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Google’s new generative AI tool can jazz up product images

Aug 25, 2023

By Jess Weatherbed, a news writer focused on creative industries, computing, and internet culture. Jess started her career at TechRadar, covering news and hardware reviews.

Google is launching Product Studio, a new tool that allows Google Shopping merchants to quickly edit and customize their product images for free using generative AI. Announced at the Google Marketing Live event on Tuesday, Product Studio is rolling out to US-based sellers in "the next few months" and will be hosted by Merchant Center Next, the company's redesigned platform for uploading and advertising products through Google Shopping.

Product Studio was designed to help sellers diversify product and lifestyle images used on e-commerce listings — something that can help them stand out against competing products but can be time-consuming to create or require expensive photography. According to Google's own data, product listings with more than one image typically see a 76 percent increase in impressions and a 32 percent increase in clicks compared to listings with a single image.

Text prompts can be used within Product Studio to quickly make visual adjustments to product images, such as generating a selection of new backgrounds for seasonal campaigns. Product Studio also allows sellers to instantly remove the existing background of an image if they need a blank backdrop, and increase the quality of small or low-resolution images.

Earlier this month, CNBC reported that Google was planning to use its new PaLM 2 AI language model to help companies create ads. Google hasn't disclosed which AI model Product Studio is built on so it isn't clear if this new announcement is part of those efforts. In a statement to The Verge, Google spokesperson Molly Shaheen says it's built with "one of Google's text-to-image models."

Google says that Product Studio was created for businesses of all sizes, though it's arguably going to be of more use to independent sellers and small businesses that don't have the budget to splash on elaborate photoshoots. That isn't to say that Product Studio won't appeal to larger companies that can afford to spend more on marketing materials though, which could add more fuel to fears that generative AI will be used to replace creative professionals.

Product Studio isn't a unique concept — several desktop and mobile applications have already launched tools that also use generative AI to personalize product shots, such as PhotoRoom's Instant Backgrounds. Meta is also testing similar generative AI tools for advertisers within its recently announced AI Sandbox, and many graphic design applications like Canva and Adobe Express have released AI-powered features for removing backgrounds and generating objects. What Product Studio provides is convenience — if you’re already using Google's Merchant Center, then you can spice up your images without jumping between platforms.

Google says merchants using the Google & YouTube app on Shopify will also have access to Product Studio features. The search giant is currently rolling out its simplified Merchant Center Next platform (which will eventually replace Merchant Center) to new users and will start upgrading smaller businesses "over the coming months." Google will notify merchants when the new experience is available and plans to complete the global rollout sometime in 2024.

Update May 23rd, 2:33PM ET: Updated to include a response from a Google spokesperson.

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Update May 23rd, 2:33PM ET: