POV: Google Shopping

Jan. 04, 2013 | by Tobit Michael

As you may be aware, Google are changing their comparison shopping service to a paid for service across Europe (having completed the change in the US in the latter half of last year).  By the end of Q2, only those with a feed linked to an AdWords account will be eligible to appear.

For retailers this is big news.  Historically Google shopping may not have been a priority for you, it was free traffic and you get some revenue from it with little effort.  Ad formats such as product extensions (PEs) and more significantly product listing ads (PLAs) have seen this shift though; it’s much more important to have a well optimised feed so that appropriate products can be targeted.

If you’re running on Google shopping but aren’t running PEs or PLAs then you’re missing a trick, and probably a lot of revenue.  We have typically seen PLAs contribute 10% of direct non-brand sales.  This influence extends further still when you analyse their impact on the purchase funnel.  With Google’s focus on feed products this impact is only going to increase as time goes by.

More importantly than this, if you haven’t linked your feed to an Adwords account then from 13 February you’ll start seeing traffic decline as Google phases out the standard shopping element of the service with the transition being completed by the end of Q2.

A growing number of ad formats suggest that keywordless search is Google’s vision for the future, with feeds being a key part in this (dynamic search ads being another).  While the number of ad formats driven off feeds are relatively low at the moment they are growing at a pace and this will continue throughout the year.  Retailers without a feed linked to an AdWords account will be significantly disadvantaged compared to those that do.

So what can you do?  The first step is to get access to your inventory management feed.  This is the bare bones of what Google shopping, and all other CSEs run off.  With a little tweaking this single source of input can be automatically re-formatted for the various shopping engines, including Google Shopping.

The next stage is to integrate this with your AdWords account.  At iCrossing we integrate merchant feeds into AdWords via our campaign management tool ARES with a dedicated feeds team on hand to set up bespoke solutions.

Finally, as with all Google products, first mover advantage is key.  This time next year the majority of retailers will be running feeds of some sort, making the landscape more competitive and expensive.  The next 3 – 9 months are a golden opportunity to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ with a well optimised, fully integrated merchant feed, stealing a march on your competitors and watching the revenue fly in!

Feed based ads are currently limited to retailers but travel and finance are the likely next candidates with comparison ads already being available to a limited number of advertisers.

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    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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