Google says that six months of COVID-19 restrictions have produced changes in shopping habits that in typical times would have taken 10 years to transpire – and the company today is touting offerings for brick-and-mortar small businesses as a way to help.
One change, Google says, is that customers are doing more research about merchants and product availability prior to visiting stores.
Citing its own data, the company states that searches for "curbside pickup" have grown 3,000 percent worldwide from a comparable period in 2019. Searches for "takeout restaurants" have grown globally by 5,000 percent over the same period.
The company is promoting its My Business suite of services as an easy way for sellers to share information about operating hours and product offerings with potential customers, and also to see how customers are engaging with the business online.
Betting that customers want to know which products are in stock before visiting a retailer, Google is promoting its local inventory ads. Business owners can integrate the ads with inventory management systems.
The company is also promoting automated bidding systems as a way for retailers to more effectively place their ads.
By the end of the year, the search giant says, it will make it easier for companies to use exchanged view conversions, or ECVs, which it describes as a new, better measure of video advertising success. "EVCs measure the conversions that take place after someone views 10 seconds or more of your skippable ad, but doesn’t click, and then converts within a set amount of days," Nicky Rettke, director and product manager for YouTube Ads, wrote in a blog post. "EVCs are a more robust way to measure conversions than view-through conversions (VTCs), an industry standard that measures the conversions that take place after a person views an impression of your ad, but doesn’t click."
She added: "Our vision for the coming year is to give you more transparent reporting across both click and engaged-view conversions, aggregated and anonymously, and new configurability options for conversion measurement to make data-driven media decisions for your business."
In June, Google unveiled new services to make it easier for shoppers to exchange messages with merchants.
Since 2019, Google has been moving to challenge Facebook's longheld strong position in selling services and advertising to small businesses.