As retailers envision a cookie-free future, Google introduces new customer marketing tools

Google: I always try to shop on Google.

The search giant on Monday announced a new suite of customer marketing tools. Google also announced that Smart Shopping campaigns, which are campaigns linked to a merchant’s inventory catalog, will be integrated into its new Performance Max product by the end of the year.

A handful of new tools aim to improve Google’s buyer conversion rate. Merchants who meet the speed of shipping, shipping cost, and return policy requirements can qualify for a “Trusted Store” badge. A Price Insights tool informs sellers when the same or similar items are cheaper or more expensive elsewhere online.

Despite years of investment and reorganizations, Google hasn’t become a major shopping channel, aside from its search engine traffic or people switching from search to Maps to find a real-world store. (attribution is cursed). A Trusted Store icon and the Pricing Insights product help retailers help Google, by making its purchase funnel slightly more slippery.

Google’s latest client marketing effort is called Performance Max, which was launched in 2020 and made available to all advertisers in November last year. Performance Max is part of a general trend by Google to consolidate its proprietary media and advertising empire. Rather than the traditional search and sponsored product ads used by online stores, Performance Max campaigns span Gmail, YouTube, and Maps. Advertiser budgets are channeled based on algorithmic products powered by Google AI.

Merchants using Performance Max can track whether someone is buying using product reviews on YouTube or through email newsletters, said Tina Weyand, senior director of product management for retail ads at Google. . Some customers are retargeted on Google’s display ad network before switching to Maps to find a nearby store with a product.

Retailers can take an even more granular approach and enter their own customer values ​​into the system with the new Performance Max features, she said.

A shopper who regularly returns or buys an item of different sizes in the hope of making a return is actually a less valuable target than someone who bought and never returned, or a new customer whose lifetime value is still unclear.

For example, Chico’s, a pilot advertiser for Performance Max, has several retailers under its womenswear umbrella – White House Black market, lingerie brand Soma Intimates and flagship Chico’s. Each has its own distinct customer funnel, said its vice president of marketing Kimberly Grapel.

If the Soma brand sees someone browsing their sleepwear category for 10 minutes or more before making a $300 purchase, that customer likely has a higher lifetime value than another $300 shopping cart that was greatly reduced. If Soma brings a purchase history with this customer, he can see that he only bought during heavily discounted sales.

“From an advertiser’s perspective, the name of the game here is customer lifetime value,” Grapel said. Embedding customer value in advertising involves taking a “more holistic approach” to working with Google’s media and data products, Grapel said, rather than “chasing people independently at different points in their journey.”

With Performance Max, advertisers sacrifice some control, in terms of the ability to track or retarget individuals, but can create more structured ways to optimize campaigns, said Ryan Gibson, vice president of strategy at agency Adlucent, which works with Chico’s on its retail media. The advertisement.

“No matter how much data we have as an agency or what brand Chico’s has as a retailer, Google has a wide range of information about the consumers it engages with,” Gibson said. . By using the combined datasets, Chico will find more people who match its target audience, but also expand to more known Google users.

However, Performance Max will not replace a retailer’s YouTube advertising budget. Gibson said the best practice is to maintain the YouTube brand alongside Performance Max on YouTube. Since Performance Max is based on the product catalog, it targets known potential buyers who might be close to a purchase, but are not using the Google search engine. Other YouTube campaigns build brand awareness, but aren’t necessarily tied to specific items in the product catalog.

Chico’s move from siled search, YouTube, email and Google display ads to consolidated Performance Max campaigns was slow. The company tested the new product brand by brand, Grapel said. Using this type of product is part of Chico’s transition plan to cookieless media. Finding new ways to advertise in privacy-focused proprietary data environments is a priority.

“Every time Google announces a change, an advertiser must be a little worried about what that change means to me,” she said. “But now we feel a lot more comfortable being able to get ahead.”

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