Google introduces ‘Showcase Shopping’ ads that help consumers who use vague search terms zero in on what they seek.

Google’s newest image-focused ads aim to make it easier for shoppers at the top of the so-called purchase funnel—that is, those who aren’t seeking a particular product—find what they’re looking for. 

Those consumers represent a large share of shopping-related searches; Google says more than 40% of shopping queries on its search engine are for general terms like “women’s athletic clothing” or “living room furniture.”

While those searches have long resulted in specific product ads, such as a yoga pants or a teal sofa, that approach “may not be the most useful experience for the person who isn’t sure what they want to buy,” writes Jonathan Alferness, Google vice president, product management, in a blog post.

The new ad format, called “Showcase Shopping” ads, let a retailer pay to select the images that Google displays in paid search results for particular search queries or keywords. When a consumer clicks on the image, Google takes her to a page with additional product information. For example, if a consumer searches for “summer dresses,” a retailer like British online fashion retailer ASOS Plc can use the ads to showcase its dress collection in the image-focused format. When the shopper clicks on an image, she sees that ASOS offers free shipping, delivery within five to 10 days and a 30-day return policy, plus more dresses.

In addition to the Showcase Shopping ads, Google is tweaking YouTube’s TrueView for shopping ads that let retailers include product details and images within a video ad and provide a link to the retailer’s website. The ads soon will allow retailers to include a banner companion next to a video so a consumer can scroll through product images and information while watching a video.


Google also is letting merchants choose and prioritize which of their products are in a TrueView for shopping campaign. Retailers don’t have to select products; instead they can continue to let the format dynamically feature products based on what a shopper has previously looked at on their site.

Google says advertisers are embracing its TrueView for shopping ads, which it introduced last year. It says the number of advertisers using the ads has grown 50% since January and that, “in recent weeks” roughly one-third of advertisers use the ads every week.