Amazon Refuses To Pay-To-Play In Google’s New Shopping Search

Stores offering Kindles on Google Shopping

As Google shifts its Shopping search to a pay-for-play model, one key commerce company appears to be sitting on the sidelines — Amazon. As noted in a New York Times feature that ran over the weekend, consumers who search on Google Shopping can find Kindles from a variety of stores via the listings, but Amazon isn’t one of them.

Google Shopping’s omission of the most powerful ecommerce brand on the webraises the question of how successful the company’s new model will be. After all, Google has been successful in other search by providing comprehensive results — along with the opportunity for advertisers to pay extra to be highlighted in ad positions. Will consumers start their shopping search at Google if it’s clear they aren’t getting a full picture of the shopping possibilities?

Part of the reason for Amazon’s absence, of course, is that the ecommerce player is itself vying to be the entry point for consumers shopping online. Besides carrying products itself, and including listings from other merchants among its product results, Amazon also offers ecommerce players at least two different ad types — and clicking on those ads takes shoppers to sites outside of Amazon.

Amazon does at least give a nod to Google’s power, buying ads that appear in regular web searches, and in AdWords at the bottom of Shopping SERPs, even though its products don’t show up in the product listings ads.

Web Search Results for “Amazon Kindle”

Amazon may be big enough, with enough brand recognition of its own, to bypass Google Shopping, but what about the rank-and-file of etailers? The New York Times piece, and our own reporting, seems to indicate that retailers feel somewhat bullied into buying paid listings ads from Google, though some said they were pleased to receive more control. Even those paying for listings may not advertise as many different products as they previously included in feeds.

In the New York Times piece, Google wouldn’t divulge how many retailers are paying for listings, saying only that there was “significant participation.”

Related Topics: Channel: Retail | Google: Google Shopping | Top News


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  • Ric Sansand

    This is huge and is a good piece of news to have as Google’s searches are degrading over time as they skew the results and presentation. I will just go straight to Amazon and do my product search before I bother with google.

    Google better wise up before they become second rate at their core competancy!

  • David Jaeger

    I have to say, I think there is a big misunderstanding here. Amazon is one of the largest Adwords spenders in the world.

    Amazon doesn’t have a problem paying the big bucks for clicks. The bigger problem is that Amazon has their own service (Amazon product Ads) that competes with Google for Advertisers dollars. I believe that if they pay for Google’s version of those ads, they may be supporting a competitor service, which they don’t want to do.

    This is GREAT news for the smaller retailers – as Amazon is one of the 800 pound gorillas eating search spend. If they aren’t in the product ads space, it will be one less big, savvy advertisers to drive up CPC’s.

  • staceyclermont

    Quite a few businesses are opting out of Google’s paid services. They have a huge hold on search and like any ‘good’ corporation are completely taking advantage of their market share. There was bound to be a point where businesses would rethink their strategy to prevent paying any more money to Google. Google is pushing people’s patience to the limit.

  • totnuckers

    Yea this is a good news for small web retailers, not on the reason you gave.

  • Steal Her Style

    This will put a lot of pressure on Google to end the pay-to-play model. Previously they’ve said that paid listings are better for users, but how can it be better for users if there are no results from the largest store on the internet? If more major retailers follow suit the results will be poor, Google will look foolish, and they may be forced to reconsider.

  • fjpoblam

    Exactly. If I want to *shop*, I go straight to Amazon. If I want to shop for “toothpaste” I’m reasonably sure I’ll get a full uncluttered list of available toothpastes (heck, even showing price per ounce for comparison). And if I want to narrow it to “toothpaste made in USA” I get the similar, straight, uncluttered results, ready to order. Who needs G? (As they said, another SE is just a click away.)

  • Ian Smith

    No matter which way this is looked at it has to be good news for smaller businesses – as Mr Jaeger has just pointed out.

  • Stefan Weitz

    Are the “paid inclusion” products always going to show as an ad or are they going to be in the shopping vertical results? Seems lame if the latter.


    I think I forgot to send post. As I was saying, it does sound like great news but the reality is that amazon does not have to feel need to pay to be in google shopping, they totally dominate the ecommerce arena and better yet, the google organic rank with gazillions of links showing at the click of any search query that may relate to a product. The real proof will be shown during the holiday season, is there and then when we will see if amazon is going to be out, perhaps they will also get a huge “free clicks coupon” like the 13 I got in the last 2 months and they will “use it” in the google shopping. For now is great that they refuse to be in google shopping, just to say that they refuse to pay is great news

  • Jack Hutchinson

    Amazon may be one of the largest stores, but as others have said before this is great news for smaller retailers who can’t always afford to compete with Amazon in CPC even if their products are more competitively priced! This will encourage people to shop around more to get the best deal.

  • Larry Weeks

    We manage some if the largest retailers in the country on PLA. The NYC times got it wrong so far. If you look at the organic SERPs you still see Amazon listings display on PLA outside of the Google Shopping property. Amazon may be limiting listings but they are still selling on Google Shopping. Google has a policy regarding all marketplaces that limit duplicate listings from the same seller. This could be a result of that.

  • George Michie

    This is a bold decision by Amazon. Does it encourage shoppers to abandon Google, or do consumers simply forget about Amazon? Dicey question for commodity resellers. Amazon carries almost nothing that can’t be found in a hundred other stores online. This will be an interesting test of the incremental value of advertising for them. If we see them back in the mix before Xmas, we’ll know how that test turned out.

  • shayne catrett
  • Webstats Art

    You are right. I know lots of businessmen who are seeing google as an impediment which needs to be cut off. Google is helping the competition more than ever in 2012 by making millions of new enemies. Once the crowd gets big enough there will be a shift of power on the web.

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