Posted: Monday 12th October 2020 in News, Paid Media, Paid Search.

What is Surfaces Across Google?

In April 2020, Google launched a new feature in the US bringing free product listings to the Google Shopping tab. This would be complementary to existing paid activity which will still have a designated space to serve on the Shopping tab and will remain unchanged on the main results page. As part of the announcement, Google said “the Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping retailers to connect with more customers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. Shoppers will be able to find more products from more stores, just in time for peak shopping season across the region.”

Google have announced that this is due to launch mid-October 2020, across Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Although a final date is still to be confirmed we should expect this to be a soft launch from Google throughout this month. By default, Google Merchant Centre accounts created before May 2020 will have their feeds automatically opted in, providing they meet the criteria for enhanced listings. Accounts created after this date will need to be opted into the program which can be done directly from the Merchant Centre. If you have multiple CSS partners associated with your domain, you can select which partner you want to participate in ‘Surfaces Across Google’ with from the CSS Dashboard within your Merchant Centre.

How will I know how my free listings are performing?

Clicks are reported if they lead to a customer visiting your website in the same way you would expect from a paid product listing or an organic result. You can also track these free clicks in the same way using third-party analytics tools such as Google Analytics (GA).

Paid product listings will continue to be segmented by the ‘google/cpc’ medium in GA and traffic from Surfaces Across Google will be shown as ‘Google unpaid traffic’ tracked as ‘google/organic’. For more information on setting up tracking parameters and troubleshooting, visit the dedicated Google support page here. You will also be able to view clicks for the previous 30-days directly within the Merchant Centre.

What kind of performance can we expect from this change?

As with many new product launches there is little to no data available to us currently. However, following feedback from several of our US retailers, we could expect to see up to a 6% increase in organic clicks post-launch. This will depend heavily on the quality of your product feed and the competition within your retail vertical.

Google advised “in the U.S., where we launched successfully earlier this year, retailers running free listings and ads got an average of twice as many views and 50 percent more visits. Small and medium-sized businesses saw the biggest increases since the free listings launched there.”

The biggest winners will be smaller businesses not currently advertising through Google Shopping due to several barriers to entry, mainly high costs. Surfaces Across Google will allow smaller businesses to advertise their products for free to millions of potential customers.

What does this mean for the future of Google Shopping?

According to a data from the CivicScience survey, reported by emarketer.com, nearly half (49%) of US internet users start their product searches directly on Amazon compared with 22% who did so on Google. This move should help small and medium sized business promote their products across Google Shopping, increasing choice and relevancy for users in a way that Amazon currently do.

It remains to be seen whether Google will take further steps to open more of their results pages to free listings. Earlier this year, they announced deals with both Shopify and Paypal which allows retailers (in the US) to import their Amazon product feeds directly into the Google Merchant Centre. The connection with PayPal, whose deal with eBay recently expired could eventually mean that users can purchase from the Google results page without visiting a retailers website, thus turning Google into a more competitive marketplace directly rivalling Amazon’s increasing dominance within this space.

For more information on how Summit and Productcaster can help you setup Surfaces Across Google or if you have any questions around our wider Marketing Services, get in touch with the team at [email protected]