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Google Product Search becomes Google Shopping and now…you’ve got to pay


Google Shopping

Google Product Search is essentially a product comparison service which lists products based solely on relevance.

From Autumn 2012, this service will change and will only display products from retailers that have paid the required fee to be a part of the new Google Shopping experience.

According to Google, ‘having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality data—whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability—should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.

Whether turning Google Product Search into a paid service will actually improve results, remains to be seen. To me, it’s reminiscent of the way Amazon operates, whereby each brand pays to have its own in-house representative to look after their products. Will Google eventually offer the same?

At the moment however, Google is planning to operate Google Shopping the same way as is does its current product listing ads today (not in-person, but online and in your own time at your own expense). Products listed on this new service will rank based on a combination of bid price and relevance. This is supposed to give merchants more control over where specific products rank on Google Shopping.

Another feature that will surely generate even greater profits for the ‘Google gods’ is the Google Trusted Stores program. This program will offer merchants the chance to place a badge on their ecommerce websites. When clicked on, the badge will give information about the merchant’s background, size, ratings, customer service, etc. Furthermore, it’s not just a nice club to be part of. There’s a little bit of protection included as ‘Google stands behind merchants that have earned the Google Trusted Stores badge with a $1,000 lifetime purchase protection guarantee per shopper.

Online Product Search with Google is going to get a bit more product-focused which means that it’s also going to get easier to find and compare products online.

Here’s an example of what you might soon be seeing when you do a search for something like ‘telescopes’:

Google Shopping New Search

Perhaps Google really isn’t going down the Amazon route. Their second example of what you might see when you Google something very specific, like ‘Celestron CPC 800’ seems to suggest they’re really offering a price comparison service.

Google Telescope Search for New Google Products

Note that in the above two examples, the images are sponsored, meaning that if you want to compete with the big boys, you’re really going to have to set aside a budget for sponsored product advertisements.
Sameer Samat, the Vice President of Product Management for Google Shopping, says that ‘Google Shopping will empower businesses of all sizes to compete effectively–and it will help shoppers turn their intentions into actions lightning fast.

I’m not sure this is entirely true. Yes Google Shopping will provide increased product exposure, but will it really allow businesses of all sizes to compete with each other? Surely those that can afford the most sponsored listings and that have the most money to inject into such ventures will be the ones that come out on top? Once again, we’re just going to have to wait and see.

Keeping up with Google reminds me of what it was like to queue to get to the top of the Empire State Building: just as you think you must be near the front of the queue, you turn a corner and find yourself in another room filled to the next doorway with a snaking line of people, at least two times over.

It’s time to say goodbye to Google Product Search and hello to Google Shopping, Google Trusted Places, Paid Product Listings and whatever else is next in line…