'Shop the look' lets a consumer shop the items featured in the images that brands, bloggers, retailers and publishers post online.

Google is testing a new mobile tool to help shoppers at the top of the so-called purchase funnel—that is, those who aren’t seeking a particular product—shop the items featured in the images that brands, bloggers, retailers and publishers post online.

Google is calling the tool, which launched today for apparel and home decor images, “shop the look.”

Here’s how it works: A consumer looking for a new dress to wear to a wedding searches “cocktail attire” on Google. Among the results she sees is an image of a fashion blogger wearing a black cocktail dress, heels and sunglasses. Shop the look lets her tap through the image to find those exact—or visually similar—products in Google Shopping ads.

Like other Google Shopping ads, retailers pay for the ads on a cost-per-click basis and the impressions and clicks are reported within their existing Shopping campaigns.

The elements within an image must be tagged—by a brand, blogger, retailer or publisher—for Google to return Shopping ads within shop the look. Google is working with a variety of vendors that retailers can work with to identify and sell the products featured in an image shared on Instagram and other social networks. The three vendors Google acknowledges working with are LIKEtoKNOW.it, which is a tool retailers can use to make Instagram images shoppable; Curalate, which is best known for its Like2Buy product that lets a retailer drive shoppers from Instagram to its site; and Polyvore, a shopping-oriented social network that lets users create shoppable collections of products.


Shop the look builds on Showcase Shopping ads, the image-focused ads Google rolled out in July that aim to make it easier for shoppers searching for broad-based items, such as “living room furniture,” to find what they’re looking for.

“90% of smartphone users say they aren’t absolutely sure of the specific brand they want to buy when they begin shopping, and nearly half of U.S. readers consult blogs to find new trends and ideas,” Melissa Hsieh Nikolic, Google Shopping senior product manager, writes in a blog post. Shop the look aims to help drive product discovery.

Google isn’t the only company using images to help consumers discover and buy looks. For instance, Looklive, a startup founded by Karmaloop founder and former CEO Greg Selkoe, is blending e-commerce with the content of celebrity-focused magazines. The men’s fashion site features photos with captions often seen in tabloids, such as “Lana Del Rey grabs coffee at Western Bagel,” or “Justin Bieber Leaves Tape Nightclub.” Consumers click on the images and see where they can buy the outfit the celebrity is wearing in the photo, or where they can buy a similar version at a lower price.