- Google began testing a carousel format for its mobile, text-based search ads as the search giant seeks to expand its ad inventory on the mobile web while avoiding user disruptions. Marketing analytics company SemRush saw the test and shared a screen grab on Twitter.
- Google currently permits a maximum of four ads to be displayed vertically in mobile search results. The carousel format expands that inventory in a format that mobile users can swipe sideways to see more ad inserts.
- Google declined to provide more details about the carousel format, telling Ad Age that it's "always testing new ways to improve our experience for our advertisers and users."
After the search giant saw success with the carousel format on its Google Shopping platform, according to Ad Age, bringing the change to mobile search overall could drive ad spend back to the platform. Google search results and paid-search listings are much more confined on mobile devices than on desktops, presenting a significant restriction for ads. The change would give mobile marketers more opportunities to engage smartphone users with sponsored messages.
The carousel format is becoming more familiar to mobile users after social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have trained smartphone users to swipe their smartphone screens left and right to see more images, such as in the popular "stories" format.
The platform looks to reignite growth for text-based ads after seeing a 12% decline in media spend in Q1 from a year earlier, according to data from digital agency Merkle cited by Ad Age. Search advertising makes up 44% of the $108 billion marketers spent on digital advertising last year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Using the small space on a mobile screen more efficiently, and in a potentially more visually appealing way, creates the opportunity for marketers to boost this digital ad spend on the search engine.
While it's too early to tell whether Google will adopt the carousel ad format for text-based searches, the company has sought to diversify its revenue with a bigger push into e-commerce. The company last month launched a revamped Google Shopping experience to provide new ways to find and compare millions of products from thousands of stores, and to buy them online, in a nearby store or directly on Google. Google Shopping ads that show images of products that people search for surged more than 40% during Q1 of 2019 as compared to a year earlier, according to Merkle data cited by Ad Age.
The search giant faces stronger competition from Amazon, whose ad revenue share of global digital ad spend will grow to 8% by 2023 from 3% last year, according to Juniper Research. Some marketers are shifting up to 60% of their search budgets usually allocated for Google to the e-commerce platform.