For years, Google has allowed small businesses to submit their product information to Google’s “Shopping” section at no charge. The free listing model, as well as the “Google Product Search” program is being transitioned to a paid commercial model starting now and continuing through October.
Google’s announcement on May 31st including the following key points:
- Google will be replacing its free listings with Google Product Listing Ads over the next few months, with a complete transition by October.
- For many merchants, Google Product Search has always been a solid source of free online advertising. Google Product Listing Ads are more of a traditional Comparison Shopping Engine (CES) model, akin to Shopzilla, Shopping.com and others.
What does this mean to you?
The most obvious impact is going to be the additional cost going forward as opposed to the old free listing model. Google Product Listing Ads are a Cost-Per-Click model. If you are unfamiliar with the Cost- Per-Click model, it works this way. As a merchant, you can bid on a product, and then you will be charged a fee when a shopper clicks on the ad. Google recently said that they will allow merchants to apply for a Cost-Per-Action submission too. The Cost-Per-Action model charges you the fee when an order is placed as a result of your listing.
One positive impact of the new pricing model is that bidding should allow you to have greater control of where you will fall within Google Shopping. In addition, Google has stated that both relevance and bids will influence the results in the new Google Shopping channel. For more established merchants, the changes could be a great opportunity to maximize qualified traffic.
For smaller eCommerce merchants there will be a new marketing opportunity. While the free submissions were a great early strategy for start-ups, the engine itself has become saturated with products. By allowing merchants to bid on Product Listings, the playing field is leveled. Bidding provides new merchants to get placement faster while they build relevance.
Below are a few suggestions on how to prepare for the Google changes.
1. Sign up for Google Product Listing Ads now.
Google is offering a promotion between now and August 15th to register now for Google Product Listing Ads. The offer is 10% off your monthly spend through the end of 2012. Whether or not you plan on using Product Listing Ads, it’s best to sign up and lock in the savings just in case. You can get started here.
2. Test some Google Product Listing Ads now.
You will want to familiarize yourself as soon as you can with PLA to prepare for October. Some limited testing now will offset the decline in results from Google Product Search. Think about starting with your most profitable products first on a limited basis.
3. If you are submitting to Google Product Search, continue to do so.
As Google begins experimenting with the new user interface in June results will be effected. However, there is no need to stop using Google Product Search until the final transitions occur in October.
4. Consider a qualified agency to manage your Comparison Shopping Engine initiatives.
Now, more than ever, CSE advertising is going to require business owners to spend more time understanding the details of how product and search engines will work going forward. A small business owner will really need to develop an understanding of how to create a new product listing strategy that is specific to your industry, budget and business goals.
Our Solid Cactus team has experts ready to manage your online marketing strategy through this transition period.