First there was Froogle and it was good. Then there was Google Base and Google Product Search, and at least they were still free. Soon we’re getting Google Shopping, which for most advertisers will be a nice kick square in the teeth. For those of you that enjoyed a solid decade of free product listings, kiss that goodbye come October… Google wants its money and the house always wins.
So what’s the quick version of what’s going on here? After a decade of free product search results via a data feed THE ENTIRE system is moving to a paid model controlled via Adwords and the Google Merchant Center. This is the first time Google has taken an organic channel of traffic and completely switched it to a paid channel. Needless to say a lot of small and medium sized businesses that relied on this traffic to feed their websites are pretty hopping mad. On top of making this traffic cost money for the first time, the data feed has also gotten more complicated with more required attributes. This update is being taken easily in stride by major brands with large stores and lots of marketing budget, but it’s a harder pill to swallow for the little guys.
Now that I’m done catastrophizing over Google Shopping, it is worth mentioning that there are a few upsides. For starters, advertisers now have some control over their product listings via bidding. Before you just tossed your data feed into the wind and hoped for the best. The new product listing ads also create some interesting options in Adwords in terms of how you break things down for bidding. You can do an open all products ad group, or just focus on specific types of products and give them higher or lower bids based on their value to your business.
If Product Listing Ads are something of interest to you I recommend spending an hour going through the videos the Google Commerce team has put together to explain how the new system is going to work. The 4 videos available here:
Once you’ve digested Google Shopping conceptually it’s time to start digging into the data feed documentation. Might want to budget the rest of your week for this one:
Once the data feed is complete Adwords implementation will be fairly simple, but you’re going to have to make a commitment to maintaining that feed and updating it regularly so as to not run afoul of Google’s desire for complete matching perfect listings.
Anyone want to take bets on when we’ll start needing a credit card to secure a Google Places listing?