Google Shopping has grown immensely as a traffic source for advertisers over the past year, particularly on phones. Looking at growth by device type, Merkle advertisers saw a 162% Y/Y increase in phone Product Listing Ad (PLA) clicks in Q1 on average, far outpacing desktop and tablets.
Along with doubling the size of PLAs on mobile devices and increasing the frequency with which these units appear on mobile search results, Google continues to test a variety of different mobile PLA formats and features to aid in that growth.
One new mobile PLA feature that we’ve noticed recently is the addition of filter buttons below PLAs. We have seen three different buttons showing up; In store, Top Rated and Price Qualifier (ex. Up To $130).
While tests in which Google automatically filters products based on superlatives found in the query (such as ‘best coffee grinder’ featuring only top rated grinders) have been well documented, these new buttons appear to show up for general searches that do not feature superlative qualifiers.
Below you can see an example for the search “keurig coffee makers”:
Once a user clicks through one of the buttons they are directed to a Shopping page featuring only products that meet the specifications of the button selected.
Potential Impact for Advertisers
If these buttons catch on with searchers, they have the potential to impact which products users purchase, as well as the likelihood of a product being picked up in store.
For advertisers with brick and mortar stores, the ‘In Store’ button makes it easier for users who prefer to pick up a product in store to find those brands which can offer that possibility.
In fact, we have already observed a rise in online purchases with in-store pickup selected on mobile for clients that are running Local Inventory Ads (LIA), beginning in mid-May. For one advertiser, in-store pickup orders have roughly tripled in the last month.
This seems to confirm that users are making use of these buttons, and leads us to believe we should also expect to see an increase in traffic for products that fall below the price ceiling of the price point button. Similarly, products that have strong product ratings will likely see an increase in traffic because of the ‘Top Rated’ button.
On the other side of the coin, if these buttons are widely rolled out and used, we would expect to see a decrease in traffic for products priced above the price ceiling featured in the button as well as for products rated poorly relative to other Shopping options.
Getting Local Inventory Ads Set Up
Advertisers interested in being featured in the in-store results should set up Local Inventory Ads (LIA). There are a few steps that need to be taken to participate. First, review the criteria and policies to ensure eligibility.
Some of the important criteria is having brick and mortar stores, selling physical goods at those locations, being located in the country you are targeting and having a Google Merchant Center and Google My Business Account. Advertisers also need to provide Google with local product feeds in order to participate.
Getting Products Ratings Set Up
Setting up Product Ratings gives advertisers the ability to take advantage of the ‘Top Rated’ button. Products need to have three reviews and a minimum of 50 reviews across all products in order to qualify for the program. To setup Product Ratings fill out this interest form provided by Google to receive additional information.
These updates seem like a great user experience upgrade for searchers, who now have the ability to quickly filter the results so that they are more relevant to what they are looking for, instead of having to scroll through the PLA results at the top. It would be interesting to see statistics on how many people click on one of these buttons first over the PLAs at the top.
More qualified clicks are also better for advertisers, as searchers should be more likely to convert after clicking through to a product that meets the specifications of the filter.
Mobile PLAs continue to grow significantly, and this test could lead to additional clicks on PLAs for products that fall into one of the button categories, as well as corresponding declines in traffic for those products that fail to meet the requirements of the featured buttons.
It will be interesting to see if and to what extent Google continues to test this mobile PLA format in the months to come, and the impact it has on mobile PLA and text ad performance.