What’s happened to Google Shopping?

Andrew Mugridge
Oct 04, 2017
Paid Media

Google Shopping will operate as a separate business, competing for the top SERPS, just like everybody else. We ask our PPC expert Andrew Mugridge what it means for search professionals, retailers and shoppers…..

What has Google done to Shopping?

On 27 September 2017, Google opened up its Google Shopping (Product Listing Ads) product to Comparison Shopping Services (CSS’s) allowing them to create and manage Shopping campaigns directly through AdWords and the Google Merchant Centre.

Before this change, Google shopping was only open to retailers who advertised through their own websites using a data feed of their own products.

Why did they do it?

Back In 2010, the European Commission started an investigation into Google after allegations of anti-competitiveness in their search algorithm. Fast forward 7 years, back in June this year Google were handed a hefty fine of 2.4bn euros ($2.7bn; £2.5bn) by the European Commission for abusing its dominance within the search engine market by building the online shopping service which we know today as Google Shopping.

As a result of this, on 27th September this year Google responded with possibly one of the biggest changes to come to Google Shopping for some time. Google’s parent company Alphabet has decided to split off their Shopping operations into a brand new business entity. This will means that from now on they will have to bid to be featured within their own platform with seemingly no preferential treatment, just like everyone else.

What do you make of the timing of this news?

It’s an interesting time to make such a big change, especially with the holiday season fast approaching – typically the busiest time of year for ecommerce businesses. And with this new change, it could bring in a lot more competition to the market, which could drive up overall costs for retailers advertising on the platform.

I’m not saying we should panic and increase budgets etc. but I do suggest monitoring campaigns closely over the coming weeks and months in the lead up to the holidays to see how this change really impacts your campaigns keeping a particular eye on the number of impressions that your products receive.

How does it affect EU retailers?

It’s too early to tell how this will directly affect EU retailers as such at this present time, apart from the potential increase in competition in the market which could lead CPC’s (cost per click) to increase exponentially.

If you don’t currently use Google Shopping but you are selling on the Consumer Shopping Service sites you should soon see the benefit of a brand new marketplace being opened to you.

I have Christmas presents to buy – how does it affect me?

Well if you love to shop around and find a cheap bargain, you could well be in for a treat. As Google introduce the CSS’s this will bring in more retailers to the market, who could well be offering the products you are searching for, even cheaper.

Do my search results look different?

They’re not changing much at all in terms of the look. In fact, you may not even notice a change at first glance. However, they are making a small change to the layout and will now include a badge at the bottom of the ads to help distinguish if the ad was from the classic PLA or an ad from a third-party site.

Does this open up any new opportunities for EU buyers or sellers?

In short, yes – with the introduction of the CSS’s to the Google Shopping realm, it will allow EU buyers to shop from more retailers who may not have been in the marketplace before.

What does this mean for EU search professionals?

Like every year, the busiest time for our ecommerce clients means a busy time for us search professionals as we help them stand out to customers. However, this year is going to be slightly different with a closer eye on the shopping campaigns to ensure that CPC’s and costs don’t rise too much, and that our clients ads are still getting seen on Google Shopping.

Does Google win or lose from this situation?

After looking at this update in some detail over the last couple of days, personally, I don’t see any clear winners with the Comparison Shopping Services (CSSs) or Google as it’s still early days. However, Google are not stupid and I’m sure they will have the last laugh.

Will this change for UK buyers and sellers on Google Shopping after Brexit?

This is an interesting question and one, if I’m honest, I’m not quite sure of the answer at this present time. As with anything to do with Brexit at the moment, it’s a pressing question – no one really knows what will happen come March 2019.

What’s next?

It’s going to be an interesting time in the lead up to the Holiday season to see how this change actually does affect the industry. We will be sure to update with any more findings we have in the near future as we monitor this closely over the coming months.

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This post was compiled by:

Andrew Mugridge is a PPC Account Manager at iThinkMedia. He specialises in the managing & optimising of our PPC accounts here at iTM. With 5+ years experience in the field, he’s worked with a large range of industries such as, fashion, hospitality, automotive and finance and more.

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