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As concerns about the COVID virus and its variants start to rise again, parents once again find themselves preparing for both in-person classes and potential virtual schooling while doing their back-to-school shopping this year. 

To help brands reach these parents and ensure they have everything their kids need to face the school year, Google has put together a short guide of tips and suggestions for running local ads right now. 

Put Your Products Online

The first step to reaching parents shopping online is to actually have your products online. According to Google’s own polling, more than half of all back-to-school shoppers are using the internet to check in-store inventories and find new products. Slightly less than half (48%) are specifically looking for stores that are providing safe shopping options like curbside pickup or contactless shopping. 

Thankfully, putting your inventory on Google has gotten easier and easier over time. Even better, one of the fastest and easiest ways is currently free for many retailers in the U.S. 

Until September 30th, Google is offering free trials of Pointy, a tool that attaches to POS barcode scanners to quickly add products to your online shop. 

Local Inventory Ads

Many retailers think that online product ads are strictly for online shoppers who want products delivered to their door. This isn’t entirely the case, though. 

Brick-and-mortar stores can also advertise the products available in your stores with local inventory ads. 

These make it possible to showcase products you have available for store pickup, curbside pickup, and more – meeting the diverse needs of shoppers today.

Highlight Your Local Store

With up to 60% of back-to-school shoppers planning to do at least some of their shopping at local businesses this year, it is more important than ever to be sure people can find information about your store online. 

Google recommends using Local Campaigns to not only reach local shoppers, but specifically drive store visits, calls, and other actions with high local-shopping intent. 

As their guide says:

“Local campaigns are a simple yet powerful solution for retailers of all sizes to promote their locations across Google Maps, Search, YouTube, Gmail and the Google Display Network. You can drive foot traffic for store reopenings, special in-store promotions, updated business hours and specific products that are available in nearby stores.”


The distinction between online and in-store shopping is getting more blurry with every year, as people use Google to find local stores, local products, pickup options, and more. As a local business, it is essential to be prepared for these mixed shopping methods and be able to reach your customers no matter where they are looking for your products. 

Google is putting the spotlight on local businesses in search results with a new location extension ad format rolled out across AdWords this week.

The new format includes big photos, store location and information, as well as typical ad features like an attention-grabbing headline and ad copy, as you can see in the example below.

Location Ad Format

It is still not exactly clear exactly when the ad format will be shown in Google results, but Google uses an example of a local bakery using ads to target nearby users reading a cooking blog. According to their test results, approximately 60 percent of clicks on the extension info were to get directions or store location information.

Interestingly, you may not have to do anything for some of your ads to start showing in the latest format. Text, responsive, and 300×250 image ads may be dynamically converted to the new location extension format in related searches from nearby users, unless you opt out in the Location Extension section of the Extensions tab in AdWords.

If you’d prefer to take matters into your own hands to optimize for the new format, simply select the option in the ad gallery in AdWords under “general purpose ads.” From there, you can upload up to three pictures, a logo, and your ad headline and copy.

shopping-carts

Google is rolling out a new update to its Local Inventory Ads that let allows searchers to browse in-stock products when they search for a business. That means if a users searchers for your business, they could browse your inventory straight from Google.

So far, the new features are limited to a small number of retailers, such as Macy’s and Ikea. However, it is expected to continue spreading to businesses of all sizes in the coming months.

The update is not a surprise, as Google announced the expanded features utilizing their its Knowledge Graph and Google Maps back in May. However, it was first spotted this week by Nicolai Helling who captured a few screenshots of what it looks like out in the wild.

shopping-google-my-business-web-EN

With the new features, you’ll see a new line in the Knowledge Panel underneath your NAP (name, address, phone number) information which says: “Search items at this store”. You can also find this in Google Maps underneath the store’s hours.

If a user clicks on this, they’ll be taken to a page hosted by Google where you can refine exactly what item you are looking for. If they select a specific product, they will then be directed to a dedicated page product information as well as information about where to purchase the product online or in store.

To use the feature as it rolls out, you will need to be signed up for Google’s Local Inventory Ads program and be running ads with your products and inventory information.