Google Reportedly Getting Ready to Add Buy Buttons to Mobile Search Results

Google Reportedly Getting Ready to Add Buy Buttons to Mobile Search Results
While the move has been rumoured for a while now, Google is reportedly set to rollout 'buy buttons' in the coming weeks to accompany sponsored product results in mobile search. The buttons are said to lead through to Google product pages, complete with payment and shipping options.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which cites people familiar with the matter, the new service is one that Google is finding difficult to pitch to retailers - the largest spenders on search ads. While it is aimed at helping retailers get difficult conversions from mobile searches results, it also alienates them by turning them into backend retail channels.

To avoid this, the search giant on its Shop on Google product pages - which as per WSJ will let shoppers choose colour, size, shipping options - will give customers "options to opt in to the same marketing programs" they would have experienced with the retailers themselves. This will also give retailers customer addresses and other contact details to be able to contact them for future offers if they opt in.

The WSJ report adds that the Google product and payment pages will be "heavily branded" for the retailer, and further buying recommendations will only be from that retailer. Google will handle the payments independently, storing users' credit card and other payment information, and handing over only the transacted amount to retailers. Several methods of payments will be offered, including via other providers, and depending what is chosen by the user - either Google or the retailer will show up on credit card statements.

The report clarifies the buy buttons will not be visible on non-sponsored results that are powered only by Google's own search algorithm, and will instead carry on forward on the current practice of retailers sending Google product data and paying for click-throughs. Google itself will continue to be paid by the same advertising model, rather than take a cut of the payment.

As readers would imagine, the planned move is a big one, where Google makes the major shift away from being just a search engine for products to a shopping engine complete with payments. WSJ cites some retailers as saying they are worried Google will go from being a source of traffic into a marketplace. The report adds that several retailers are already in talks with Google about the service, with Macy's being one of them.

(Also see: Taking the Web Out of E-Commerce - Why Indian Companies Are Ditching Their Websites)

The move is being planned for several reasons, the report claims, including how mobile searches are slowly outnumbering desktop searches, a trend already seen in 10 major countries including the US and Japan. Mobile ads are also less lucrative and effective, the report adds, with smaller screen sizes and lower ad prices. Finally, visiting the mobile website of a retailer, and entering payment and shipping information, is also more difficult and less secure on mobile than on desktop.

It is interesting to see how this all ties into the recent moves by retailers that have announced their focus on mobile apps rather than mobile websites, a focus so single-minded in some cases as to forgo even the desktop site. Both sponsored and non-sponsored search results on mobile already lead to some retailers' apps directly, whether in the form of an app-install suggestion or the opening of the app if already installed on the user's smartphone. While this would to some extent bypass Google's proposed use case for its buy buttons, how ads are served on mobile is still a factor.
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