During the current crisis, many companies and organisations have been thinking of ways to support those businesses who are struggling.
Here at Extreme for example, we have been working with local bricks and mortar businesses to help them establish an online presence, with the creation of discounted starter ecommerce website package.
Google themselves have used this time to announce a massive change to the shopping results pages, in a move which should, in their words, help ‘merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.’
Bill Ready, Google’s President of Commerce, announced in a blog post their bold plans to re-introduce free listings on the Google Shopping results page, moving away from the current dominance of paid shopping ads.
This is a change which was reportedly already on Google’s roadmap, but the current global situation has propelled the update forward. Free listings have already been rolled out in the USA, where shoppers are already seeing the new and improved results page. The UK and the rest of the global market are set to follow suit later in the year.
How can advertisers benefit from free Google shopping ads?
For advertisers, this is a huge opportunity to get more of your products in front of potential customers without paying thousands of pounds in Google ad spend. Simply by having a merchant centre and a product feed, you will be eligible for your products to pull through into the shopping results, at absolutely no cost to you.
It is important to note that paid shopping ads should still form an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. The shopping ads at the top of the search page will still be paid for, and there will still be a presence for paid ads amongst the free shopping results. It’s likely that for the first few months following the change, we will see the positions of these paid ads shift and move around. (We all know that Google likes to test the most effective placements for paid ads; remember when they appeared down the right hand side of the search results?!)
The best strategy, therefore, would be to select the products that you really want to promote. They may be your best sellers, new product launches, or simply products that you need to shift, and build your paid strategy around these. Then let the free listings take care of the products that are not necessarily a priority.
How will the free Google shopping ads affect shoppers?
For shoppers, the change should theoretically give us more choice and variety as well as instant access to retailers who historically have not had the budget to advertise their products on Google.
At the moment, for example, a shopping search for ‘dumbbells’ (a popular search, given the recent necessary rise of home workouts) returns twenty paid ads on page one, seven of which are shared out between two well known high street retailers and a further seven are for eBay products. This leaves only six listings for other sellers, who almost certainly have lower budgets and fewer product lines.
If done right, this change should represent an opportunity to steal away some of the power held by the ‘big players’, fostering a more interesting and dynamic shopping results page.
How to take advantage of the free Google shopping ads
If you already have a Google merchant centre, you need to ensure that you have opted in to sell on ‘surfaces across Google’. This can be found under Growth > Manage Programs. If you do not have a Google merchant account, you will need to get one set up and establish a product feed.
To give your products the best chance possible of appearing in these much coveted free spots, work with your digital marketing team to optimise your product feed. If you are running any paid shopping campaigns, feed optimisation should be something that is being done on a regular basis anyway as it is also your best strategy for delivering strong results from your paid shopping ads.
Finally, we will of course know more when this change is rolled out in the UK, but it appears that we will eventually be able to see the impact of these unpaid ads in a performance report which will also be accessed through your merchant centre, so keep an eye out for this!