Google Shopping is beginning its transition to a commercial model in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Australia, and Switzerland next month – a transition that was completed in the United States in October 2012 – meaning that, for the first time, merchants in said 10 countries must pay to have their products listed on Google Shopping.
Google Shopping, formerly known as Google Product Search, existed as an aside to normal Google Search results. Online retailers could submit large amounts of product data to Google using Google Merchant Centre (formerly Google Base), which Google then ranked organically as it would other results from the wider web. That was until May of last year when Google announced that Google Shopping would be transitioning to a wholly monetised service.
With its new commercial model, Google Shopping results are ranked by a “combination of relevance and bid price” – much the same a normal Google AdWords ads.
Google admits that it believes a commercial model will “encourage them [merchants] to keep their product information fresh and up to date”. Higher quality data “should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants”.
As before, merchants must now feed their product data to Google Merchant Centre. They can then create what are called Product Listing Ads (PLAs) within Google AdWords based on this data feed and set their geographic targets, bidding price, etc as they would with any other AdWords campaign.
Google are giving merchants several months to adjust to its new policy. The first major change will take place on February 13 when bid price will begin to affect product rank on Google Shopping. The transition to a fully paid-for model will be completed by the end of Q2 2013 (sometime around June we imagine).
To encourage merchants to make this transition and create Product Listing Ads on Google AdWords, Google is offering 10% credit of their monthly PLA spend from February 15 to June 30, 2013.