Google made an exciting announcement earlier this week, by updating how Google Shopping results are determined. Since 2012, Google Shopping has operated based on a paid ad auction model but will soon be transitioned to mostly free listings! This means that many slots that were previously paid ad results, will now be considered unpaid product results. Bill Ready, President of Commerce at Google, noted that the timing of this change is due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that it was a plan Google has had for a while. In a push to support struggling retailers + brands, this is a great opportunity for the housewares industry + a smart move by Google to make online shopping even easier as we’re all spending more time at home + online!
What is Google Shopping?
Happy you asked! Google Shopping has been around for years + has undergone a few rebrands in that time. You may have heard this functionality referred to as Google Product Search, Google Products, or even Froogle in the past! It’s a search feature on Google that lets searchers compare their shopping options in one place to easily check prices, product descriptions, inventory, taxes + shipping fees + more. It also allows advertisers + merchants the chance to feature their products in a very shoppable way!
Paid listings will continue to appear in ad slots + will operate per usual. Shopping listings on the main Google search results + at the top of the Shopping tab will remain paid listings. So, an advertising budget will ensure extra exposure for product-focused searches on Google.
What Can Google Shopping Do For Me?
Google’s Ready noted in a blog earlier this week, “For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings.” We’ve long used Google Shopping for our clients to drive ecommerce sales. This evolution of the platform will provide additional opportunities for current Google Shopping advertisers to transition some of their current paid exposure to free, unpaid exposure + give new users not currently on Google Shopping an opportunity to showcase their products to the masses without having to expand or tap into their current digital advertising budget. We do expect that those willing to pay to show their products on Google’s paid Shopping results will see significantly more exposure (+ sales!) from the Shopping platform.
This update is in response to COVID-19, but perhaps more notably – Google’s attempt to better compete against Amazon in product search. Note that this model is very similar to how Amazon product listings work (with a combination of organic + paid product results).
How Do I Get My Free Listings?
In order to be eligible for your products to appear in unpaid product results, you must submit a feed through Google Merchant Center + opt-in to surfaces across Google by selecting the corresponding program in Merchant Center. Note that this process hasn’t changed. The only difference is, you now don’t need to run a corresponding Gooogle Ads campaign in order for your products to get exposure. If you’ve already been using Merchant Center + Shopping ads, you don’ have to make any changes to take advantage of the free listings (but make sure you check our your Merchant Center account to see if you’ve opted in to have you listed appears on surfaces across Google…for free).
We’ve been watching the news on this change really closely here at epower at home + would recommend any brands that offer ecommerce shopping should get a product feed added to Google Merchant Center soon. It’s also something we’re happy to help with, just let us know if you need some help!
What’s My Next Step?
Let’s talk! If you’ve been running Google Shopping ads, we’re happy to take a look + make recommendations for improvements to make the most of your budget + available real estate. If this is all new to you, we’re happy to help as well! Just let us know a time that’s convenient for you + we’ll be in touch!