Since mid February, Google have been phasing out the free ad listings in their shopping search results. This major change marks a shift to a product listing advertising platform linked with Google AdWords.
It’s predicted that by the end of this summer, all shopping results will be paid for by advertisers. Google say this will improve the experience and make it easier for searchers, as well as helping merchants convert the right audience. But is that really the case?
What Does This Mean for Advertisers?
Advertisers can continue to be listed within Google’s main results as normal, but those wanting to appear within a specially designed shopping search engine and the image boxes which appear above the regular results will need to pay.
Companies who wish to be part of the new Google Shopping platform will need to begin creating PLAs (Product Listing Ads). Slightly different to the traditional AdWords text ads, advertisers are required to upload their own product feed via the new ‘Google Merchant Centre’ and link this to their AdWords account.
Rather than bidding on particular keywords, businesses will need to bid on how much they’re willing to pay if their listings receive clicks and sales. Ranking highly within these specialised results will depend on both relevance and your bid price.
However, for many businesses, buying the clicks they once received through organic search is simply unaffordable. The change has already led to high search traffic losses for numerous companies who are desperately looking for alternatives to forking out yet more money to Google.
Previously, small businesses could compete with larger companies through simply having relevant products and positive customer reviews. But the new system favours larger businesses with high advertising budgets. Therefore, many merchants are turning to other tactics like social media and video marketing to engage audiences, increase brand awareness and draw traffic to their site.
As surprising as it may sound, Google were once against these paid shopping platforms, which were commonly used by other search engines. But they’re now claiming that by having paid relationships with companies, they can ensure a higher level of quality and relevancy within shopping results.
Back when Google was an up-and-coming search engine, one of its USPs was to fight against paid inclusion models. Once known as ‘Froogle’, Google’s first shopping platform automatically included merchants within its index. When launched, other search engine’s paid shopping programmes soon began to drop, with Yahoo the last competitor to remove theirs back in 2009.
Several years later, it seems Google need paid inclusion to gain the relevant data. But with e-commerce sites having to pay the price, it seems likely that many marketers will turn to the power of social media.
As a Google AdWords Certified Partner we have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in managing online advertising campaigns in PPC, SEO and social media. Let us help you make the most of your digital marketing investment. Contact our friendly team today for more information and a no obligation review of your campaigns.