This post looks at Google Shopping’s rise, and considers how and why image-based advertising is growing.
Dominance of Google Search
Google Shopping owes a lot of its growth to the dominance of Google Search. Google is the master organiser of the internet, and stores information from tens of trillions of pages. Google Search has at least two-thirds of the market share on the web, and handles billions of search queries each day.
For a potential customer, likely to be searching on Google anyway, Google Shopping therefore offers a frictionless way to find products and shop online.
There are (at least)…
More and more images
Within Google, the format of image-based advertising is expanding, even cannibalising Google’s ‘traditional’ AdWords text ads. The number of clicks on Product Listing Ads (PLAs) as opposed to text ads continues to increase (see diagram below) and for non-branded ads PLAs make up almost three-quarters of paid search clicks.
This is largely because the format is more engaging for users, and a 2015 experiment by Explore Consulting showed that visitors originating from PLAs (image-based ads) compared with AdWords (text ads) had a:
- 16% lower bounce rate;
- 201% increase in average visit duration;
- 314% increase in viewing at least three website pages
The experiment concluded that PLAs drove higher quality visitors at a lower cost than AdWords text ads.
Mobile use driving image-based advertising
Smartphone use and mobile shopping have been major drivers of Google Shopping’s growth. Over 50% of Google Search ad clicks were from mobile phones in Q4 2016. Images (and PLAs) have quickly become the currency of advertising on mobile. Research from Business Insider found in Q1 2016:
- Sales from mobile PLAs had grown 164% Year over Year (YoY)
- Clicks on mobile PLAs were up 171% YoY
- Orders placed through mobile PLAs had grown 171% YoY
- Return on advertising spend (ROAS) was up 23% YoY