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Google Shopping: Compare Prices Extension

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Today at PPC hubbub, we have seen Google test a new extension on their Product Listing Ads (Google Shopping) on Mobile. We have previously highlighted the fact that Google will increase the amount of testing this year via Product Listing Ads (see Google Shopping 2016 Roadmap), and this is the latest feature we have seen on Mobile.

What’s is the new Google Shopping Compare Prices Extension?

We found these ad formats on most search queries today, but they only appear when you interact with the Product Listing Ad carousel in the Google SERP.

By now you’ll be used to seeing the below Google SERP…

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping - Compare Priced Extension

Google doubled the size of the product listing ad on Mobile midway through Q4 in 2015. This helped dramatically drive further engagement for the Google product and accelerated the growth of Paid Search and PLAs on Mobile (pssst! Look out for our Blog on about the growth of Mobile. Out Soon). You’ll see there are no organic listings on the initial results page in the Retail market (and most others too).

When you go to swipe across the product offering available for the search query through the carousel, Google then expands the size of the ad by around 25% and then offers you the option to ‘Compare prices’. This is shown on each product listing ad…

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping - Compare Priced Extension

PPC hubbub has seen Google test both Expandable and Carousel product listing ad formats recently on Desktop (see our Google Shopping: 2016 Roadmap article). This is another feature to add to the list for Mobile.

Why are Google doing this?

Two things stand out here…

  1. Google are attempting to keep users on Google (rather than go to any other store or app) via Mobile
  2. This increases the chance of getting more users to click on the product listing ads

There is no doubt that Google have been scared by the growth of Facebook and Amazon etc on Mobile, which is why they are investing so much in it. I have asked Google on numerous times to disclose statistics around roughly how many users actually click on the Shopping Tab to engage with a Product Listing Ad vs only the Google SERP. In essence, I’ve been asking for an answer to the question; as a percentage, how many users use the Shopping interface?

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping Tab vs SERP

But of course, they haven’t been able to disclose. I think that it’s probably quite obvious that most use the Google SERP alone to browse products. I wouldn’t be surprised if some users even know that that the Shopping Tab exists, allowing them to access more products!

Of course, Google has made efforts on Mobile to point users to this direction by using a ‘View All’ option at the end of the carousel…

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping View All

But this now gives users 2 ways to get to the Shopping interface, rather than just one. So this extension is a particularly good way to drive traffic to the Shopping Tab. It keeps users on Google which means that they are more likely to buy through Google rather than go to Amazon or a comparison shopping site.

Hey Google! Here are some user experience suggestions

Hey Google! If you are reading this (I know you are, your eyes are everywhere!) then here’s an annoyance that I had with the user experience. Why have ‘compare prices’ as an extension on each product if I can’t actually compare the price for that specific product?

Here’s an example…

I’ve searched for ‘kettles’ on Google. I’m given the below results. I interact with the product listing ad carousel and the ‘Compare Prices’ extension appears. I see that the ‘Russell Hobbs 21400’ kettle looks like it would go nicely next to my Toaster, but I want the cheapest price for this product. I click on Compare Prices, expecting to compare the prices for this product alone.

But I don’t, I get the below results instead…

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping Results

Come on Google! You know better than to do that! Instead of showing me the prices for the Russell Hobbs 21400 kettle I was interested in, I get prices for other kettles. If I’ve shown intent on this product, it’s in everyone’s interest (user, retailer, Google) to give me the most relevant result. But I don’t get it in this case.

I completely understand that this could be because of the initial search query is ‘kettles’, which is pretty generic. It’s broad and doesn’t really provide much specifics as to what I am after. With this search query I could just be browsing, in which case the results in the Google Shopping interface provided would be relevant. But the extension that I clicked on here implies that I can compare prices on that specific Russell Hobbs product.

Of course, the clever clogs reader will point out that I could simply search for Russell Hobbs 21400 and get more accurate results from Google. But we have to assume that I am lazy and we need to make it as simple as possible to purchase. This increases revenue for the retailer, which potentially means more investment by the retailer on PLA’s; giving Google more money to put in their offshore bank accounts to avoid tax on 🙂

PPC hubbub - Google Shopping

If this ad format does become a permanent feature, I am sure that the GTIN changes in May will only help enhance the user experience here. By having this GTIN information across all merchants on branded products, Google can make smarter decisions which means smarter results for both user and retailer. This can allow Google to actually compare the prices on the product I have shown interest in, rather than any other brand and product.

What does this mean for you?

More qualified traffic

The ad format could lead to more beneficial traffic being driven for advertisers. If you think about it, with the size and presence of PLAs now on Mobile, surely this ad format helps to minimise wasted clicks. If this extension becomes the norm, then you’ll know that the user hasn’t just accidentally pressed on the ad as they have to engage with the ad with a swipe to see this option, so you know that the user is interested in comparing the price for this product and therefore interested in buying. This could potentially lead to higher conversion rates, particularly for those with the best deals.

By sending more traffic to the Shopping tab, smaller retailers have a better chance to capture sales

Currently, large retailers dominate the Google Shopping results due to their large budgets as well as the fact that they have lots of brick and mortar stores located across the country (more likely to show higher up the Google Shopping results on Mobile if you have a Local PLA). This means that a user could look to compare prices on a particular product and see that a smaller retailer with a smaller budget has the best price, which means that they also benefit from this.

Paid Search adds another nail to the coffin for Organic

On top of the Mobile SERP changes that we saw in Q4 2015, this adds another 25% to Paid Search ads real estate. This again could push the organic listings further down the SERP. This places even more importance on you being competitive on Mobile.

Dan Roberts
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