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Google Shopping by Mobile: Those Who Search Do Not Necessarily Buy

No one now denies how important mobile devices are for searching online: within the user search funnel, they play an essential part of the process of informing users. Google says up to 69% of all users use their mobiles to look for products, with 44-57% of all smartphone users looking for information locally at least once a week. So it's hardly surprising that searching online via smartphones helps in store sales. What about buying online in specific industries, though? How far does searching via mobile devices actually help online shop sales?

People often use mobiles to look for products, but not necessarily to buy them

People often use mobiles to look for products, but not necessarily to buy them

QUISMA tested this for a client in the building trade. The results were surprising:

This client has been using Product Listing Ads since 2012. The feed data quality is high, and performance is good across the board. The campaign is optimised by focusing on the cost to sales revenue ratio. Aiming to increase their range, and given that being present on smartphones is very important to the target group, they decided to extend their Product Listing Ads to include mobiles for a preset trial period.

The costs doubled right from day one, rising 600% on average over the period as a whole. They boosted their range and visibility massively and so met their secondary target, while, at the same time, their sales volume remained virtually unchanged. So their cost-sales ratio deteriorated by 160% in all, despite intensive optimisation work.

They gave up targeting mobiles again after just a few days' testing; but their performance figures failed to recover for weeks, despite intensive, broad-based optimisation work, and were well down on their performance before.

These findings should not be taken as indicative for all industries, products or brands, as there are many input factors which govern how brands perform. To QUISMA, though, they had a decisive impact when it came to planning future campaigns: extending performance campaigns to smartphones in the building trade does not pay. Users appear to research products in this segment intensively, but only a small proportion of these potential customers reach the actual goal, i.e. buying.

Let's be quite clear about this: mobiles are and will remain a major tool when it comes to searching online. But while this channel has become increasingly important as far as consumers and hence advertisers as well are concerned in recent years, beware when it comes to mobile Google Shopping campaigns!

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