Google has recently announced that from Fall 2012 businesses will need to pay the search giant to have their products included in Google Shopping (originally known as Froogle). Since first launching the service it has been completely free and relatively easy for businesses to add their products, allowing the “small guys” to compete on a level playing field based on price, customer reviews and delivery costs.
More recently, Google introduced PPC ‘product ads’ as a way for advertisers to achieve better click-through rates and greater visibility. The move also allowed Google to earn money on the search results and provide searchers with the ability to find the item they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible.
Google shopping are changing the way it works to be overtly ‘sponsored’ as opposed to the free model which caused them problems with anti-trust laws.
In the end, Google is shifting to what’s been the industry standard when it comes to shopping search, to have a paid inclusion program. The curious can take a look here at SingleFeed for a rundown on who offers paid plans. Most shopping search engines do. Even Bing, which is listed as being free, also does paid inclusion through a partnership with Shopping.com, saying that doing this will increase visibility.
For searchers, Google’s trying to find the balance between having incredibly comprehensive results and the noise that can harm relevancy when there’s too much junk and not enough signal, it seems. As I said, it remains to see if they’ll get that balance right.
…will Google eventually decide that Google Shopping should make the next logical step and provide transactions, the way that Amazon does? At some point, Google the search engine that is supposed to point to destinations may turn into too much of a destination itself.
Golden Opportunity or Dead-End for e-commerce?
No doubt when the switchover happens there will be winners and losers, the trick is ensuring that you are among the first to adapt when competition is likely to be down as the majority of website owners and managers scramble to react to the changes you have already prepared for.
If you do decide to get on board the advertising train in this fashion then analysis and tracking will be key for you and making sure Google shopping pulls its weight compared to the rest of the mix will be more important than ever.
Keep an eye on the blog for further updates from myself and the rest of the Online Marketing team here at Optix Solutions. Have a question? Get in touch. We are here to help.