Changes to Google Shopping

If you use Google Shopping (sometimes called Google Products) to promote your web shop then you may have recently received an email from Google announcing significant changes to the Google Shopping platform.  These changes will have an impact on the traffic you currently receive so you need to act.

What is Google Shopping (Products)?

Google Shopping Results have been around for some years and have been a very helpful tool for web shop owners wishing to rank well on the search engine.

The picture below helps us understand the difference between the well established Google Shopping Results and the newer Product Listing Ads.

Google Shopping is a free service that is normally produced from a product feed from your web shop.  Google Product listing Ads is a more recent paid (Cost per Click) format that works by combining your Google Merchant Centre  and AdWords accounts.  The display of the Product Listing Ads is not based on keywords (like AdWords) but on the information from your Google Merchant Centre account.

What will change?

While your current free product feed will continue to appear on Google Shopping for several months, from February 13th 2013, the results will show a mix of paid and free listings, with the full switch to paid only listings taking place in June, when there will be no products being fed to Google Shopping for free.  The end of a lucrative era.

How will it affect me?

In summary all of the free traffic that you currently receive through the shopping results will stop, and only continue if it is sponsored via the paid Product Listing Ads (PLA).

Is there any good news?

This will give rise to additional cost, but if PLA campaigns are managed well, they can generate cost-effective sales.

An advantage of the new Product Listing Ads (PLAs) is there is greater control and scope to build and manage successful campaigns.  But the down side is the percentage of sales you have to pay for will increase so you will need to feed only products against which you can achieve ROI.

Personally, I’m often frustrated by clicking on Google Shopping listings in the UK that lead to products that no longer exist, are out of stock or are now twice as expensive as promised in the listings.  It’s a poor user experience and there is little incentive for merchants to keep their listings up to date when every click is free!  The change to a commercial model should encourage advertisers to keep their product feeds accurate and up to date, knowing that they will waste money if they don’t.  In this respect, it should be a positive change for users.

What should I do?

To list your products on Google Shopping, you will need to create Product Listing Ads based on your existing product feed from the Google Merchant Centre and  manage these ads with your AdWords account.  You then need to consider if you want adverts for all or just some of your products.  Maximising the ROI will be achieved by carefully optimising each product or group of products.

If you need any assistance with this quite significant change, please contact me and I will be pleased to help.

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Karen King
I have been working in website promotion for the last 15 years and am now a Website Marketer at web2market. I am a qualified Google Adwords professional and can help advise on getting the most out of your digital campaigns. My experience includes both sponsored and unsponsored website marketing, Google Maps and link building.