Recently Google announced a major change in the shopping results channel or shopping feed. Google Shopping is typically seen in about the 3rd position on the search engine results page (SERP).
This system allows browsers to quickly go in and shop by price comparison between various retailers. It is extremely popular and drives a great deal of sales for thousands if not millions of retailers. Google has a fairly strict procedure on how to get listed in results that includes submitting products and all sorts of data including shipping, UPC number, etc. Many retailers rely on this shopping area as their bread and butter and most consumers love it. In fact you could say that many use this feature exclusively when searching for commodity type of items such as shampoo, books, etc. Google has added a few features such as allowing product or merchant reviews to show, to help protect the buyer and make a choice based on issues other than price, but price is the main driver.
It all sounds good for everyone so far right? Well guess what happens when something free gets really popular? The free goes away. Google has announced that they are going to change the Google Shopping results from what they are now into a form of Product Listing Ads (PLAs). We at AWG currently work with PLAs and they are a form of Pay Per Click (PPC). You bid against other retailers and basically the highest bidder shows up in the first position. It is an advertising platform that is designed to allow retailers to advertise to Google users. Google Shopping is a service that is designed around consumers.The big shift is a service that was made for consumers is now going to be made for retailers. I guess Google needs to prime the pump some more?
For us as an agency this is good news. It means that businesses which now use Google Shopping results as method to drive sales now needs an agency that understands PLAs and PPC. For consumers it is bad news as the ability to shop by price will likely get watered down.
I think Google is being a bit short sighted. They could have made plenty of money and let the consumer shop the way they like to shop currently. Why not charge a monthly fee for retailers to be listed in Google Shopping? I do not think consumers will like this move and I think it could be a very nice boost to Bing who provides similar shopping feature. Remember MySpace and AOL. Didn’t take long for them to alienate people. The change is set to roll out later this summer and into the fall. They have not given all the details on it, but let’s face it; if a retailer can pay to be in the best spot then the deep pockets will eventually rule the location.