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Google Shopping Moves to A Paid Only Service

Google users have all seen the toolbar on the top of Google’s home page that links to the ever widening range of services they offer. One of these services, Google Shopping, has been a useful free marketing platform for retailers since it morphed out of the old Google Product Search over a year ago. Since then, main retail website engines like Magento have become integrated with the site, making listing your products on Google Shopping a very simple process. Many retailers have come to rely on the site for a healthy slice of their online sales, so it has come as a shock to many that Google is moving to a paid-only advertising model for the platform.

With figures showing that 58% of consumers search for products online1, it is very likely that the first place that most customers will see a product is on Google. Therefore, having a presence in their marketplace is very important to many retailers. Google Shopping has had a very high engagement rate from businesses, so it seemed inevitable that they would eventually monetize the service to leverage the huge advertising revenue that it has the potential to produce. On the surface this would seem likely to put many of Google Shopping’s business users offside, but in fact this hasn’t been the case. In most instances, business has welcomed having greater control over their advertising on the Google Shopping site as a result of their paid subscription. Many marketers believe that being able to tweak their advertisements on the site will make them more competitive2. It is only the smaller retailers and online stores that will now have to compete financially to keep the placement of their ads from suffering.

Google is currently experimenting with mixing Google Shopping results into their SERPs to give an organic impression to the results. This has begun to cause worries that Google will use paid listings to replace free listings in other areas of their services as well but Google are saying that these developments will produce a better service overall for users that use search for researching their purchases3. Continuing their drive to greater integration Google allows merchants to connect these listings to their AdWords campaigns so that they get preferential placement in the SERPs making the search engine a more effective, and therefore more profitable, marketing tool.

Over half of consumers have made a purchase online. With the main source of traffic to online retailers coming from search engines, Google Shopping is an effective marketing platform that is also a reliable resource for consumers. Paid listings will probably restrict some products, but overall it will continue to be a worthwhile advertising medium for a lot of businesses. The real test of Google Shopping for many retailers will be the cost that comes with the change in Google’s business model for the site. In some competitive niches, smaller retailers with smaller marketing budgets are sure to be edged out by their big competitors. Even so, for savvy marketers who get their Google Shopping ads configured right, the ROI could improve as the site offers a more professional advertising platform.

Retailers that get their wares onto Google Shopping before the paid advertising deadline hits on August 15 will be given a 10% credit for their product listing ads and $100 of free AdWords advertising credits to soften the blow of losing the free service. Talk to now to take advantage of Google Shopping and their free advertising offers to kick off your listings on the site.

1. 2011 Chadwick Martin Bailey Consumer Pulse



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