Here’s a speed summary of Google’s presentation this week at the 2010 Social Commerce Summit this week by Director of Product Management, Sameer Samat, who used the occasion to announce the launch a new Google Product Reviews Program (integrating customer reviews into search results and AdWords campaigns).

The Big Idea: Successful social commerce means a) thinking cross-channel – people will interact with any channel they want when they want, and b) matching internal structures to match shoppers  cohesive multi-channel market reality (no artificial online/traditional e-commerce silos).

1. Google sees its role in social commerce as part of it’s larger commerce objective to organize the world’s shopping information and make it universally accessible and useful. From a shopper perspective, Googles primary objective is to goal send users to the best places online/offline to complete their shopping task, whether research or transactions.  From a retailer perspective, Google’s objective is to connect retailers with shoppers, and provide retailers with data to improve the online shopping experience they offer

2. Google categorizes its shopping-related products by placing them into one of three ‘buckets’ – Google Product Search, Google (Shopping) Ads (with SKU details and availability data in the ad, and Google Merchant Services such as the recently launched commerce search, a search tool for e-commerce sites

3. There are three big trends driving Google’s research and development for shopping related products

i) Online-to-Store (O2S): The emergence of a new default shopping behavior – researching online and then buying in-store (45% of in-store purchases are influenced by online research (Forrester 2009), and 87% of internet users used the internet to browse, research and compare products in last year (eMarketer).  The number of product/brand queries issued to Google Maps rather than Google Search is increasing – as shoppers seek to make the transition from the online to the physical world.  Google research shows that online advertising increases physical in-store footfall.  To capitalize on the O2S trend, Google are indexing local availability and integrating – ‘in stock nearby’ data into location aware mobile queries

ii) Mobile: After years of promise and hype, mobile shopping technologies are becoming mainstream; the cell phone is now a shopping aid – 20% of shoppers said they planned to use their cellphone for holiday shopping last year (2009 Deloitte) – Google has evidence that it was higher than this.  Google has seen an exponential growth in mobile shopping queries in last 36 months (up 3000%), Red Laser barcode comparison shopping app became a top 5 paid apps in the Apple App store, whilst a free equivalent by ShopSavvy became a top 5 free app in the Android marketplace.  Add this to the fact that smart phone phone sales will overtake PC sales by 2012, and there are 4bn+ active mobile subscriptions, the mobile shopping trend – is set to grow. The opportunities for brands and retailers are to target users on a 1 to 1 basis on a device that is truly personal, that on all the time, that knows about you and your social network and commitments – and is location aware.  Google’s recommendation: If you’re not in mobile yet – now is the time to start exploring and experimenting with opportunities

iii) Social: Big trend we already know about, but not new – the Web is just catching up with people by adding a social dimension that mirrors our social lives; 24hrs of video uploaded to be shared on YouTube every minute, 270,000 words written every minute on Blogger – that’s 388M words a day.  And whilst much of this content is not shopping-related, people do often share information about products and services – 19% of Twitter content refers to a product or brand.  Google has seen that for younger people, YouTube is becoming their a product information resource – YouTube is the new shopping search engine.

Example; last week, skin diver Victor Huang in New Zealand was mugged by an Octopus (!) whilst trying out a new Panasonic (TS2) Lumix camera (see below).  The octopus stole the camera whilst the video was running and an underwater chase ensued.  Once the camera finally wrestled back from the erstwhile cephalopod, the resulting video was uploaded to the video sharing site Vimeo (and later YouTube).  The video went viral (2m+ views in a few days) and created long conversation threads – with much of the conversation happening focusing not on the improbable event itself but the toughness of the camera and the quality of the video (e.g.“Amazing footage from a camera that only costs $233. I’m buying one for surfing”). Google insight; this is just an example of content from real people using real products in real situations being be far more compelling than canned content from a marketing department/agency (NB, it’s also an example of ‘real’ viral media, as originally defined by Douglas Rushkoff – remarkable media with anxiogenic content). YouTube is a digital demo engine.

4. Google’s 3 tips on how to use these three trends – O2S, Mobile and Social – in social commerce and beyond

i) Measure the impact on your business – conduct a survey measuring these trends in your own customer base and experiment with mobile and social advertising

ii) Operationalise the trends – from simple things such as checking that people have 3G coverage in store, to making it easy bring the web to the aisle, and leveraging content across channels (e.g. UPC labels on product shelving (Best Buy), online reviews on in-store dispalys (Willams Sonoma), in store invitations to review online (Pet Smart), in store support online (Best Buy Twelpforce))

iii) Leverage the Eco-system – Multiply the value of your content by making it available beyond your organization – there is a big developer community that would be excited to use your data for shopping apps that connect you to your customers.  So open up your data through APIs and feeds

For example, Google is launching Google Product Reviews Program, partnering with retailers, manufacturers via product reviews platform providers (Bazaarvoice is the first) to surface user review and ratings in search, ads (review-enriched ads) and on Google product pages that include retailer branding/links) (see below for product description)

Google Product Reviews Program

Increase traffic and exposure through the Google Product Reviews Program

Archived from

If you already submit your product data to Google, you know it’s a great way to get free, qualified traffic through enhanced ad formats and Google Product Search. Now, through the Google Product Reviews Program, we’d like to help you leverage your high-quality user reviews and ratings to attract more customers, by surfacing this content wherever it’s relevant for shoppers on Google, including our search results and our advertising programs. On Google Product Search, for example, we’ll feature your logo alongside representative reviews from your site, increasing brand exposure for your web store at a key point in the conversion process.

Ready to participate? The first step is to work with your webmaster to make sure you’ve specified your canonical URLs for products in your web store. Next, if you’re a client of one of the reviews platform providers listed below, all you need to do is contact them and let them know you’d like to submit your user reviews to Google. If not, we’ll be adding more platforms soon, as well as a process for submitting reviews directly to Google. In the meantime, remember to specify canonical URLs for your website so you’ll be ready to participate.

    • Bazaarvoice enables the world’s largest brands to capture and amplify the voices of their customers to build sales, bringing word of mouth to ecommerce. Bazaarvoice enables consumers to share ratings, reviews, questions, answers, and stories about products and brands on client websites. Bazaarvoice helps clients maximize the strategic impact of user-generated review content through community management, search engine optimization, and syndication across the Web and through the channel.