For the First Time, Google Is Bringing Retail Ads to Image Search

Makes it easier for mobile users to shop online



To keep up with the influx of people shopping on their smartphones, Google is updating its offerings for retailers by launching ads in Google Images and introducing local inventory features.

While it's the first time Google has brought ads to the Image Search, the search engine giant has been testing them with various brands for months. The ads, which will show up next to related products photos in Google Images, allow interested users to click on images that direct to a retailer's website.

"Whether they're looking for a new sofa or the perfect pair of earrings, people who search and shop on their smartphones at least once a week say that product images are the shopping feature they turn to most," Jonathan Alferness, Google Shopping's vp of product management, wrote in a blog post published today. "And it turns out, the top questions Google Images users ask us are 'What's the price of this?' and 'Where can I buy it?'"

According to Google, mobile shopping searches have gone up 30 percent in the past year, while a third of all online research purchases in the U.S. now happen on mobile devices.

Google is also boosting the ways buyers can know which products are in stock at local stores. To capitalize on local search intent, retailers will now be able let users select "buy online pickup in store" by using store pickup links to local product pages. According to Google, total searches that include a store name, a zip code or a phrase like "near me" have doubled in the past year.

One of the first retailers to use the local inventory pick-up feature is Kohl's, which used the option to drive between 40 and 50 percent more clicks from their local online storefront on Google to the Kohl's website. Along with the local pick-up, Google will now also let advertisers using local inventory ads make their inventory searchable through Google Search.

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.