Wow! Once I did the search myself I was pretty amazed to see how much space this ad is actually taking up on the SERP (search engine results page). Jennifer Slegg from the SEM Post spotted this test that Google is running with the LARGEST AD EVER seen on the SERPs. It appears to be a mix of a product listing (or shopping) ad and a Knowledge Graph panel. Check it out below:
Compare this to the normal shopping ad results with a few bland text ads to the right of the SERPs:
As you can see, the new ad format takes up just about the entire right side of the page. But, don’t get too excited, if you look closely you’ll see that this isn’t just one ad for one advertiser, but rather a price comparison between different e-commerce sites and stores. So no, one advertiser cannot pay to completely dominate the right side of the page, but rather can be included in the product comparison sponsored ad on the right side. It looks like regular, non-sponsored Knowledge Graph results, but it’s definitely sponsored. Google started experimenting with adding ads to the bottom of Knowledge Graph results early back in 2014, but most of the info there was still organic.
“The way Google lists the pricing in these makes it much more obvious which options are the less expensive ones, so advertisers will probably have to ensure they have the least expensive option if they take advantage of this new format,” says Slegg.
Along with the clearly marked sponsored tag at the top, the other information that appears to be included in these ads is:
The searcher also has the ability to click on “View all stores and prices” to be directed to a more thorough product comparison page, as seen below:
These gigantic ad formats appear to only be triggered for specific product searches in the U.S.
Take a lucky guess, to get advertisers to buy more ads! “It’s no secret that Google wants to monetize the search results page as much as possible,” says WordStream Founder Larry Kim. In a recent post Larry discussed another one of Google’s recent tests, the commercialized answer box where Google was providing users with commercial answers with an image and a link to a brand’s landing page. It wasn’t an ad, but Google was clearly interpreting an ambiguous query as commercial (with intent to buy) rather than informational. It could have been an ad.
Similar to these commercialized answer ad formats, these new gigantic ad formats are just another way that Google is extending the options for advertisers to reach users in a more enticing manner (leading users to interact more with ads, and therefore leading the advertisers to buy more ads). While Google does have their own goals in mind, I think they are also keenly aware that results need to be gained in order for new ad formats to work, which brings me to the next question…
It’s too early to say, but if the format does become available I’d assume that most big spenders will love the option to take up more real estate on the SERPs. Since it will be easy to compare prices, each advertiser will need to be sure that they’re putting out the best option for their target audience. Whether that be the product in the best condition or the one for the lowest price with free shipping, advertisers will need to be profoundly aware of how they stack up to their competition. Brand loyalty and reviews will also likely come into play during the user’s decision making process. Regular advertisers competing against these large ads might have a difficult time so for the smaller players these could have a negative impact depending on how they’re adopted by the big brands.
Again, too early to say since we still aren’t sure if Google will indeed make these gigantic ads a new ad format or not, but if they do I think the outcome will only be positive for users. Think about it, if you’re shopping for a specific product, wouldn’t you rather get the best deal possible? These new formats make it extremely easy to compare prices, reviews, shipping terms, and all of the other details that are important to the shopper in a much more efficient, side-by-side manner then regular shopping ads.
Slegg has a positive outlook on these new ads for both the user’s experience and the advertiser. “It is nice to see Google testing out various formats to see what not only performs best for advertisers but offers a good user experience,” she says. “These new PLA’s do give users a ton of information that many would find useful. So it really is a cross between advertising and useful content to users.”
What are your thoughts on these gigantic shopping ads? Leave your comments below, I’d love to know!
Margot is a content marketing specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.
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