Get visual on Search Engines. And what’s next?

Get visual on Search Engines. And what’s next?

Remember the time when we were only exposed to text-based links on the search engines? Well, today, we have the possibility to showcase different content types (videos, images, social, etc.) on the results page.

So what’s new on Search Engine Results Page? Earlier, in October 2013, we were informed by Google about its controversial move on testing giant Banner Ads on the search engine’s page. You can view more Google banner ads example at Marketing Land.

Southwest Airlines testing Banner Ads on Google

What are the opportunities available for luxury brands on search engines?

Traditionally, luxury brands have preferred using rich-media content for advertising. Google’s banner ads, in that context, offer the ideal space for visually presenting the brand universe. However, this feature is limited for a few selected participants in the United States.

Are there more such features available on Google for luxury brands? For our enthusiasm, the answer is ‘Yes’.

In July 2013, Google announced the beta release of image extensions for AdWords, a Google platform for running paid search ads. This extension allows advertisers to display three relevant images along with the paid search ads on the search engine results page (SERP). 

There are few luxury brands such as Chanel, Roger Dubuis and Ralph Lauren who have already explored this feature.

Chanel’s Image Ads on Google SERP
Roger Dubuis’ Image Ads on Google SERP
Ralph Lauren’s Image Ads on Google SERP

It can be speculated that Google is now following the footsteps of its competitor, Baidu, who holds the largest search engine market share in China. Luxury brands on Baidu’s BrandZone, a special paid search format, are already benefiting from the visually engaging features which include videos, animations, interactive buttons, social components, etc.

Burberry’s Baidu BrandZone format

Baidu’s BrandZone format provides a whooping average click-through-rates (CTR) between 60-80% as opposed to its classic text-based ad format. Many analysts and digital experts suggest that this outstanding CTR performance is attributed to the versatility of BrandZone’s visual components which is spread across a larger portion of the SERP real estate.

Can we expect similar click engagement levels from online users on Google’s Image Extensions? Yes. In fact, search experts on many forums have reported that it provides a significant CTR increment and ROI improvement which is primarily due to the visual engagement. In short, it highlights the importance of visual content and marketing.

Are these new features appropriate for luxury? And should luxury brands adopt them?

Conventionally, the luxury industry has preferred to have a complete control on the communication for its marketing purposes and thus, securing from any open brand criticism and possible brand image dilution. This, in fact, was a major influence of their slow adoption to the digital strategies especially on social media.

But, with new propositions such as image extensions, luxury brands can enjoy their desired practices in addition to the performance benefits. Luxury brands now have such platforms to share and express their brand story and craftsmanship visually for every appropriate search query on SERP. This will provide customers a brand experience and play a vital role in their purchase decision.

What’s next? And what can we expect for 2014? 

By closely investigating the trends across the globe, we can see that search engines and other platforms are integrating multiple components of digital into their core algorithms such as Google’s Search + Social + Display strategy and Facebook’s Social + Search + Data exchange.

For the luxury industry, we should expect more innovative offerings from search engines and social platforms in the visual & rich-media front. In addition, we should be open to test these new features and technologies, signifying that luxury brands are pioneers.