- Google added user-generated images in product reviews on Shopping ads to help shoppers feel more confident about their online purchases, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer. Brands can include those images in product review feeds on mobile devices, letting shoppers see previous customers wearing or using the items.
- The tech giant updated its online guide for merchants to help them ensure all submitted photos are compliant with its policies on user-generated images. The experience is now available on mobile in the U.S., and Google plans to expand it among more of its properties and to other countries in the coming months, per a company blog post.
- Google also updated its Merchant Center to provide better workflows, simpler navigation and more program insights. Online retailers can use the new interface to manage products and enable automatic image improvements to remove promotional overlays on product images to comply with its policies.
Shopping Ads are one of Google's most popular ad formats with marketers, accounting for 76% of retail search ad spending. By adding user-generated images to product reviews in these ad units, Google aims to give shoppers more peace of mind about making purchases from online sellers. The upgrade comes just before this year's holiday shopping season — which is shorter than usual with only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas — meaning mobile marketers will be pressed to eliminate as much friction as possible between product searches and online checkouts, something more visually engaging reviews could help accomplish.
Online consumers are increasingly inspired by product images that show up in search results, with 50% of digital shoppers saying images helped them decide what to buy, per a Google Consumer Survey. With a recent study suggesting that Google is among the search engines that show fake and possibly dangerous goods in as much as 60% of search results, consumers need greater reassurance that they're buying legitimate products instead of cheap knockoffs, which visual reviews could provide.
Google Merchant Center is more equipped for global shopping, with 70% of global consumers saying they've made at least one cross-border purchase, according to a recent Pitney Bowes report cited by Google. The platform's Shopping ads have been expanded in 50 new markets to cover 95 in total, giving merchants a more global customer base.
Multicountry feeds let merchants target several regions that share the same language. For example, German-language product information to target shoppers in Germany can be automatically shown in other German-speaking countries, such as Austria and Switzerland. Merchants must set up shipping and location targeting for the countries in a Shopping campaign to promote products in other countries, per Google.
The updates to Google Merchant Center come as archrival Amazon continues to enhance its Marketplace for third-party sellers. The e-commerce giant this week expanded product reviews by letting shoppers leave a star rating without requiring them to write a complete review. Amazon started testing the change in September and last week changed the wording on its website from "reviews" to "ratings," Marketplace Pulse reported.