Google recently announced that AdWords Product Extensions would be available to all UK advertisers, after what feels like a very long period of beta testing with select merchants.
They look like this, for anybody unfamiliar with them:
Product extensions provide consumers with additional (mainly visual) information about products, and provide advertisers with more of a showcase for their wares. I have to admit I’ve yet to click through because of them – a situation that will no doubt change as coverage rises.
I can see them working especially well for advertisers offering products in the same category that appeal to different tastes but that attract the same keywords – e.g. different types of chair (antique carved wood to minimalist metal) listed in a Product Box triggered by “dining chairs”.
However, my betting is many retailers are unable to quickly adopt Product Extensions – because of their own website technology. I never cease to be amazed by the number of brands who have a good website and little or no capability to regularly create, manipulate, update and publish feeds from it; meaning they can’t utilise Google Merchant Centre to boost their product coverage in Google. There are lots of brands out there whom think they have feeds and are fine; in fact their feeds are often lacking photos, basic information (i.e. data attributes) and generally are a dog’s dinner.
Of course here at Steak we have tried and tested ways around these problems using our own capabilities or those of selected 3rd party providers, but the fact remains: brands would save themselves time, money and missed sales if they paid feeds a little more attention; something underscored by some of the points made in Gareth and I’s Splinternet essay and talks. Feeds are going to be more important in future – not less; Product Extensions are just one immediate example of that.