce forward, these changes were already in the works well before many people started quarantining in March. Brands adapting to these visual capabilities are discovering the advantages to showing customers what products look like in their closet or driveway, how they might be personalized, and giving consumers the feeling of “owning a product digitally.”
These improvements to visual commerce are reshaping the customer experience, helping consumers feel more comfortable and in control of their digital shopping process while giving marketers a host of new tools to play with. Here’s how platforms are adapting to visual selling and how these changes can improve engagements and conversions for your business.
Google Image Extension
It’s time for brands to rethink what the largest search engine in the world is capable of. With the Google Image Extension, brands can now add photos to complement their text ads on Google search results pages. Marketers have the ability to either select these images to match their ads or allow Google to draw them dynamically from the brand’s website. It is recommended these images be square, 1200 x 1200 pixel images.
The eye-catching image extension is expected to improve click-through rates and conversions for advertisers, playing on the appeal of visuals over text prevalent across all platforms.
Free Bing Product Listings
Competing with giants like Amazon and Google can be tough, which is why Bing announced plans in August to make organic product listings free to advertisers. The move mirrors a similar choice by Google back in April to bring free listings to its shopping results pages.
The Bing shopping tab now displays organic listings to U.S.-based advertisers automatically, though brands can opt out of these listings if they so choose. As with standard organic ads, clicks from these listings are free publicity for brands looking to expand their reach and promote large product catalogues. Microsoft hopes the expanded product inventory will attract more shoppers to the platform and give advertisers another reason to make Bing a larger part of their marketing strategies — organic or otherwise.
Free Google Product Listings
Speaking of free product listings, Google made a significant change this spring by allowing retailers free exposure to millions of shoppers to combat Amazon’s online marketplace. The result? Innumerable brands suddenly became more discoverable and shoppable on a major platform without the traditional barrier to entry.
Paid search campaigns are still the foundation for most digital ad strategies, but the Google shopping tab makes it easy for shoppers to discover new advertisers from both globally-recognized brands and considerably smaller local businesses. This is a major boost for those hurt by the pandemic shuttering brick-and-mortar stores this summer, and might even evolve the Google shopping tab into a more appealing destination for online shoppers who have recently shown a tendency to begin their shopping searches on Amazon.
Making Google Shopping listings freely available to small and medium-sized businesses has already drawn impressive results. According to Google’s president of commerce, the company has seen “significant lift in user engagement,” including 70% lift in clicks and 130% lift in impressions on the Shopping tab.
Google Support Links
As an additional benefit to SMBs, Google has enabled support links to provide customers with a brief status update in the midst of pandemic concerns and the ability to easily support businesses struggling through hardships brought on by COVID-19.
With support links, a business may add a link to its profile for customers to buy a gift card or make a donation, as well as mark the business as temporarily closed or list other pertinent information that may have altered operations due to COVID-19. Support links can only be used by businesses with physical storefronts and that were verified before March 1, 2020.
Visual commerce is making use of all kinds of new technologies, from simple personalized color options to augmented reality illustrating what new appliances could look like in your real-world kitchen. Google lens aims to take this a step further with its visual recognition technology — the ability to scan real-world items and provide information based on what it detects in the image.
For a marketer, this opens a world of possibilities. Customers could locate a piece of furniture or a pair of shoes they find appealing in an instant, without ever going through the traditional search channels or identifying a brand. Marketers can get a precise reading of how a customer discovers, explores, and purchases items through their own mobile camera. For example, when a user turns to Google Lens to seek out apparel that matches their favorite outfit, Lens will turn to available product images for the best fit.
Brands need to accommodate AI search technologies like Google Lens in order to keep pace with visual commerce’s emerging popularity, which means detailed product list
ings, extensive use of images across all marketing efforts and awareness of what this emerging technology is capable of.