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Friday, 1 March 2013

Friday Guest Blog: Google Shopping UK set to move to a paid Inclusion Model


By Nazma Noor, Digital Marketing Executive at Return on Digital   

Google is changing the way it displays UK shopping results when somebody searches for a specific product. The change means that businesses will have to pay to get their products included in the search results.

Google Shopping results often appear in the search engine when a specific product is searched for. Globally, Google Shopping results account for 1.3 billion dollars (£849m) in revenue for businesses. It’s currently free for UK businesses to include their products in the shopping search results – all they have to do is submit information about their products to Google in the format of a product feed.
However as of 13th February 2013 Google UK will be moving towards only showing companies who “pay to display” their products. Google has already successfully moved from free listings to paid-only listings for US search results and it was only a matter of time before they rolled this out in the UK.
Businesses who rely on the free website traffic they get through the current Google Shopping UK results could effectively see their revenues slowly dwindle and eventually stop completely in around June 2013 as the free listings stop being displayed completely.

How the new Google Shopping UK system will work
The new paid system will work in a similar way to pay-per-click advertising and will be managed via the same portal – Google Adwords. The Google Adwords account will be linked up to another system Google Merchant Centre, which is where the product feeds are submitted.
“Product Listing Ads” or PLAs will need to be created for each product and businesses would be wise to optimise their product feed and ensure it is regularly updated to include seasonal discounts and offers. Businesses will also need to think about ways to make their product ads stand out against the competition, for example by being creative with their product images.

Benefits of the change to a paid system
The loss of “free” traffic from this source will no doubt be a concern for businesses that currently use Google Shopping UK. However there are some positive aspects to consider. Firstly, Google are offering incentives in the form of vouchers/credit to give businesses a test budget. Secondly it gives businesses much greater control over where there products will appear, for example a business may choose to put higher spend behind products with large profit margins and lower spend or no listing at all for lower value products.

There have been mixed views on the paid-system from businesses that have been using it in the USA however with average conversion rates of 2.78% it would be unwise to overlook this channel from your online marketing plans.

For more information on Google Shopping click here.

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