A Huge Acquisition & A Very Surprising New DTC Player

Thanks for subscribing to The Cache - a weekly summary of the most important stories, trends, & commentary in eCommerce marketing, curated by Rob Bettis.

An Inspiring Product Feed

News from the last few weeks has been highlighted by the return of free listings in Google Shopping and Shopify’s new ‘Shop’ app. These are two different approaches to solving the same two problems: product searches increasingly begin on Amazon and product inspiration takes place on social.

The shortcoming I find in both approaches is a lack of inspiration. Although you could make the argument that their implementations lacked inspiration, I am more so referring to their inability to inspire through their implementation. Both rely heavily on product photography from data feeds to populate their offers. The only problem is the product photography in most data feeds is woefully uninspiring - by design.

Suppose I have money burning a hole in my pocket. Compare these to an Instagram feed or a Pinterest board.

Google Shopping Results
Shop Results


In my mind, there is an easy solution for both ecosystems - something that could could give the Google & Shopify announcements legs.

Let’s take a look at the attributes that drive the product feeds that populate data in Google Shopping.

If your product has multiple images, you submit the main image using image_link, and include all other images in the additional_image_link attribute.

Simply put, the image_link is what shows in the results above. It’s standard product photography, a closeup of the product with a white background and limited application. Google’s requirements even state:

Accurately display the entire product and include minimal or no product staging.

And staged product photography, explainer images, and images highlighting value props are relegated to the second-class status of additional_image_link.

What if instead they offered something akin to marketing_image_link? Retailers could assign marketing-friendly products to their listings - a product cover photo, if you will - that is actually inspiring. Other product shots would remain a click away and the results pages above would look more like an IG feed than a clearance rack.

(FWIW, Shopify does not need Google’s support to execute their own version of this plan. They could update their CMS to allow retailers the ability to upload and assign the photo that populates their own app.)

This option could be yet another industry-specific attribute (apparel retailers already have their own set of unique attributes). Or you could even have a toggle in your search settings that would allow a searcher to pick the view they prefer - as a search for something technical, like a bolt, would have different needs than a search for a shirt.

This subtle & easy change could breathe much-needed life in both of these new products.

🔎 Search

Google My Business Reviews Backfilling Now

Google suspended displaying new business reviews in Google Local/Google My Business in March. Well, now, Google seems to be showing new reviews and backfilling old reviews that were submitted between now and then.

A heads-up for those of your whole manage review moderation.

Google tests ‘Curbside Pickup’ badge for local Shopping ads

Google has been piloting the “Curbside pickup” feature with a small group of Local Inventory Ad (LIA) retailers since the end of April. Officially announced Monday, the badges appear at the top of eligible ads on both mobile and desktop results.

To get “Curbside pickup” enabled in your LIAs, you’ll need to meet the criteria for Store Pickup and offer same-day or next-day pickup from the time the order is placed. To join the beta, you’ll need to reach out to your Google reps or fill out this form.

Criteria can be found here and the request form can be found here

When Google announced last month that its Shopping search results would include free listings, it also announced an integration with PayPal. That integration is now live.

Retailers and brands using PayPal as a checkout option on their sites can link their PayPal accounts to their Google Merchant Center accounts in order to onboard products for listings across Google. If you’re new to Google Merchant Center, the PayPal connection can also speed up the merchant verification process.

Chromium Blog: Protecting against resource-heavy ads in Chrome

We have recently discovered that a fraction of a percent of ads consume a disproportionate share of device resources, such as battery and network data, without the user knowing about it. These ads (such as those that mine cryptocurrency, are poorly programmed, or are unoptimized for network usage) can drain battery life, saturate already strained networks, and cost money.

In order to save our users’ batteries and data plans, and provide them with a good experience on the web, Chrome will limit the resources a display ad can use before the user interacts with the ad. When an ad reaches its limit, the ad’s frame will navigate to an error page, informing the user that the ad has used too many resources. Here is an example of an ad that has been unloaded:

🗣 Social

Facebook Welcomes GIPHY as Part of Instagram Team

GIPHY, a leader in visual expression and creation, is joining the Facebook company today as part of the Instagram team. GIPHY makes everyday conversations more entertaining, and so we plan to further integrate their GIF library into Instagram and our other apps so that people can find just the right way to express themselves.

I find it hard to believe this would pass antitrust measures, but we will see.

From Axios, who originally broke the story:

Facebook is facing enormous blowback over its previous acquisitions, which means that this deal, however small by comparison, is likely to face a lot of antitrust scrutiny by regulators. The tech giant is currently under investigation by federal and state lawmakers for antitrust.

The bottom line: Giphy is a massive video library, with hundreds of millions of daily users that share billions of GIFs, that generates revenue via branded content. Adding Facebook’s ad sales and marketing firepower could be what transforms it from a popular service into a highly profitable one.

Facebook Continues Creating In-Stream Ad Transparency

Facebook is continuing to expand an advertisers’ ability to control where their ads appear. Four tools have been expanded as of yesterday, specific to the in-stream ad placements brands can run on as a placement option.

A nice set of new tools for folks who utilize video in their Facebook advertising.

📈 Reporting & Revenue

People Are Buying Everything Online During the Pandemic – Adweek

Some of the data in Adobe Analytics’ April ecommerce report, released today, is an almost comical snapshot of the current moment: Online pajama sales rose more than 143%, online grocery shopping is up 110%, and online alcohol sales surged 74%.

And from TechCrunch on the same study:

In addition to the growth in specific categories, April also saw sizable growth in “buy online, pickup in store” orders. From April 1 through April 20, these surged 208% year-over-year as people attempted to practice social distancing while shopping.

“buy online, pickup in store” has one of the very best/worst acronyms in digital marketing: BOPIS.

I’m glad to see BOPIS is soaring. 📈

🛍 Marketplace

Why PepsiCo launched 2 new direct-to-consumer sites | Food Dive

PantryShop.com allows consumers to order specialized bundles containing PepsiCo’s top-selling pantry favorites from brands including Quaker, Gatorade, SunChips and Tropicana within categories such as “Rise & Shine,” “Snacking,” and “Workout & Recovery.” The other site, Snacks.com, enables shoppers to choose from more than 100 of their favorite Frito-Lay products like Lay’s, Tostitos, Cheetos and Ruffles, as well as dips, crackers and nuts.

No doubt, a sign of the times.

🔒 Security

GoDaddy notifies users of breached hosting accounts

The company says that it has not yet found any evidence of the attackers adding or modifying any files on the impacted accounts’ hosting.

Additionally, the company assured the affected users that only their hosting accounts were affected as part of the incident, while their main GoDaddy account was not accessible to the attackers.

Customers are also advised to conduct an audit of their hosting accounts to make sure that everything is in order.

This breach is seemingly tied to a previously known breach of Web.com, Network Solutions Inc. and Register.com from October, 2019.

While the issue seems limited to hosting, due to the risk, it is probably worth poking around in your GoDaddy account to make sure everything looks correct.

🦠 Coronavirus

8 Ways DTC Retail Will Evolve During and After the Coronavirus Era

What does the future of DTC look like if and when the the pandemic eases? In a recent Retail Brew panel, we asked Helena Price Hambrecht, founder of Haus, and Web Smith, founder of 2PM, to weigh in.

This whole list is spot-on.

🛠 Tips & Tools

A fantastic thread of wisdom.

Exporting final product data from Google Merchant Center

Have you ever wanted to see the impact of your supplementary feeds and feed rules on final product data sent to Google Ads? Or perhaps want a full, deduplicated export of your multiple source feeds, all in one place for auditing your feed content.

We’re happy to announce the public beta release of our new Google Sheets Addon; Merchant Center Exporter, which allows you to export all API and feed data, all in one place, in a familiar interface. 🥳

Organize your tabs with tab groups in Google Chrome

Now, with a simple right click, you can group your tabs together and label them with a custom name and color. Once the tabs are grouped together, you can move and reorder them on the tab strip.

This is functionality has been needed for a long time. I’m glad to see it. Although I haven’t played with it yet, based on the gifs in the post, my money is still on Workona.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Just For Fun

The Office (Slack)

Every episode of The Office recreated in Slack

This is very well done.

👋 Holla!

Questions, comments, inquiries? I’d love to hear from you! Email newsletter@robbettis.com.