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Google's New Tool Lets Retailers Find Shoppers Based on What They Search For -- And Where

It's another pitch from Google to marketers that search intent is worth their buck.

janmayra / ThinkStock

On Tuesday, Google gave an early holiday gift to the big box stores. The company announced a new ad product that takes two of its biggest strengths — search data and mapping data — and packages them for retailers, letting them identify shopping trends in individual U.S. markets.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s SVP of advertising and commerce, said the search giant will allow retailers to tap into insights yielded by search queries to understand shopping trends in individual markets. Google is calling the tool Shopping Insights.

“We’re digesting search data and telling them what’s happening at a product level,” Ramaswamy said in remarks Tuesday at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive conference at The Montage in Laguna Beach, Calif.

In a presentation, Google illustrated the bicoastal differences among consumers shopping for a game console. In New York City, search queries showed that demand for the Sony PlayStation 4 was double that of Microsoft’s competing Xbox One. But in Los Angeles, gamers were nine times more interested in the Microsoft game console.

Google’s new analytics even showed what platforms consumers favor on different days. For instance, shoppers tend to search on their phones on Black Friday, typically one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season, but they turn to their desktops for online deals on Black Monday.

The tool is part of Google’s recent push of what it calls “mobile moments” — an attempt to convince marketers that search intent is the critical signal for purchase intent, as more ad dollars flow to rival Facebook and onto mobile, where Google has fewer advantages.

Jonathan Alferness, Google’s VP for shopping, detailed the product in a blog post: “Shopping Insights also gives you a clearer look at the devices people are using during their ‘I-want-to-know, go, do, and buy’ moments, so you can plan your campaigns for the right screens.”

Here, for example, is Google’s map for the spread in searches for the “emoji joggers” that inexplicably became popular this year.


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