On May 31st, Google announced changes to its shopping experience. By October 1st, the free Google Product Search and the paid Product Listing Ads (PLAs) will transition to a new paid model. The new experience is called “Google Shopping.”
What’s the difference? Most significantly, Google Product Search was free. Brands could submit products (with photos, prices, inventory, etc.) in the form of a product data feed; those products would then appear on Google Product Search and in the Google.com organic results.
Product Listings Ads—which are also being replaced by Google Shopping—are paid. They’re richer than traditional paid search ads, as they contain images and product price. Advertisers were charged on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-action (CPA) (the advertiser pays a percentage of the value of the purchases made after clicking through to the product page) basis.
Here is an example of (the soon to be old) Google search results page for the term “fishing vests.” The search generates results in both the free Google Product Search program (bottom left) and the paid Product Listing Ads program (upper right):
Google’s new experience, Google Shopping, will replace Product Search and Product Listing Ads. On Google.com, Google Shopping will look like this:
Key Differences between the Old Formats and Google Shopping
Why the Change?
Google noted, “We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality data—whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability—should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.” Additionally, Eric Best, CEO of Mercent, told The Wall Street Journal that Google could realize $1 billion in incremental annual revenue from the change.
Advertiser Requirements (Timeline)
Our Optimization Strategy
At Performics, we’ve monetized both the free Google Product Search listings and the paid Product Listing Ads for our clients. For our retailers, both listing types have been an important traffic source with strong conversion rates. Recently, Google began requiring more detailed product feeds for Google Product Search listings. For our clients, more detailed feeds increased relevancy. Greater relevancy led to a decrease in traffic from Google Product Search, but an increase in conversions.
The new Google Shopping experience—which incorporates more product details—will further promote relevancy, which should lead to even greater conversion rates for our clients. The fact that Google Shopping ads will clearly be labeled as “ads” will also foster relevancy. Furthermore, advertisers can now include offers, which will help drive sales (especially during holiday when searchers seek deals).
Google Shopping, as a product, falls somewhere between paid search, data feed optimization and SEO. All these strategies will likely determine where the ads rank. At Performics, we’ll utilize our experience in all these channels to optimize Google Shopping ads.
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