With October promptly coming to an end, the holiday retail season is fast approaching. Which makes it the perfect time for Google to introduce a new bunch of innovations to help advertisers enjoy a better festive period and year throughout 2018. And this is precisely what the tech giant is announcing as we gear up for November – the month where festive advertising starts to get serious.

Google has a collection of new ad formats, features and improvements read to boost your holiday advertising campaigns and we’re going to summarise them all in this article.

Make your brand and products more discoverable

The first innovation to talk about is a new ad format which comes with the new AdWords experience that rolled out to everyone earlier this month. Showcase Shopping ads allow you to group together a selection of products related to users searches and present them as a collection or your brand.

Google started testing Showcase Shopping ads last year and it says the results were very promising. They’re designed to help users who start with brad search terms decide what to buy and where from. For example, someone who types in “black jeans” is probably a long way off from finding the right pair. Showcase Shopping ads give you the chance present searchers with the range of option – eg: your best-selling black jeans and a variety of styles – to increase your chances of getting the sale.

Here’s what Google has to say about the new ad format:

“Consumers sometimes know exactly what they’re looking for, but over 40% of shopping-related searches on Google are still for broad, research-oriented terms like ‘women’s athletic clothing’ or ‘living room furniture.’… These ads let brands curate a collection of lifestyle images and products to help people explore and discover what they want to buy and who they want to buy from.”

Google is also enriching the search experience for consumers on the lookout for a new outfit.

The new apparel search experience includes a more visually rich design, including brand logos and filters to help shoppers refine their search. It gives users more incentive to delve further with their searches and get closer to making a buying decision – perhaps even buying on the spot.

A “similar looks” feature also allows users to pick a style they like and extend their search to other items that might take their fancy.

Bridging the gap between search and store visits

One of the biggest challenges for the advertising giants face is bridging the gap between online search and in-store visits. Google is looking narrow the gap this Christmas with a number of new search features.

The first is a local search format with Google Assistant, which is highly popular with Android phone users and almost impossible not to use for Google Pixel and Google Home owners.

As soon as users say “Ok Google, where can I buy [product type] nearby?” users get a local pack of results for listings from stores with related products in stock. That in-stock element is important because this listing format is designed to get people placing online orders immediately or visiting stores to make the purchase.

Unlike Showcase Shopping ads, this format is intended for people who know what they want and need to know where they can get it from – locally and quickly.

Aside from the new local listing experience, Google also wants to help you understand how and why ads are connected to in-store visits. The tech giant has been working hard t collect data on this relatively unknown relationship.

“People who click on a Google ad before visiting a store are over 25% more likely to buy something while they’re there and spend over 10% more, on average.”

Based on these findings, Google is introducing a number of new reports to help you generate more hihgh-intent, in-store visits from your ads:

  • Time lag report (available now) – see how long it takes users to visit a store after clicking on your ad and understand how quickly they take action offline.
  • New vs. returning customer report (coming soon) – understand how many of your store visits come from repeat customers. Together with the time lag report, this can help you gauge how your ads drive incremental visits.
  • Demographic report (available now) – add store visits as a column to your existing demographic reports to see which groups are more likely to visit your locations.

This comes after Google introduced distance and location reporting last year, which means we’ve got significantly deeper insights into how effectively ads generate in-store visits. And just in time for the upcoming Christmas rush, too.

Making the most of these innovations over the festive period

With multiple new ad formats and search experiences being released at the same time, the challenge for many advertisers will be getting the best out of them this holiday season. The only complaint we can really have is that they’re being introduced this late on in the year – especially when the new AdWords interface has only just been rolled out for everyone.

So, if you have any concerns about making full use of these innovations this Christmas, be sure to get I touch with our team of experts for further advice.