Soon, you may recognize a new way Google is promoting its merchants. Instead of “Google Product Search,” shopping on Google will soon be known as simply, “Google Shopping.” How will this affect you?
Instead of allowing online merchants to have their ads posted in Google’s popular shopping section, merchants will now have to “pay-to-play” — they will need to pay in order to have their products listed in search results. No more free subscriptions!
Google Shopping hopes to bring better shopping results to searchers, and in turn, hopes to draw more customers into Google Shopping stores. By providing an all-paid, opt-in model to consumers, Google says that results will be more relevant.
In the United States, the transition to this new system began earlier this summer and will be completed at the end of fall 2012. The U.S. is just a preliminary experiment to see how this new model will fare. After the transition is complete in the U.S. market, Google will begin to make the change to markets outside of the United States. Some merchants in countries outside the U.S. may have already noticed the product change, but have not experienced the price change.
Moving to a purely commercial model that is built on the Product Listing Ads will promote more timely data, Google hopes. By asking merchants to pay for their listings, the thinkers at Google believe that merchants will make sure that the products that they are listing contain correct descriptions, prices, and inventory listings.
Google still get shopping listings by sending out search bots to scour the web for relevant results when a user entered into a query — that is not going away. However, in this new system, merchants will need to pay a fee in order to be listed on the dedicated Google Shopping search engine.
In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, Google is starting small by running experiments to test out the new system; they are looking at listings that merge Google Product Listing Ads and Google Product Search together.
For the first time, Google will transition from a search product that was once free to a paid model. While Google says it will create a more efficient shopping experience for customers, merchants are wondering if it means that Google will cut the free listings in other places as well.