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Google brings free product listings to Shopping. Is Froogle back?

Google free products listings
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Today, Google has announced that it’s bringing free product listings into the Shopping tab. Google have said that this should help retailers during these difficult times to connect with consumers, especially if they couldn’t afford to do so via Google Shopping Ads. From next week, it means that most results in the Shopping tab will be free listings rather than just paid listings. We’ll explore exactly what this means for you. 

What’s updated to product listings in the Shopping tab?

  • From next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free product listings, regardless of whether you advertise on Google.
  • Paid ads will be augmented with free listings. 
  • For retailers, this means a much greater opportunity to target potential customers.
  • For consumers, it means a much greater exposure to different stores to choose from. 
  • There is also a new PayPal integration to help pull details faster and to verify trusted merchants. 
Google free product listings

Credit: Google The Keyword, 2020

Google’s announcement can be read in full here

What does this mean for you?

It’s only for the US for now, expanding globally soon

Google has said that they will be rolling this out globally before the end of the year. Realistically this will most likely before Q4 as Google don’t make changes around the Christmas/Black Friday period.

The Shopping tab will look fundamentally different

Paid listings will continue to appear in ad slots and “…will operate in the same way as Shopping Ads do today” (Google, The Keyword 2020). The layout is different though to what you see today, with the example provided showing Paid listings at the top of the page. I’d expect that this layout will continue to evolve throughout 2020. 

Remember, this is only on the Shopping Tab. This is not on Google Search. 

Google haven’t released any information about what percentage of users who click on Shopping, do so within the Shopping tab. The very fact this hasn’t been released implies that the percentage is relatively small. That being said, i’m sure this will continue to increase as Google makes it easier than ever to improve the path to purchase for consumers via Search. Advertisers should note though that only Paid Shopping Ads will be visible in the carousel via Google Search; where the majority of opportunity lies. 

Google Paid Shopping Ads

Paid Shopping Ads will continue to exclusively be displayed on Google Search

The new PayPal integration should make it a smoother experience to purchase

Merchants can link their accounts to PayPal which will allow Google to pull in the seller details much quicker for verified sellers. This will mean a much smoother experience to purchase for consumers. Reducing this friction with this partnership will open up much more opportunity for eligible advertisers. 

If you are a new retailer, Google are working to improve the processes for you

You currently do not require Google Ads to get onboard. However you’ll need a Merchant Centre account and during the process of creating and uploading your feed, you’ll need to opt-in for the surfaces across Google programme. You can find all of the information you need here.

If you are an existing Merchant Centre user, you’ll need to opt-in your existing feeds to the ‘Surfaces across Google’ programme

The steps for existing Merchant Centre users are relatively straightforward if you haven’t already opted into the surfaces programme. You can find everything you need to opt-in here.

This will impact your Paid Shopping Ad performance by making it more competitive & expensive. Winner for Google!

It’s difficult to know exactly how much more competitive it will get, but there is no doubt that you will see Google Shopping Ads become more expensive as the real-estate becomes squeezed on the Shopping tab. With less opportunity for Paid Shopping Ads to surface products, the limited space available will become more competitive than ever. 

Paid Shopping Ads will probably start to be adopted by a wider range of stores than before as the benefits of Shopping emerge for new retailers

Think about it, if the benefits of exposing products to new customers for new retailers via the free product listings come to fruition, retailers are going to want to invest more into surfacing their products ahead of competitors. Paid Shopping Ads is the perfect opportunity for this to happen which means that not only will Ads become more competitive for the limited ad slots, it will also become more competitive as the number of stores eligible to appear increases. 

Why is Google doing this?

Yes, this is a great option for retailers who are struggling through these unprecedented times. But who is going to benefit the most? Yup, you guessed it. 

Froogle isn’t quite back, Google still needs to make money. As we argued above, Google is no doubt going to benefit from this update the most in the longer term. The increased competitiveness of Paid Shopping Ads will be great for Google. This will increase the spend from advertisers, as well as force them to adopt more of its technologies to try and get ahead of the competition. 

By having a mixture of free and Paid Product Listings, along with better integrations with PayPal, Google is continuing to compete with Amazon

Obviously Amazon has continued to eat up Google’s market share in this space. Introducing this update will mean that they can continue to fight back and have an interface that is more closely aligned to Amazon. By teaming up with PayPal (it already partners with other e-commerce platforms), it’s now easier than ever for shoppers to have a smooth experience with both Google and retailers. Reducing this friction will ensure that users keep coming back for more. 

Dan Roberts
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