In time for the holiday shopping period, and ahead of people doing lots of pre-purchase research, Google has enhanced its mobile Shopping experience to help users research and compare different items before purchasing.
It's added a 'quick view' button, which helps by showing a larger image, longer product description, customer reviews and sellers' ratings, as well as sale information. Google will also display similar products of the same category, or will allow users to discover additional products from the same brand or retailers. When browsing tech products, Google will let users know if they're looking at an old model or if a newer version of the product is available.
These changes not only make Shopping ads more usable - thus encouraging potential customers to engage with an ad, and thereby increasing the already considerable importance of Shopping ads for retailers - they also have implications on the required quality of Shopping feeds, highlighting the need for an overall clean feed.
In Shopping, incomplete descriptions or missing visual cues (such as seller ratings) can make the deciding difference between two different products. With these enhanced Shopping capabilities, brands and advertisers need to ensure that not only are product titles appealing and flawless, but also that product descriptions (and any supporting images) are of high quality.
Optimising descriptions in a large product feed can be daunting, especially since finding a standardised approach to many products without causing oversimplification in the data is difficult, but it can be sufficient to follow a simple structure where a product's most important attributes are mentioned at the start of the description (which is the section users are most likely to read).
Improving the user and advertiser experience
Following the Shopping update, advertisers that aren't yet using seller ratings should consider looking into these again - we've already seen an improvement in click-through rate on regular Shopping ads since the update went live. Now that Google is making sellers and products more comparable, seller ratings and product reviews are another make or break feature to make use of. Seller ratings can be displayed using several independent review providers or Google's own Customer Reviews, which can easily be integrated into a brand's checkout experience.
Finally, with the new Shopping format making prices more comparable, highlighting sale prices and price drops becomes the final important thing to keep in mind when trying to get ahead of the competition in Shopping, which can be done either through the use of Merchant Promotions or through Google's own price drop feature.
Google has managed to improve the Shopping experience significantly just in time for the holiday period, which will hopefully boost the value of the channel for brands and consumers alike.