Search Strategy Q&A

Posted on November 13th, 2019 by Mary Caitlyn Polovich

Google has been investing in its shopping products to keep up with competitors like Amazon and Instagram. Recently, Google revamped its shopping program to include visual product search, price tracking, and a “buy with Google” capability. True Media Senior Search Strategist Steve Sherfy is here to to help you understand what this means and how exactly it will effect Search Advertising. 

Q: How do these updates change the game for Search?

A: For quite some time the game has been ‘find it on Google, buy it elsewhere (either on Amazon or the seller directly)’. Other platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram have moved into their territory in the ‘discovery’ phase, but most people still fall back to the idea of searching on Google for the things they discovered on the other platforms and buying through shopping ads or buying on Amazon.  With Google adding in the “buy with google” feature, it is an attempt to capitalize further by bringing the purchase in house and away from retailer sites and Amazon as much as possible. This shows that the new battle is time on platform — with the longer the time on any one platform, the more likely that platform will be utilized through the entire buying cycle. This change illustrates that shopping has fundamentally changed and it is not going back to previous formats.  For most retail clients that means adjusting how they think of reaching their customers and earning their customer’s purchases. Optimized product feeds and shopping ads are no longer something nice to do, they are a necessity.

Q: In regards to the updates being an attempt to compete with Amazon and Instagram — who do you think will accomplish this best in terms of growth and opportunity? 

A: Google has made themselves synonymous with discovery and these new features play into the growing consumer demand for ease and quickness of purchase.  If they are able to seamlessly integrate the entire cycle for the consumer, Amazon is the most likely to feel the pinch.

Q: Google will soon be beta testing the ability to automatically optimize for brick and mortar store visits into campaign, as well as segmenting out new customer acquisition shopping campaigns from those for existing customers.  How can this help retail clients specifically?

A: Some retail clients still do not have e-commerce as a high priority, especially clients in the Farm and Home space, where many products have shipping charges that make buying online a less desirable choice.  With store visit conversions being a metric to optimize against, this can be a game changer for these retail clients, allowing them to enter into the shopping campaign space with an offline goal that can be strategize and measured.

Q: Google is also attempting to fine-tune its search results to handle more general searches. For example, broad based searches would include typing “living room ideas” or “outfits for Fall” — these searches will now result in more image-driven advertisements, along with aggregated content. How does this change how keywords are used? Will they be necessary or used moving forward? 

A: There will never be a time when keyword-based search is a necessary tactic for paid search.  However, keyword-based campaigns do need to evolve with consumer search practices along with available options for targeting.  These changes bring to the forefront the need to segment paid search campaigns by age and other demographic indicators as generational differences in online discovery and purchases have never been greater.