The following post is a recap of a panel from the Search Insider Summit titled "The Death of Text Ads" that featured Adlucent Founder and CEO, Michael Griffin.
Are text ads really an endangered species? Not at this point, but we are seeing new opportunities created within the Google SERP.
At the December 12th Search Insider Summit, a group of leading paid search authorities gathered to discuss what they see as the greatest opportunities within Google for online merchants.
Product Listing Ads
The topic on everyone’s mind was Google Shopping, Google’s response to Amazon’s visually appealing search format. Retailers must now pay to be included, enabling them to deliver image-based ads when someone searches for a product a retailer carries.
There is some speculation as to how Google Shopping will continue to evolve in terms of functionality and within the SERP. As PLAs continue to perform well for retailers (in fact, PLA click-through rates for Adlucent clients are 88% higher than non-brand text ads), Google will give them more prominence in the results page and text ads will be bumped to a lower position.
Another topic up for debate was the addition of a “checkout” button on PLAs, similar to Amazon’s one-click. Several panelists believed this could increase conversion rates for PLAs, but as Michael Griffin and PETCO’s Nina Won noted, the sole focus of a retailer shouldn’t be the number of transactions, rather the relationship you build with your customers. A checkout button may be beneficial to those who are ready to buy, but what is the long-term effect of this colder approach? How do retailers handle returns and unsatisfied customers who aren’t really sure who they purchased a product from? How does this impact brand image, customer satisfaction, and repeat purchases? Smart retailers will focus on the lifetime value of a customer.
There are several ways to test product listing ads to get the most impact. Making price changes has proven to be a factor in success. Image diversity is a new method to try. Using the same picture as the competition provides limited differentiation but testing images with various product angles, colors, and can lead to higher click through rates. Finally, optimize your keywords in the feed based on consumer intent. Simple text adjustments and keyword variations better aligned with understood customer need can drive incremental changes to your CTR. Providing the best shopping experience for your consumers should always be your highest priority.
The next point of discussion for the panel was ad extensions. Google continues to add new features in this area. Extensions vary based on where you’re trying to direct consumers―an call a landing page, a nearby store. Some examples of extensions include social, product, offers, and click-to-call features. With 60%-75% of all in-store purchases influenced by online, Google will continue to make efforts to bridge the gap between the online-offline experience. One service that has garnered a lot of attention is Google Wallet. If Google can become the leader in mobile payments, they will be one step closer to bridging this gap.
Finally, the panel discussed display advertising. One panelist suggested that display ads could become part of the SERP so long as the ads become more tailored and customized to the shopper. The fact that real time bidding (RTB) works for display ads on websites is reasonable, but can they also work on the SERP where a 40 millisecond load time is considered unacceptable? That has yet to be determined.
Google will continue to release features intended to gain back consumer attention and make Google their go-to starting point to make a purchase―online or offline. Capitalizing early on the developments that are most beneficial to your retail business will be key to staying ahead of the competition.