Similar to ad units on Instgram and Pinterest, Google introduced Shoppable Ads on Google Images at the Shoptalk conference Tuesday. The sponsored images highlight products that, when moused over, reveal brand, price and other details.

But Google isn’t stealing from others. Google debuted Shoppable AdWords formats on YouTube in 2015. And last year it piloted an earlier version of Shoppable Ads for third-party sites and in Google search (including image search).

Capturing top of funnel shoppers. Google says that it’s currently testing these new units “with select retailers” for broad, top of funnel queries such as “home office ideas” and “shower tile designs.” I was unable to find any of these units in the wild but the .gif below reflects how they look and work.

Shoppable Image Ads

Google says it’s trying to enable retailers to reach shoppers in “inspiration phase” of shopping. Google also explained that it would be rolling out these units across more categories in the coming months.

Expanding Showcase Shopping. The company also announced that Showcase Shopping ads would be coming to Google Images, allowing a richer product presentation for brand marketers. And finally the company said that Merchant Center feeds and content will be available “beyond advertising,” explaining that “retailers can provide product data to Google, free of charge, so that we can start showing more of your product information to potential shoppers.”

Why you should care. Google is trying to help brands and product sellers reach consumers in more ways during discovery rather than just lower-funnel search queries. This is what Instagram and Pinterest do particularly well.

It’s also trying to make Google itself a richer visual shopping destination and prevent the defection of users to competitors’ sites that offer more “inspiration” and product discovery experiences.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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