Google is about to have a lot more ads on phones - Google announced a bunch of new ad types today that’ll start showing up throughout its mobile products, including some that interrupt the core Google search and discovery experiences.

Google searches on mobile will soon include “gallery” ads that allow advertisers to display multiple images for users to swipe through. You’ll also begin to see ads in Google’s discover feed — the feed of news stories that you find built into many Android home screens, inside the Google app, and on Google’s mobile homepage — though they’ll only appear in select locations for now.

The new ad formats are meant to make ads a lot more noticeable. In a blog post, Google ad chief Prabhakar Raghavan says that, in tests, gallery ads resulted in “up to 25 percent more interactions” than traditional search ads.
google ads on phone
google ads on phone
Gallery ads will only be launching on mobile, not the desktop. Discover ads will appear in Google’s mobile app, as well as on the discover feed on Android phones. Google tells us those ads won’t appear in the discover feed that’s built into the mobile homepage.

Google has been testing gallery ads in search since earlier this year, and it’s toyed with other image-focused ad formats in the past. But now Google says gallery ads will become widely available “later this year,” making them a lot more prominent.

More and more visuals have been making their way onto Google’s mobile search page in recent years. A search for a movie, for instance, will already pull up images of its poster and leading actors, as well as the photos used in top articles about the film. That’s in addition to quite a few other breakout pieces of information, like showtimes, review snippets, and video clips.

Amid all that extra information, adding visuals to ads makes a lot of sense from Google’s perspective. They’ll draw more attention to advertisers’ content, and since Google is paid per click, they could be particularly valuable.

The discover feed — a personalized feed of recommended news stories that Google displays on mobile — will also be getting ads for the first time. They’ll appear just like any other story, with an image on top, a headline, and a subject field with more information. But they’ll have a small badge that says “ad” to let users know it’s sponsored.

Those ads will extend to YouTube as well, where they’ll slot in alongside recommended videos. Discover ads will also roll out later this year.

Get ready to see more shopping ads on Google Search, Images and YouTube
Google is betting big on ecommerce with the latest update to its search engine.
The company is unveiling a redesigned personalized Google Shopping experience, along with introducing the idea of a universal shopping cart across its platform of services, including Search, Shopping, Images and even YouTube.

You can now discover and compare products from various parts of the Google platform through shopping ads, then choose to purchase them instantly using your Google account. “With this new experience, we’re merging the best of Google Express with Google Shopping,” the company said in a blog post.

By unifying the shopping experience, the move also aims to target rivals like Pinterest and Instagram, whose photo-based social platforms become increasingly popular among customers as a means to purchase products online.

That’s not all. In a separate development, Google also said it’s combining all its travel-related offerings – the mobile Google Trips app, Google hotels search and Google Flights – under one hood called Trips.

It still works the same way as it used to, meaning it will use trip confirmation emails and receipts from your Gmail inbox to build the timeline of your trip – and you’ll now be able to access all this on desktop. Until now, these features were only available if you downloaded the Google Trips app for Android and iOS.

In the coming few months, Google also plans to make accessible your trip information, including hotel and restaurant reservations, in Google Maps as well. It didn’t say if it plans to update the existing Trips app to incorporate flight and hotel search features; that’d make it a whole lot easier to plan future travels.

The search giant’s product portfolio has often been labelled as confusing and scattershot, with the company developing and releasing services that have significant overlap in terms of functionality and canceling those that don’t gain consumer traction in the long run.

In the last four-and-a-half months alone, Google has discontinued an alarming number of products like Chromecast Audio, Google Allo, URL shortener, Google Inbox, Google+, and many more. Later this year, it has outlined plans to shut down Google Hangouts, and also migrate users from Google Play Music to YouTube Music.

It’s good that Google likes to constantly experiment with different ideas, but given the company’s long history with abrupt changes to its product roadmap, it’s perhaps time Google decided on a long term strategy and told its customers just what the hell is going on. And these product unification efforts might just be the start it needs.

Google's New Cookies Features May Hamper Online Advertising, Improve Privacy
New measures limiting the use of cookies in the Google Chrome browser will give users more easy-to-access information and power over which cookies websites have installed on their browsers, crucially distinguishing between cookies that actually help you and those that glean data for advertisers.

Announced at Google's annual I/O developer conference recently, Google is also prohibiting another type of online tracking called fingerprinting. The ability to better control who's tracking you to sell you things sounds great for privacy transparency, but it's also beneficial for Google's bottom line. These changes are likely to impact the amount of data third parties can collect on internet users and give Google an even greater edge over competitors.

The dust is starting to settle on the announcement Google made at the conference, even if the details have yet to emerge, but a blog post about the new Cookies points out that they will limit the way third-party companies can use cookies in the Google Chrome browser while at the same time giving s its own use of cookies and ability to build personalized ads, a boost. Even better for Google – it can claim it is doing so in the interest of user privacy.

Changing Cookies And Fingerprinting
However, advertising companies are far from convinced and see in the move a subtle way for Google to give itself yet another edge in the online advertising space. Essentially, what the announcements from I/O do is give browser users more access and insight into what cookies have been installed on their computer and, even better, how those cookies work. The insights, Google pointed out, should tell users what cookies are helping them and what cookies are helping advertisers build personal profiles. It is also limiting online fingerprinting. Prabhakar Raghavan , SVP for Google Ads & Commerce explained in a blog post:

“Advertising has made possible open access to quality information and communication on the web—it’s changed the way people learn, play and earn, and it’s made the internet open for everyone.

“But the ad-supported internet is at risk if digital advertising practices don’t evolve to reflect people’s changing expectations around how data is collected and used. Our experience shows that people prefer ads that are personalized to their needs and interests—but only if those ads offer transparency, choice and control.”

The result is that Chrome intends to make it easier for users to block, or clear, cookies used in a third-party context, with minimal disruption to cookies used in a first-party context. While Chrome has long enabled users to block cookies, these changes will let users continue to allow their online banking site, for example, to remember their login preferences—a function that first-party cookies enable. It also continues to Google access to user data, giving it a major advantage over its online advertising competitors.

Details Remain Unclear
At face value, anything that improves privacy on the web through Chrome is a good thing, given that according to the most recent netmarketshare analysis from April this year, Chrome has nearly 66 percent of the market (around 90 percent of search queries are carried though Google search too).

Even still, as Paul Harrison, CTO at Fort Worth, Texas- based Simplifi pointed out, it is early days yet. While Google announced that they will be initiating new measures to support user privacy and control, Chrome has still not provided many concrete details on how they will implement this. They have said that they want to stop fingerprinting and are looking for a consensual tracking model, but this could be an opt-in model, a notification, or a control mechanism.

“Given the lack of clarity on the direction Google will take, it remains difficult to determine how this will impact advertising and what advertisers can do,” he said.

In general, he added, his company has not seen much impact on intelligent tracking prevention (ITP) as it has not been solely reliant on cookies. Even though ITP specifically isn't likely to be as impactful as some might think, the Chrome change will likely create a lot of engineering work for some on how cookies are dropped and declared.

This has the potential to drive DSPs (Demand-side platforms - a system that allows buyers of digital advertising manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface) to an identifier for advertising (IFA) approach and away from cookies. As an example, publishers are already working with 3rd-parties in their header bidding to cross match outside of the potential browser cookie limitations.

Impact Of Clearing Cookies
Ultimately, the main areas of impact will be desktop and mobile advertising, and to some extent, cross-device targeting, Rajiv Bhat, SVP for data sciences and marketplace at India-based InMobi, this will encourage a shift in spending toward mobile in-app advertising, which does not depend on cookies. Additionally, audience targeting will become more contextual and less personal.

Advertisers should also expect an impact on their data collection and processing pipelines if they are dependent on third-party data providers. One implication of the change is that users will be able to delete third-party cookies. The actual percentage of users clearing their third-party cookies is likely to be low in the short term as privacy-sensitive users adopt these changes.

Creating Advertising Roadblocks
Tiffany Schreane (Marketing and Advertising Expert and Professor with Fashion Institute of Technology and Borough of Manhattan Community College. She pointed out that if the amount of data (first and third-party) that is available for advertisers to use to have more effective marketing strategies is in invaluable, limiting will create a number of roadblocks that will be difficult to overcome. These roadblocks include: Not being visible to the full scale of where potential or current targeted audiences are seeing their placements so that advertisers can retarget in order to lead to conversions .

Not having full visibility of the amount of impressions are coming through the tablet, display or mobile devices – this helps marketers learn where to best spend their money Potentially limit the ability for advertisers to track how their ads are performing overtime – this also helps with marketing investment as advertisers can tweak websites overtime to better SEO efforts.

Welcome Privacy Controls
While it has the potential to limit the impact of advertising for many companies are welcoming the privacy controls it offers. Dan Goldstein, President and Owner of Page 1 Solutions, said that given the Chrome browser’s dominance, it allows Google to promote consumer privacy like Apple while distinguishing Google from Facebook with its multitude of data privacy scandals. He told us:

“This should be a positive step toward data privacy for consumers and it may force advertisers to focus on contextual advertising - advertising to consumers who visit specific web pages based on the content on those pages. Contextual advertising feels a lot less like Big Brother and benefits consumers by presenting them with ads that are relevant to the content of the pages they are visiting.

Of course there is no guarantee that even with the new additions users will actually use them. While the Chrome feature(s) will provide better clarity to consumers regarding the types of cookies that are being dropped on computers/browsers, this will certainly help in differentiating Chrome from other available browsers. However, Neal Patel chair's Cincinnati-based Frost Brown Todd's Technology Industry team, says that experience shows that consumers have generally not taken advantage of the tools that are currently available in the marketplace which allow them to limit or delete advertising cookies, whether the tools are offered through the Digital Advertising Alliance's consumer opt-out page at or via third-party tools like Ghostery.

“We do not anticipate that the potential new features for Chrome will have much impact on advertisers or online advertising networks. The reality is that if you ask consumers whether they like being tracked through cookies for advertising purposes, a majority will say no. However, few of those same consumers do anything to limit the activity,” he said.