The death of free Google Shopping?

Posted: Thursday 22nd September 2011 in Paid Media, Thought Leadership.
Google Product Search in the US resembles a shopping portal

A few recent changes are leading me to wonder if Google is finally going to start charging retailers to advertise on its product search platform.

Firstly, after much shifting around over the past couple of years, the ‘shopping’ link now appears to be permanently hiding behind the ‘more’ button on Google’s homepage. Is this to drive more users to paid-for results on Google search? Or was this a strategy whilst they made some fundamental changes behind the scenes?

Across in the States, one big change has happened: Google Shopping (or Product Search as it’s now called) resembles a shopping portal (take a look). This revamp puts Google on par, or ahead of, the look and feel of most of the paid-for comparison sites – perhaps the only thing that previously gave those sites any kind of edge.

Along with this, the beta of Product Listing Ads has just launched in the UK, meaning that retailers are now effectively paying for Google Shopping listings that appear within normal search results pages. Perhaps further integration between the two is not far away?

Many clients drive a large amount of revenue via Google Shopping and if the search giant were to move to a featured products option, then a healthy bidding war could quickly erupt amongst retailers.

However, I do fear a backlash if they push to get revenue for all traffic the platform drives.

If this does happen, Summit’s clients will be in a strong position. Our SummitFEED technology means we have the ability to optimise feeds, down to a product level, based on real-time conversion data. This would only normally be available by having to add a tag for each partner in your site, and even then the performance can only be based on last click rather than retailer’s unique attribution metrics.

We’ll look out for further signs of a move towards paid-for Google Shopping listings over the coming months.