At its Search On event this afternoon, Google announced a number of shopping-related changes and new features in areas like visual shopping, personalization and buying with trusted reviews. The additions are intended to help the company better entice online consumers to buy from Google, instead of searching directly from Amazon, as has become the norm for many online shoppers today.
Worryingly, Amazon has steadily eaten away at the core of Google’s search ad business over the years and is expected to capture 14.6% of US digital ad revenue market share by now. 2023, according to data from Insider Intelligence. Google’s share, meanwhile, is expected to drop to 24.1% by then, from 31.6% in 2019, according to the report.
To combat this threat, Google has invested heavily in its Google Shopping services, including making listings free for merchants and then embedding these free listings in Google search results. Today, the search and ads giant increased its shopping graph to 35 billion product listings — a figure that has grown by nearly 10 billion over the past year, the company notes.
One of the new ways Google hopes to be more competitive is to make shopping on Google more fun for consumers than simply searching for products on Amazon’s site.
On that front, the company is launching a new feature called “Shop the Look” in the US that will be discoverable as part of the now more visual shopping experience on Google. This feature will position a shoppable display of products alongside lifestyle images, guides, and other tools in your search results. It can also be triggered by typing the word “shop” before your query, such as “buy bomber jackets”, for example.
To “shop the look”, users will be able to see the product they had been looking for – such as a jacket – as well as other items that complement the outfit, which can also be purchased from the same tool, similar to previously launched features. with Google. Lens.
They will also be able to see trending products that are popular right now in the same category as the item they searched for across different brands and designers. (Google defines trends as products that reach a certain threshold of increased searches and user interactions over the past week, it says). These features are coming to the US this fall.
To make the shopping lists themselves more appealing, Google will soon begin testing a 3D shopping feature for shoes, to continue its existing support for 3D household items – a change that Google says has increased commitment. Users interacted with 3D images almost 50% more than with static images, according to the company.
Initially, 3D imaging will be tested with a handful of business partners before scaling up. To support this, the company has developed a way to automate the creation of 3D assets. Thanks to machine learning improvements, Google can now only use a handful of product photos to create the 3D image. This new model relies on neural radiation field technology, a type of neural network also known as NeRF, which can create new views of 3D scenes using 2D images, Google says.
Initially, the pilot will include a handful of merchants like Van’s and Skechers, but Google plans to add more over time, including smaller sellers.
“While some traders have these types of 3D images, for many others, especially small traders, creating these types of 3D assets can be very expensive and time-consuming,” said Lilian Rincon, Senior Director products for shopping at Google. “We really believe it has the potential to change the game for small traders and we’re excited to release it,” she added.
Another new feature is designed to help people make more complex purchasing decisions that typically require a lot of research.
Typically, consumers read a variety of sources to make a decision about a higher value product, including product reviews, news, online articles, recommendation sites, customer reviews, and more. To simplify this process, Google has introduced a new “Shopping Guide” which will bring together the most useful resources from a range of trusted sources, including Google user reviews, articles, product reviews and more. . This feature launched in the US, but will soon expand to include more insight categories.
Additionally, Google will be adding a new tool called “Page Insights” to the Google app in the US in the coming months. This will allow consumers to learn more about products on a website, including their pros and cons and star ratings. They can also choose to receive updates on price drops for items they follow.
However, one of the biggest changes coming to Google Shopping is the addition of opt-in personalization, coming to the US later this year.
While companies like Meta and Snap have struggled with the impact of Apple’s privacy changes (App Tracking Transparency) that allowed users to opt out of tracking, limiting the sites’ ability to show them personalized ads, the Google’s response to the privacy crackdown is to let consumers choose directly to personalize their shopping experience with intentional clicks.
To do this, consumers can tap buttons to instruct Google to remember the types of categories they want to buy – like “Women’s Department” instead of “Men’s Department”, for example – or even tap to choose their favorite brands to ensure they are highlighted. in their future Google Shopping search results. The company says the idea was prompted by its user research, as consumers told the company they were frustrated at seeing irrelevant search results.
Google indicates that the user controls these settings and can activate or deactivate them at any time.
“We took a long time to do this very carefully because we absolutely want to make sure people feel like they’re in control…if you at some point don’t want to share that information with Google – if you want to turn it off… you can,” Rincon explains.
Google is also adding new shopping filters that appear on pages when you search for various products, which will now adapt to search trends. That is, you might see “wide leg” or “bootcut” pop up when shopping for jeans right now, as these styles are currently popular in searches on Google.com. These “Smart Filters” are now available in the US, Japan, and India, and will come to other regions over time.
Finally, the Google mobile app will highlight suggested styles based on your previous shopping searches and what others have purchased on Google. You can tap on these suggestions and see where to buy the products through Google Lens.
Combined, Google believes these changes will help make shopping on its platform easier and, in some cases, more fun for consumers. But the larger reality here is that Google needs to find a way to prevent users from diverting their searches to other sites, like Amazon, because it affects its ability to sell ads and its results.