2014 was an exciting year for the shopping channel. Google shopping began to take over the lion’s share of both media spend budgets and Google SERP real estate. Bing Product Ads launched in the US, and comparison shopping engines developed their propositions and expanded their networks in order to challenge Google dominance. We expect 2015 to be another key year for shopping. These are our top predictions for the next 12 months.
1. Bing Product Ads to finally launch in the UK
At the beginning of 2014, we predicted that Bing would launch their product ads offering in the US and UK. We were half right with Bing Ads Product Ads (BPAs) launching in the US around April last year. We expected the UK to follow suit before the close of the year, however, this didn’t materialise. Once again we expect BPAs to launch in the UK in 2015, somewhere in the second half of the year.
This will provide retailers with a viable large scale alternative to Google shopping. Early adopters should see efficient ROAs, especially those who dedicate sufficient time and effort into mastering the platform and its idiosyncrasies. Competition will be less to begin with, but retailers will soon cotton on.
As is always the case with Bing in the UK, volume is expected to be much smaller than that of its Google counterpart.
2. Comparison shopping networks to play an increasingly important part of retailers’ marketing mix
18 months ago, comparison shopping engines (CSEs) could be said to be on the decline; outdated propositions, limited scope, high cost per click (CPC) and average returns meant retailers were shying away from utilising comparison shopping partners to serve their product inventories. As Google entered and subsequently dominated the UK cost per click product search market, CSE partners have had to react to market conditions and tweak their propositions to ensure they didn’t get left behind.
Improvements in account management and user interfaces followed, as well as shopping network developments, with revised bidding options and improved CPC rates. SKU level bidding is also now available for some partners, providing complete control over your product bidding strategy.
CSEs now look a much sounder option than they have in the not so distant past, especially as retailers look for new ways to increase reach and coverage as Google shopping matures and becomes increasingly competitive and expensive. Reach is of course not on the same scale as with Google, however low CPCs and strong conversion rates should see CSE utilisation become viewed as a sound, effective investment.
3. Introduction of a Google marketplace
We predicted that in 2014 a Google marketplace would materialise, in a move that would see Google position themselves as a direct competitor for Amazon. This didn’t come to fruition during the last 12 months, however recent posturing has suggested this may be a possibility for 2015, at least in the US if not the UK. Suggestions of adding a buy button to shopping results has been mooted which fuels the fire that this, probably in the form of alpha/beta tests, may be in Google’s roadmap for the year.
Resistance from retailers due to lack of customer ownership, an inability to upsell and a lack of control, particularly amongst retailers with strong on site conversion funnels, may mean Google ultimately shelf the idea.
Stay tuned to our blog over 2015 to find out about big industry developments as they happen, and check in with us this time next year to find out what changes we have witnessed in the shopping channel and what we hope to see in 2016 and beyond. If you have any questions or would like to know about how we can help you make more money online please contact Dave Trolle on (01482) 876876.