Oh just what I wasn’t looking for…
I wasn’t in the market for a ChapStick, magazine, ginger & lemon peel flavored bottled water, or VerMint’s organic mints. Frankly I don’t need these things. Rather, I’m bored and waiting to check out at Whole Foods. As you probably know, every product in a store is carefully placed to create maximum appeal – whether it’s the sugar-laced cereal at children’s eye level or the items you find carefully staged for impulse-buys at checkout. It can be argued that the only better place to study marketing and human psychology, besides your friendly grocery store, is Vegas.
Well, let’s not rule out the digital marketplace. This marketing and psychology mindset is something that the tech giant Google knows, has studied and even excels at, but I’m losing confidence fast and here’s why.
Today Google unveiled a new feature for their mobile search ads, called Purchases on Google, allowing the consumer to purchase from ads. This feature has been a long time coming with the Wall Street Journal first reporting about it in the spring (Google even confirmed it).
So what exactly does this mean and how does it work? The mobile ads you see will have a “buy-now” button. This button will allow you to quickly purchase whatever product you’re interested in, directly from the merchant (not Google), using mobile ads.
Hmm… So let’s take a closer look at this idea. Hypothetically, I’m up north in the Boundary Waters and magically able to get a signal on my smart phone. I’m also getting eaten by mosquitos (our state bird here in Minnesota) and desperately searching for an on-the-fly (pun intended) remedy. When “auto-magically” an ad for OFF bug spray and mosquito repellent pops-up on my mobile device with a buy-now button. Great! Just what I need! (However, it’s still a little creepy that Google is using location services on my phone, coupled with my search history to serve me an ad that knows this much.) So I click on the buy-now button and what happens? The product then ships to my house in 24 hours. What good is it going to do me there?
See that’s just the thing with impulse buys; typically they take little thought and are for immediate consumption and enjoyment. I think the fear of missclicks, and the fact that drones aren’t buzzing around to deliver products instantly will keep most consumers from using this feature.
It might be a great way to get people to load up an online shopping cart but I’m very skeptical they’ll complete the purchase on their mobile device, via ad. This is very much the cart before the horse scenario; people aren’t ready just yet, like with Google Glass. At the press event held in NYC today, Google said they are working with only “a dozen” or so retailers with this feature in beta. The grand plan is to roll this out to advertisers in the United States by late 2015 or 2016.
Well Google if that’s the case, I’m expecting drones to deliver my impulse purchase in real time. As much as I would like to see that happen, I don’t think the stars will align along with the Federal regulations in time. Sorry Google, this is a great idea on paper, but in terms of execution I give it an F for now. We are a want-it-now society based on instant gratification and the buy button for impulse buy ads seems way too early. You still need to clear the hurdle of getting people to adopt Google wallet, or store their payment information in their devices. As an expert in SEM as much as I want to get excited about this, I don’t see it picking up traction prior to 2017 or 2018. Until then, I’ll keep my impulse buys in the checkout line (or eBay).