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Brief Published: 14 Mar 2019

Shoptalk: Pinterest & Google Launch Image-Based Shopping


In response to brand hunger for monetising visual search, Google and Pinterest announced new tools at 2019’s Shoptalk retail conference in Las Vegas (March 3-6). Both offerings allow brands to more efficiently usher consumers from searching online images to purchase.

  • Google’s Shoppable Image Ads: People searching Google Images aren’t simply after a picture, but also information or help (Google, 2018). Questions like “What’s the price?” and “Where can I buy it?” top the list, according to Daniel Alegre, president of retail shopping and payments at Google. To monetise this intent and serve the 50% of online shoppers who claim a product image prompted them to make a purchase (Google, 2019), the tech giant is rolling out shoppable image-based ads within its Images search section. As with other sponsored content, these sit above organic results. 

    Consumers can hover over products shown on the images (or tap on a smartphone) to see item names and prices and click through to buy from the advertiser. The feature is in testing with select retailers around queries including “home office ideas” and “abstract art”.
  • In-App Shops & Personalised Recommendations: Google is catching up to Pinterest, where brands including US retailer Macy’s already integrate shoppable advertisements into users’ feeds (see The Brief). Serving the 48% of American social media users who say they are searching or shopping for products when using Pinterest (Cowen, 2019), new feed features include a dedicated ‘Shop a Brand’ section that surfaces entire e-commerce catalogues from brands including Levi’s. In addition, newly launched personalised recommendations suggest fashion, beauty and home products based on users’ previous preferences. See Monetising Social Media 2018.

For more, see our full-event report on Shoptalk.