This holiday season is just around the corner, which means one thing: shoppers and retailers alike are working on their checklists. In fact, today’s shoppers are being more intentional with their holiday purchases, with 74% planning their shopping ahead of time.1 With inflation putting pressure on consumer spending globally, it’s never been more important to drive efficiency with your marketing efforts and optimize your campaigns for profitable sales.
But this year is unlike any other. AI-powered tools are transforming businesses’ ability to move faster, better understand the intent of their customers, and engage them in new ways across the path to purchase. Today, we’re excited to share new tools to generate insights and new features to help you do more with Google AI.
Delight customers wherever they prefer to shop
There’s no typical path to purchase across web, apps, and in-store anymore. In fact, 61% of holiday shoppers use 5 or more channels to shop over just a two-day period.2 This is a great opportunity for you to insert yourself into their journey and expand your customer base.
If you are using online sales goals for Performance Max campaigns, you can now optimize for new customers with a high predicted lifetime value. New Customer Acquisition with High Value optimization enables you to simultaneously reach new high- and average-valued new customers while also engaging existing customers. For more information on joining this beta, reach out to your Google account team.
Coming out of the pandemic, one thing is certain: local shopping starts online. Even in 2022, online search was used before 96% of in-store holiday shopping occasions.3 You need to provide a consistent omnichannel experience across eCommerce and in-store. To help with this, we’ve:
- Enabled ‘Pickup Later’ annotations for all merchants who don’t have a local inventory feed.
- Expanded access to the Search top slot ad format for businesses using Performance Max for store goals. This interactive format displays business information, such as open hours, and prompts customers who have shown explicit local shopping intent (like searching “near me”) with the right business actions, such as directions or calls.
- Dramatically reduced the average onboarding time for local inventory ads and introduced a new local store unit ad format. This new format combines available inventory data from your local product feeds with imagery and information from your business profile to better showcase your store to potential customers.
Local store unit placement within local inventory ads
Unwrap new holiday and product insights
While retailers have focused their efforts on the peak sales period later in the year, it’s important to know that U.S. consumers are shopping in just as many categories for holiday early in the season as they are during cyber week4. This means, with the right insights, you can better shape your marketing strategy to find, engage, and convert these shoppers before a price-competitive period.
In Ads, we’re supercharging the product page with more details about product issues, such as out-of-stock inventory, high bidding targets (like ROAS), or missing feed information. You’ll be able to better understand the performance of your categories, brands, product types, and custom labels over time, helping you make smarter campaign and inventory planning decisions.
Updated insights column within the product page on Google Ads
The new Performance Tab in Merchant Center has also been upgraded to make it easier to access product, pricing, and competitive performance insights. In a single tab, you can see your bestselling and popular products on Google, understand which products have the highest click-potential, and evaluate your product pricing and visibility compared to competitors.
Ahead of the holiday season, test and iterate so you gain early learnings on the right campaigns and bidding strategies to use. Businesses with brick-and-mortar stores can ensure their bidding strategy accounts for shoppers who fluidly switch between online and in-store with the ability to run an A/B experiment. You can quantify the impact of online-only bidding vs. Smart Bidding for store visits and store sales. This is available for your Standard Shopping campaigns now and Search campaigns coming soon.
For advertisers who aren’t using Performance Max campaigns yet, now you can use one-click experiments to set up an A/B test between Standard Shopping campaigns and Performance Max campaigns. Advertisers that have shifted from Standard Shopping campaigns to Performance Max drove a 25% increase in conversion value, on average, at a similar ROAS.5
|“New Balance wanted to reach more shoppers interested in our running products on Google search and beyond, so we leaned into Performance Max and the power of Google AI. In just the first six weeks of A/B testing Performance Max vs. Standard Shopping campaigns, we (New Balance) saw a 200% increase in online sales. We are now looking to expand our Performance Max success across our other categories ahead of the holidays."
— Tracy Knauer, VP of North America Marketing and Direct to Consumer, New Balance
Make your products sparkle
The consideration cycle for the right holiday gift at the right price is lengthening as more resources and channels become available to shoppers. For example, 87% of holiday shoppers report using Google properties (such as Search, Maps, and YouTube) as a shopping resource, while 65% use social media platforms, and 59% turn to top online marketplaces.6
It’s critical to provide details of your products’ attributes (such as fulfillment speed, cost, color, or size) for the best chance to capture sales with price and nonprice differentiators. Now, the deals and shipping annotations on your Shopping ads and free listings will get more visibility and personalized than before. Your promotions can be targeted to shoppers based on specific zip codes, states, or product categories they’re interested in. You can also expect new same-day delivery and return information to appear on certain offers, in addition to your deal annotations, helping your customers make more informed decisions about your products and convert faster. Ensure your product feeds and promotions are updated with the latest information, and fix your promotions disapprovals to access these annotations.
Many product offers on Google have just one image. However, offers with more than one image see a 76% average increase in impressions and a 32% increase in clicks.7 Diversify your product images with Product Studio, a new suite of free, AI-powered tools that will be available within Merchant Center Next and on the Google & YouTube App on Shopify.8 You can increase image resolution, edit backgrounds, and even generate scenes based on the descriptions you provide. Would you like to be one of the first businesses to try it out? Sign up here.
Don’t forget about videos. Now is the time to strategically share holiday gift guides and create video content that will spark ideas for gift lists and drive sales. Advertisers that included at least one video in their Performance Max campaigns saw an average increase of 12% of total additional conversions.9 To help you convert shoppers browsing on YouTube, Performance Max will start using images from your product feed to unlock additional inventory and formats, including YouTube Shorts. Product images will also help you improve the quality and relevance of your auto-generated videos. If you’d like to build your own video, use the easy tools in the asset library or access them directly from Performance Max campaign workflows.
Product images from your feed can improve the quality of your auto-generated videos and unlock new Performance Max inventory on YouTube—including Shorts
Last year, we also brought 3D visuals to Search, letting people spin and zoom 3D images of products, like sneakers and home goods, while shopping on Google. We know that shoppers engage with 3D images almost 50% more than static ones.10 Now, directly through Merchant Center, you can provide these 3D image assets to be displayed in Search through your free listings. If you don’t have these 3D assets, you can create them using a handful of 2D images by uploading them to Manufacturer Center.
For best practices on how to further maximize your holiday performance this year, check out our retail holiday checklist and best practices guides for Merchant Center and app solutions. For advertisers looking to multiply their sales with AI, check out our retail best practices for Performance Max campaigns.
Posted by Jyotika Prasad, Senior Director, Product Management, Retail Ads
1. Google/Ipsos, Holiday Shopping Study, Oct 2022 – Jan 2023, Online survey, Americans 18+ who conducted holiday shopping activities in past two days. n=10,507 purchases
2. Google/Ipsos, “Holiday Shopping Study” Oct 2022 - Jan 2023, Online survey, AR, AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IT, MX, NL, ES, SE, UK, US, CL, CO, PE, BE, NO, FI, DK n=67,201 Online 18+ who shopped for the holidays in the past 2 days
3. Google/Ipsos, “Holiday Shopping Study,” Oct 13, 2022–Jan 4, 2023, online survey, AR, AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IT, MX, NL, ES, SE, UK, US, CL, CO, PE, BE, NO, FI, DK SK, n=79,338 in-store shopping occasions among online 18+ who shopped for the holidays in the past 2 days
4. Google/Ipsos, Holiday Shopping Study, Oct 13, 2022 - Jan 4, 2023, Online survey, Americans 18+ who conducted holiday shopping activities in past two days n=8,467
5. Google Data, Global, Ads, October 2022 - March 2023. Uplift in conversion value was at the account-level
6. Google/Ipsos, Holiday Shopping Study, Oct 2022 - Jan 2023, AR, AU, BE, BR, CA, CL, CO, DK, FI, FR, DE, IT, KR, MX, NL, NO, PE, ES, SE, UK, US, n=84,075 online consumers 18+ who shopped for the holidays in the past 2 days
7. Google Data, Global, April 6th, 2023
8. Product Studio is only available for a closed pilot and will be available in the US soon
9. Google data, Global, November 2022
10. Google Internal Data, 2022