When most people consider purchasing items on the internet they usually turn to Amazon, or the bidding site eBay. They don’t think of YouTube. It seems Google wants to change all that with their recent announcement at the Google Marketing Live Summit, that they will be bringing Shoppable Ads to YouTube. It’s already commonplace to see advertisements on the side of YouTube videos, but now Google is looking to introduce a whole new layer of advertising with their recently revamped version of Google Shopping, the search engine’s retail hub. It appears Google is under pressure to catch up with Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram, who have thus far been highly profitable in utilising their huge cache of user data to market to the target audiences that brands want to reach.

With this new Shoppable Ads upgrade, users will be given the option to purchase products or services without ever leaving the platform or even having to stop the video.  The Shoppable Ads will be distinguishable by the blue shopping cart icon located to the right of the ad.  The feature will not only allow you to purchase products from the site but also browse through products from other online retailers and nearby local stores. Now that the feature has been updated to include in-store purchases, it will allow users to more easily arrange items for in-store collection. This service is still in beta and requires merchant participation to join.

In effect, this means that if you’re on Google’s app or watching YouTube, Google can now utilise that stored data of users to customise  Shoppable Ads and generate clicks and conversions.  Thanks to this revamp, Google can customise ads in a way not yet seen before. For example, if a YouTube creator uploads a makeup review on an eye shadow pallet, Google will now be able to give people the option to purchase that specific item.  The company also announced that they will have a new dedicated customer service team that will deal with any customer queries or concerns, such as refunds and exchanges. This will replace Google Express brand, their previous service for dealing with shopping and deliveries. Businesses that are currently signed up to Google’s Shopping Actions will automatically be opted into the Shoppable Ads upgrade upon launch.

Although this offers great new opportunities for brands and businesses in terms of marketing potential, not everyone is thrilled about the news. Heavyweights in the tech industry, such as Facebook, have come under fire for abusing their power and breaching privacy laws before. Many people are concerned about the amount of data being stored to create these highly individualised ads. Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s senior vice president of advertising and commerce, tried to assure people in an interview with CNET that the company will use “as little data as possible, whilst still showing relevant ads”. However, some still remain skeptical.

Regardless of how you feel about Google’s adherence to data protection policies or lack thereof, this news undoubtedly offers huge marketing potential for brands and businesses. The ability to not only target a particular demographic of users but to market specific products also, opens a large number of opportunities for merchants. These improvements are part of a larger effort to more effectively compete with the likes of Amazon, and take back some of the e-commerce market share, (of which Amazon has mainly been monopolising).

To learn more about Google’s new ad system for YouTube and see the keynotes from the Google Marketing Summit 2019, click here.

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