Google recently announced the launch of several new features this summer, but what do they mean for online retailers looking to work on their online strategy and how can they be used to boost sales during the end-of-year shopping rush?

Showcase Shopping

According to Google, 44% of people have mentioned that they use images to find ideas while shopping online. With this in mind, the search engine has launched Showcase Shopping, a feature that displays shopping products for broad search terms such as ‘summer dresses’ or ‘men’s sportswear.’

With this format, retail advertisers can choose to have a series of images appear for related search queries. If and when a user clicks on image, they are directed to another page with additional product information.

Of course, this new format is opening huge doors to retailers. While Google Shopping traditionally only let you propose a specific product at a time, Showcase Shopping allows you to display a whole range of products and therefore increase your offer in front of users. However, before paying to select the images that Google displays in paid search results, retailers are generally advised to revise their strategies for non-brand queries and broad search terms.

Expanded text ads

This time focusing on text ads, another feature released this summer is allowing advertisers to almost double their ad copy (+47% to be exact). This feature applies to all devices, should it be mobile or desktop, and has had an impact in particular on headlines and descriptions, which have more than doubled in length.

There are obviously many advantages that come with expanded text ads. With fewer character limits, advertisers have additional control over messaging and more room to effectively convey their message. What’s more, they are also affording us the opportunity to completely revise ad copy. While the easy option may be to gap fill with a couple of extra words in existing text ads, this is actually an excellent opportunity to revise the message as a whole.

This may sound daunting, but Google has made sure that this feature is compatible with Google’s Campaign Drafts and Experiments. Allowing advertisers to compare different variations of their revised messaging, this removes the pressure to get it right the first time and truly compare performance to see what works best for your business.

Price extensions

Expanded text ads are not the only feature to increase the amount of real estate available in SERPs, as Price Extensions are also significantly increasing the amount of space available on mobile.

All online retailers understand the importance of pricing in the buying cycle, so providing such information before a user even clicks through to the website comes at a real advantage. Users can then click on individual extensions, which take them directly to what they are looking for.

One of the main benefits for online retailers in this instance is the possibility to specify dates, days of the week or times of the day, making price extensions an ideal feature to showcase special offers.

However, advertisers should be aware that this feature always links to a mobile site, making it necessary to have a mobile-optimised site to make the most of them.

Focus on mobile

A focus on mobile with this last feature also reflects Google’s speech during an event at their headquarters in London with Twenga Solutions last week.  

The facts are simple: we don’t simply go online anymore, we live online. Whether that means looking for a tutorial for your next project, finding a recipe for tonight or checking out the latest stock figures, it is simply a question of pulling out our mobile devices and getting what we need, when we need it.

Earlier this year eMarketer reported that the amount of time we spend on mobile has gone beyond that on desktop, taking UK adults to spending two hours and 26 minutes on mobile devices every day. What’s more, in 2015 mobile searches outnumbered those on desktop in 10 countries worldwide, further underlying the importance of mobile in general.

In more specific e-commerce terms, the importance of mobile is evident with major shopping days such as Black Friday. In 2014, 30% of revenue on the 28 of November 2014 was on a mobile device. Furthermore, Google claims that 59% of online retail searches over the festive period are on Black Friday.

Preparation is key

With this in mind, both Google and Twenga Solutions encourage online retailers to plan their online advertising campaigns early. However, with searches for the festive period starting as early as September, it is possible that you are already running late.

Early preparation is key, especially if you are to test expanded text ads, implement price extensions and experiment with Showcase Shopping, following their release this summer. Furthermore, revising both your text ads and product listing ads (Google Shopping) is extremely important given that a consumer exposed to both will be 90% more likely to visit a website, 83% more likely to make a purchase and 77% more likely to visit a product page.