Google announced on the 31st May that Google Shopping will no longer be a free product. This is a big move by Google and the first time they’ve turned a free search product into a paid product. This is due to start transitioning over in the US over the next few months but probably won’t hit UK shores till next year. With the exception of Amazon, Google Shopping is the biggest shopping engine out there meaning that those who invest in shopping engines may need to double their budgets.
The model is very similar to other shopping engines and will be charged on an auction model and CPC basis. The biggest difference will be the integration of Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Up to now that has been in beta but it would sync up with your shopping feeds and pull in relevant products into a Google Search. What this will do is bring Product Listing Ads to the forefront of search and pushing universal PPC even more. This will mean the sponsored search listings may see more ads, more images and will probably cannibalise more clicks over SEO.
Some retailers have said that the move is a good thing thing and will allow more control but I question whether they are really happy about having to pay for a previously free product. There may be more control in Google Shopping but PLAs have always been a bit of a black box. Google will determine the keywords and the products being served. Conversion rates have been touted as being higher but with image/price/comparison it’s not really a surprise.
I’d expect smaller retailers who capitalised on a free shopping engine to be affected the most. They either will have to start increasing media spend or even start investing in AdWords if they previously weren’t. Google Shopping could be a bad experience for the consumer too as what was a fair price comparison tool could turn to highest bid wins or only those who can afford it.
Advertisers could have their hands forced into signing up or missing out. Consumers will most likely not notice the change. Either way it’s win-win for Google and some extra bit of cash for them.
- Google to change product search to paid Google Shopping system (stateofsearch.com)
- Building a better shopping experience (adwords.blogspot.com)