Sundown for Google Shopping Free Listings

Posted: Wednesday 19th June 2013 in Paid Media, Thought Leadership.

Sun sets on free google shopping listings

Written by Adam Chard
Shopping Comparison Manager

This month, the last of Google’s Free Product Listings moseyed on out of town, to be fully replaced by Product Listing Ads (PLAs).  The days of free Shopping Comparison traffic are now behind us.  For those that have chosen not to launch PLAs or simply cannot afford it, a vital traffic source has now left for good.

So what have we seen happen since the new commercial Google Shopping was launched in the UK? Here are the top 5 changes you should be aware of:

1. The rise and fall of CPCs

As anticipated Cost per Click for PLAs initially shot up in the weeks after 13 February, when the migration to a fully paid model began.  We have seen this drop over time as retailers optimise bids down.  The average CPC for clients at Summit has now returned to around 17p, compared to 24p at its peak.

2. Improved Click Through Rate

At Summit we have seen Click Through Rates for PLAs gradually increase for our clients, starting out at an average of 2.65% in early February and creeping up to over 3% in late May.  This shows that more relevant ads are being served for related product searches.  Optimisation both through bidding, targeting and use of negative keywords have all contributed to this improvement.

3. Marketplaces still paying to advertise?

Unlike in US, where Amazon pulled out of the new commercial Google Shopping, in the UK we have still seen PLA units dominated by both Amazon and eBay.  My prediction at the start of the year is that Amazon would pull out. Whether this happens now that all listings are fully paid is yet to be seen.  

4. Shopping Page format unchanged

Whilst the major changes have taken place on the Google Web Search page, with the old “free” shopping search results removed, to be replaced by PLA Units, the Google Shopping Page itself remains relatively untouched.  There is still a mish-mash of comparison links, amongst stand-alone retailer links, mixed in with Google Places results.   I would expect this to be the next area to receive cosmetic treatment from Google.

5. PLAs on Mobile

From March, for the first time, PLAs were made available on Smartphones, recognising the importance of Shopping Comparison on the go.  Mobile strategy and the clarity of your product images are now more important than ever.

What should you do next?

  • If you still want your Products live on Google Shopping, then you now have no other choice than to sign up for PLAs.
  • Retailers need to start spending more time managing and optimising product feeds.  
  • Improving your data will lead to better relevancy and in turn will lower your CPCs.
  • Consider how your Marketplace Strategy fits with your Google Shopping strategy.  Are you paying twice for PLAs to appear?

If you are a retailer looking to get a competitive advantage through Shopping Comparison channels, contact Summit today.