Back in May 2012, Google announced the transition of its free product search service to a paid model where advertisers will be charged to display Google Shopping listings.
Well here we are 9 months later and though your trusted old data feed and products may be active, there isn’t long left before you will be dependent on a Product Listing Ads (PLA) campaign if you want to maintain visibility in this channel.
How it works
Products will no longer be displayed simply according to the relevance of your search query, but by the quality of the data provided AND your bid price.
Your campaign can be built directly from Merchant Center or AdWords and it will be essential for retailers to provide detailed and accurate product data alongside a well optimised PLA campaign.
Where the previous model required retailers to submit a feed and then sit back and enjoy the free traffic, paid product listings require a greater degree of management and optimisation to be effective.
For many retailers and especially smaller merchants it may be wise to consider employing the services of online marketing experts who can ensure that your product data feed is accurate, refreshed and approved by Google.
What are the benefits?
Cost and time are the obvious drawbacks of these changes, however the new model gives retailers far greater control over the product ads they want to display and – though cynics may suggest this is just another way for Google to line their already bulging pockets – we can expect to see an overall improvement in the quality of content served in this channel.
Google will continue to experiment with the layout of shopping results, but bigger images, prime positions and sponsored listing messaging will all help increase the quality traffic driven from your paid listings.
This is a radical change that will affect all online retailers, but switching to a commercial service should be viewed as the perfect opportunity to ensure that your product offering is up to scratch and part of a cost effective online marketing strategy.