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As online shopping continues to be the norm during Covid (and perhaps after it), Google has embraced the reality in several ways.Google announced last week the latest additions for this push: Image Extensions, enhancements to their Smart Shopping campaigns, and some upgrades to visuals in display ads.While on the surface, this might seem like routine housekeeping and updates for a platform, they’re interesting indicators of how Google is moving relative to other platforms.One of the often-cited reasons advertisers turn to alternate platforms like Facebook is that it’s strong for finding top of funnel users (ie, new prospects who may not be searching yet for something), and the rich visual options it provides.By contrast, Google has relied heavily on bottom of funnel in the past (remarketing), or users further in the purchase journey because they are already searching for something. They also felt clunkier and more labor-intense for shopping and comparing, an area that Amazon has dominated for many years.These small additions give clues that Google knows these things. Improved visuals, more interactivity and ease-of-use for shoppers are all small steps to help close these gaps, which have been noticeable the past few years.Here’s a detailed breakdown of the features, almost all of which are available as of right now.Image Extensions BetaOne of the loved parts of Google’s Discovery Campaign types is the visual element.Google’s search platform features previously been two main functions for retailers to show ads based on searches: search (text ads) and Shopping (visual). Many advertisers have liked the blend that Discovery campaign feature, because it blends the text and visual portion, though they do not show based on purchases.Now, there is an Image Extensions beta program. It is available specifically for search ads, and it lets retailers either add their chosen photo to accompany text, or Google can automatically choose one via their machine learning.Accounts eligible for Image Extensions will see the notice in their account when they go to the Extensions area.AdvertisementContinue Reading BelowSmart Shopping EvolvesSmart Shopping is also upping its informational game and overall presence.This automated Smart Shopping campaigns will now be able to show annotations for things like fast shipping or free shipping, giving consumers additional information in the ad:Later this year, Google also notes there will be dynamically-generated carousels appearing in the shopping experience: And there will also be the ability to include video content within display ads:AdvertisementContinue Reading BelowGoogle is now also enabling bidding specifically for new customers on Smart Shopping. The setting is part of the Conversion Goals feature, with a checkbox for “New customer acquisition,” and the ability to assign a value to a new user based on that conversion.Responsive Display Gets a FaceliftBuilding on this upgrade, better options for responsive display ads are now also available.New layouts, auto-generated video ad formats all got a more modern refresh.  In addition, dynamic ads can now display your logo and business name, call out promotions, and spotlight single products:Google’s full announcement can be found here.AdvertisementContinue Reading BelowImages courtesy of Google

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