Making Travel and Shopping Easier for the Seasons Ahead

While most of us are busy making the most of the summer sunshine, marketers are already beginning to think about the coldest (and busiest) months of the year--the holidays. October through December are traditionally the biggest months for both travel and shopping, and this year we expect mobile to play its biggest role ever. In fact, mobile travel and shopping searches are already up nearly 30% year-over-year.

To help marketers and on-the-go shoppers alike, we’re introducing a number of new features to make travel planning and mobile shopping easier ahead of the upcoming holiday season.

Finding the Perfect Hotel and Flight for Your Trip 

Mobile is a big part of how people plan travel. Visits to mobile travel sites made up 40% of total travel web traffic in the first quarter of this year.1 At the same time, individual travel web sessions are becoming shorter and travel mobile conversion rates have grown 10% as users are increasingly ready to book on mobile.2

To help with planning and booking travel ahead of the busy holiday season, we're making it easier for people to find the right flight or the right hotel, in their price range, and in turn, help connect our partners with potential customers.
  • Hotel Smart Filters: We’ll now give people the option to filter Hotel search results based on specific needs. For example, travelers can filter based on rating or price with one tap on their phones. We’ll make it easy to search for exactly what people want, like “Pet-friendly hotels in San Francisco under $200” to find the perfect hotel for them. This feature is available in the US and will roll out globally later this year. 
When it comes to booking their trip, 69% of leisure travelers worry that they're not finding the best price or making the best decision. To help users feel more confident about making a booking, we're working on making it easier for people to filter to find the right flight or the right hotel -- at the right price -- using our technology and real-time analysis:
  • Hotel Deals: Everyone loves a good deal. When searching for a hotel, you may now see a "Deal" label calling out when a hotel’s price is lower than usual compared to historical pricing or when there are discounts to the normal rate for those dates. These deals are automatically identified by our algorithms when we see a significant reduction in price. In our early tests, we've seen that hotels marked as deals receive about twice as many bookings as other hotels. 
  • Hotel Tips: Tips are another way we're using real-time analysis to help users find the best hotels for their needs. Tips provide just the right information at the right moments when users are searching for hotels. We may show Tips to people when they could save money or find better availability by moving their dates slightly. For example, you may see a Tip like, “Save $105 if you stay Wed, Jul 13 - Fri, Jul 15”. We’ll be rolling Hotel Deals and Tips out globally beginning now and over the coming months. 
  • Flights price tracking: To help price-conscious travelers stay on top of changing flight fares, we’re making it easier to track flight prices in Google Flights. Instead of having to continually check prices, people can now opt in to track fare changes for a date and route combination or track specific flights being considered. When prices either increase or decrease significantly, people will be notified by email and Google Now cards. This is rolling out over the course of the next few weeks in all 26 countries where Google Flights is available. 
Google Flights: tracked flights on mobile and email notification of price change

 Helping Shoppers Discover and Explore 

We've always been focused on helping people find the exact product they're searching for when they have a good sense of what they want. But over 40% of shopping related searches on Google are for broad terms like "women's athletic clothing" or "living room furniture." For these less defined searches, what we've often shown are specific product ads -- say, a teal sofa -- and that may not be the most useful experience for the person who isn't sure what they want to buy.

Showcase Shopping ads help people further explore and discover what they want to buy and where they want to buy it. For example, if a shopper searches ‘summer dresses,’ ASOS, a global apparel retailer, can now showcase its collection of dresses in a visually rich experience.
Showcase Shopping ads - premium beta
To start, all merchants running Shopping Campaigns in the US, UK, and Australia will be eligible to have their products automatically appear in Showcase ads in the coming weeks. And for merchants who would like to customize how their brand and products appear, we're experimenting with a premium version that allows merchants to curate the experience.

Making it Easier to Shop on YouTube 

People often turn to YouTube to help them research purchases. In fact, almost half of the U.S. population, 47%, says that YouTube helps them when making a decision about something to buy at least once a month.3

Last Spring, we introduced TrueView for shopping to make it easy for viewers to get more information about your products and click to buy while watching video ads. We've seen great results so far. The number of advertisers using the product is up 50% since January and in recent weeks, about 1/3 of them are using it every week.

To help give retailers even more control over branding, we're introducing two new features:
  • Companion banner: We’re adding a new interactive banner appearing next to the video that lets viewers scroll through products while the video is playing next to it. The banner also shows viewers the most up-to-date product information. 
  • Product picker: Our new feature lets advertisers easily choose and prioritize which of their products are featured as cards in a TrueView for shopping campaign. This optional feature lets advertisers show specific products for specific campaigns, or they can still let the format dynamically feature products from their Merchant Center.
Trueview for shopping - companion banner
We’ll roll out these updates globally beginning now where TrueView for shopping is available. For additional resources on TrueView ads visit our best practices page.

    Enabling Shopping Across Borders 

    These days, shopping is truly global. To make shopping more efficient for shoppers and merchants alike, we’re currently testing a tool to perform currency conversions in Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and the UK. This feature allows you to convert the currency in your product data locally. This conversion makes your ads more understandable to users in other countries, while allowing you to continue using your existing website and landing pages without change. For example, a person shopping in the UK can see products sold by a US retailer, listed in British pounds. We’ll be rolling out currency conversions more broadly over the coming weeks.
    Currency conversions

    And to get the latest consumer trends, research and advertiser strategies -- from brands like Best Buy, William's Sonoma, Swarovski, La Quinta and -- to help you with your year end campaigns, we’re releasing a new Retail Micro-Moments Guide and Travel Micro-Moments Guide.

    We wish everyone a summer full of great memories, and we wish marketers success in their planning for the seasons ahead!

    1. Google Analytics aggregated data, April 2016, Travel vertical, mobile devices include smartphones and tablets. US
    2. Google Analytics aggregated data, Q1 2016 quarter-on-quarter, Travel vertical, US 
    3. Google / Ipsos Connect, YouTube Sports Viewers Study, March 2016 (18-54 year olds onliners n=1,500)

    Source: Inside AdWords