Google Courts Retail and Hotel Marketers With New Features

Tech Giant Rolls Out New Digital Options as Travel and Retail Searches Rise

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It may only be July, but Google wants you to know it's never too early to be thinking about holiday shopping and travel. On Tuesday, the tech giant announced a series of features to help marketers connected better with customers. The company reported that shopping and travel searches are up 30% year over year.

Retailers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia will soon be able to highlight their products in showcase shopping ads—providing an edge in retail searches where consumers just use broad terminology, like "brown boots." Google is planning to eventually roll out a premium version, which gives even more control over curation to merchants, explained Jonathan Alferness, VP of Google shopping and travel.

"The different advertising format for shopping will put the retailer first," he said.

In addition, Google is expanding its TrueView YouTube video component for shopping with two new features. Merchants can advertise via an interactive companion banner which runs alongside a video, and they can also prioritize which products show up first with Google's new product picker. Mr. Alferness noted that TrueView has seen a 50% increase in advertisers using it since January. The company is also focusing on currency conversions to support cross-border ecommerce.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, whose parent Alphabet reported first-quarter revenue this year of $20.3 billion, is also fine-tuning its travel offerings. Working with hotels, the company is introducing smarter filters to further narrow hotel search results, deal labels to highlight bargains on hotel searches, hotel tips about getting the most bang for your buck, and flight price tracking where travelers can opt in to see price changes. Such features will roll out within a few weeks, said Richard Holden, VP, product management, travel.