What’s happened to Product Listing Ads (PLAs)?
In June 2017, The European Commission slapped a record 2.4-billion-euro ($2.8 billion) fine on the world’s most popular internet search engine.
A result of Google “abusing its dominance in search by giving preference to its own shopping service.”
It appears the EU now considers Google Search an essential part of “everyday life”, so much so that Google are unable to exclusively use its own service.
As an industry, we expected Google to stave off payment via a stance previous deployed: years of expensive litigation.
Instead, From September 2017, Comparison Shopping Engines/Services (CSEs) such as Kelkoo, Shopzilla and Twenga will be able to run product listing ads in Google Shopping results, as retailers do.
You can find an example of what that might look like below:
(This update only affects results in EU countries where Google Shopping is available: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.)
In a stunning move of brilliance, Google have taken a potential loss of market share into an avenue for increased revenue. With Price Comparison Sites and retailers now competing for the same Search/Shopping real-estate.
What does this mean for Price Comparison Sites?
Google has long had a turbulent relationship with price comparison services. In March 2016, it shut down its own Google Compare Product to allow greater real estate for its advertising offering.
So, what can we expect now from Price Comparison Sites? It turns out, at first, very little.
A review by Bloomberg.com found next to no presence from CSEs on launch day, which Google maintained was a result of “a new system” and limited testing during development.
Unreserved budgeting and the extensive logistics of meeting Google Merchant Centre requirements are far more likely reasons.
What does this mean for Google Shopping Marketers?
At present, we simply don’t know.
With CSEs only viable for Shopping on Google Search page & a current lack of reporting options for that specific overlap, a lot of marketing are asking themselves “What next”?
First position impression share reporting, a beta made available a Google H2 Product Kick Off, should provide some more specific answers around the value of the Search area and any possible changes CSEs might have.
How should Merchants Prepare?
Merchants currently participating in Google Shopping and at least one or more CSE will now not only need to manage visibility on Google Shopping and CSEs independently, but their possible overlap on PLAs.
Ensuring commission rates for Affiliates and Google Shopping performance is aligned is a must to prevent any extreme CSE presence.
Ultimately, Attribution will decide how this new bidding dynamic will affect merchants’ own bidding strategy and will certainly be an interesting area to explore.