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Google adds shopping to Image search as it seeks to dominate product discovery

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Online shoppers could soon be buying products through Google Images as the search giant trials putting clickable ads within image search results.

The new format allows retailers to highlight products within their sponsored ads. When a shopper inputs a query into Google Images, they can hover over sponsored ads and find information about items within the image that are for sale.

The trial is taking place in the US with a small percentage of traffic from a limited number of retailers, with more retailers to follow over the next few months. Some of the queries include “home office ideas”, “shower tile designs” and “abstract art”.

In the blog, Google said it wanted to “help consumers in these moments that will drive them to the final purchase.”

The trial is part of a wider pitch to retailers, following last month’s expansion of the Merchant Center tool to allow retailers to provide it with product data so the search engine can present it to consumers.

Google wants to monetise the fact that shoppers often use it find new products. In the blog announcing the initiative, it cited a study saying it was the first place US shoppers go to discover new products.

However, Google’s hegemony does not necessarily extend elsewhere. An inRiver survey of consumers across the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium found that 45 percent go to Amazon first when looking for a specific product.

This compared to only 28 percent using a search engine first and 11 percent going to a brand’s website.

Google did not give details of other markets where it might introduce the service.

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