New Mobile Shopping Features Bring Even More Competition to Holiday & Beyond

With less than a day’s time remaining before the frenzy of the upcoming Holiday weekend ensues, Google seems to be particularly focused on one theme: more mobile shopping. Over the last week, both an updated product knowledge panel and a slightly redesigned Google Shopping experience have been introduced, with a shared focus on creating a richer, more detailed and more easily accessible shopping experience on a mobile device.

It’s good news for time-strapped and mobile savvy consumers who can now look to their mobile devices for better product insights; and that makes it inherently good for brands hoping to see more conversions on mobile this holiday season. And at a time when the volume of searches and purchases happening on Amazon only climbs higher, it’s a smart strategic move for Google. But, it does create a more competitive environment from both a paid and organic search standpoint, which could influence some strategy shifts throughout the next several weeks of Holiday, and into the New Year.

First, a breakdown of the physical changes…

Mobile Product Knowledge Panel – The Changes

In running our own mobile searches, the new knowledge panels appear only for brand + product (or just product) + model/version specific queries. In the examples below, we searched for Bowflex Max Trainer m5 (the first example spotted by the industry), iPhone 8 and Fitbit Charge 2, all which show the end user a new interface to browse an Overview of the product, different Stores that sell it (shopping ads), Reviews of the product in carousel form, and in some case, more specific Details about the product. The mobile user has the opportunity to view these different sections individually across tabs, or they’re able to scroll to see them all, drawn out much further down the SERP.

In the case of the iPhone and Fitbit, the shopping options in the ‘Shop on Google’ section appear in an easily scrollable carousel format, with those options being stacked in list form when the user opts to explore the Stores tab. Intriguingly with the Bowflex search, only one paid listing appears in both the Overview and Stores tabs, which belongs to Bowflex.com. More on this later…The Reviews section is pulled from various editorial sources, Google’s Product Ratings program, and other review platforms like productreview.com.

Knowledge Panel_5

Knowledge Panel_2

Knowledge Panel_1

‘Quick View’ Mobile Shopping – The Changes

Less drastic, but falling into a similar theme as the mobile knowledge panel, is a slight redesign of the Google Shopping experience on mobile. According to Google, the change, “helps you search for gifts by bringing more product information to the forefront” with a ‘Quick View’ button within the shopping ad – when clicked, more product details, like a bigger image, reviews, seller ratings and related or updated items are revealed. Note, different from the product knowledge panels, the ‘Quick View’ option within the carousel of shopping ads is shown for generic nonbrand search queries, like the “coffee grinder” example below.

Knowledge Panel_7

Knowledge Panel_8

What the Changes Mean Now

With any change to the search engine results page, performance should be monitored with a closer eye, especially over the rush of the Holiday weekend. Much more consumer attention will be paid to these shopping panels for most queries with commercial (retail) intent, so it’s important that marketers are optimizing for these queries, and are present in the appropriate data-sources Google pulls from going forward. For instance, it would pay for brands to solidify their Wikidata, where the Manufacturer to Product is generally associated.

The biggest area of focus for both paid and organic is how drastically the new mobile changes impact the SERP environment. Because the areas now acts as a “one-stop shop” for product information and reviews, it could negatively influence the motivation to scroll down much further to view traditional paid search ads and organic results. This kind of change in real estate could also very likely increase the competition for shopping ads, particularly in the Overview tab. Paid teams would be smart to ensure PLA budgets on mobile are set to compensate for the increased competition, and for top three visibility in the Overview carousel. We might also expect to see increased conversions on mobile, as Google suggests.

From an organic search perspective, the change in real estate means that traditional organic listings may see even less traffic on mobile than they have in the more recent past. But at the same time, it reinforces the importance of editorial content, native content and influencer mentions, and so maintaining a consistent content strategy encompassing these elements is crucial for authority in the Reviews section, as is a continuing focus on long tail keywords and content.

In terms of attribution, we may see Shopping ads receive more last-click credit down the conversion funnel, being that product + model searches generally show someone that is closer to a purchase decision. This means that contributions from organic and other sources along that path to purchase will be more critical.

What this could mean in the future…

We focused on the Bowflex Max Trainer example more specifically, for the reason that the query only showed one paid result within the new knowledge panel. Yes, the brand likely has paid share over the product, but it also led us to think about a scenario when only one paid result will be shown, or in this case, heard: in a voice search world. Paid and organic search marketers alike have toiled over how ads will exist when the end user is looking for the one, perfect search result. In showing only one ad for the Bowflex query, we could interpret it as Google taking a step towards the solution for a preferred paid ad in voice.

As we’ve discussed in a previous post, the ability to eliminate points of friction for the consumer is a top priority, both for marketers and for Google. We’ll be monitoring client performance closely over the upcoming weekend to see what kind of impact these changes to the SERP have on consumer purchase behavior on mobile devices. Stay tuned for our annual Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday performance updates!

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