Is Google Shopping Going Paid?

I am sure you are all familiar with Google Shopping. It has existed in various forms, Google Base, Froogle, Google Product Search (as it still is in the US) and now Google Shopping! As one of Google’s “free” products it has served many of our clients well, delivering great results directly through the shopping channel, but also as user grabbing ad extensions though the paid adwords platform.

Product Listing Ads

When Product Listing Ads were launched last year, we all got very excited by the opportunity to further control the SERP on those terms/products that were our better performers. Locking out position one with PPC and relevant sitelinks, a product listing ad, solid SEO rankings as well as Google’s “free” shopping listing gave the advertiser commanding exposure and delivered fantastic ROI on the right products! However, little did we know that Product Listing Ads were a prelude for a paid Shopping model!

SERP Testing

Although it is still early days we have confirmation that Google will begin testing new SERP formats to include what is being called the “Google Shopping Box”. This will essentially replace the free Shopping listings in the SERP as well as the Product Listing Ads, meaning that Google Shopping will move to a paid platform. Much like that of the current Product Listing Ads.

This is going to be the first time Google have retracted a free service in place of a paid one, and as you can imagine there is likely to be some uproar as a result. None the less, it is going to happen, so better to go with it than fight it I’d say… however there is no need to panic right away, this is unlikely to come in until the end of Summer at the earliest, with some sources suggesting a 2013 launch date for Europe.

What Next?

So what can you do in preparation? Well Google are already offering help to our American cousins in the form of an incentive to get into using Product Listing Ads. This is likely to be to stimulate the uptake of these ad types, in an effort to prepare advertisers for the change. As such I would recommend starting to use Product LIsting Ads, with an adwords account and merchant centre it is very easy to set up a basic adgroup, but as you will find, there are also lots of opportunities for granular expansion as all us PPC champions enjoy!

The sooner you get to grips with the ad type that is likely to form the basis of this updated product, the easier the transition should be for you.

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