Last year, Amazon made a bold decision to start advertising their products via Google Shopping Product Listing Ads (PLAs), a.k.a. Google’s paid shopping ads program(!). Retailers, don’t fret: You can actually leverage this new development to increase foot traffic and promote in-store purchases.
In 2012, Google’s Product Search shifted from being a purely organic product search tool to a pay-to-play shopping channel. Because Google started charging for their ad space via Product Listing Ads (PLAs), Amazon decided to de-list their items.
Amazon invested heavily into product promotional tools available almost entirely on their own channel — building out advanced advertising platforms including Sponsored Products, Amazon Marketing Services and expanding their ever-growing Prime membership program.
But as seen in the example below, it appears Amazon is back in a big way, testing product ads within Google’s Shopping platform.
This means that the already super-competitive and difficult (read: expensive) Google Shopping ad space is becoming even more challenging for smaller (and mostly regional) retailers and indie e-commerce.
There’s growing concern that if Amazon continues to advertise products in the Google Shopping space it could deter customers from purchasing from other (most likely smaller) Google Shopping advertisers.
So what can independent retailers and e-commerce brands do about it? Or, how can retailers drive conversions and compete with Amazon’s brand power and encroaching Google Shopping dominance?
The Key to Increasing Foot Traffic: Mobile Local Search.
“82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in a store.” (Source: Think With Google.)
We sat down with Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace Strategy at CPC Strategy to find out what he thinks of Amazon’s recent decision to begin advertising on Google PLAs and what impact this could have on other Shopping advertisers.
Although Amazon offers free 2-day shipping, smaller retail brands might be able to drive in-store traffic by targeting consumers in real time.
Local Search-Meets-Real-Time Need (a.k.a. Use Your Size and Location to Your Advantage)
For example, if your target customer is on their way to a dinner party but forgets to bring a present, do they want to order something from Amazon and wait for delivery? No, they need something now.
What You Can Do
Here are three paid Google search features retailers should definitely explore in order to boost foot traffic and in-store purchases when you need it the most (isn’t that all the time?).
- “Near Me” Searches — These searches doubled last year on Google, likely due to the rise of mobile, and we expect this trend to continue. As a result, retailers can take advantage of just how local they are — and create strategies so they are present in the moments when and where consumers are searching.
From Think with Google: “Consider this: Foot traffic in retail stores has declined by 57% in the past five years but the value of each visit has nearly tripled.”
“What’s Happening? Mobile is driving local. People use their smartphones before heading in-store — to gather ideas, research products, and then search for local information.”
- Promoted Places in Google Maps — Retailers are also testing “Promoted Places” in Google Maps to showcase special offers and announcements in hopes of driving more foot traffic to their stores. One in four smartphone users accessed a map through a web browser or an app before making the purchase.
- Searchable Local Inventory — Searchable local inventory is also expected to double this year. Customers have a better shopping experience when they can see what is and isn’t in stock nearby. This can also influence a customer’s decision on who they decide to buy from.
Even though it may look like Amazon is taking up all of the oxygen left in the Google product search space, rest assured, there are plenty of savvy tactics that smaller, independent Google Shopping advertisers like yourself can implement — it’s simply a matter of taking advantage of what makes you so special in the first place.
By Tara Johnson, Lead Retail Reporter at CPC Strategy