Google Product Search To Become Google Shopping, Use Pay-To-Play Model

Google Product Search is getting a new name, Google Shopping, and a new business model where only merchants that pay will be listed. It’s the first time Google will decommission a search product that previously listed companies for free. The company says the change will improve the searcher experience, but it will also likely raise new worries that Google may further cut free listings elsewhere.

“This is about delivering the best answers for people searching for products and helping connect merchants with the right customers,” said Sameer Samat, vice president of product management for Google Shopping, when explaining that by moving to an all-paid model, Google believes it will have better and more trustworthy data that will improve the shopping search experience for its users.

Perhaps this will be so; perhaps not. We’ll only have a better idea when the transformation is complete. The process begins now with experiments, launches more fully in the summer and will take through the fall to finish in the United States, when the service should be formally renamed from Google Product Search to Google Shopping.

Next year, the change to paid inclusion will happen outside the US, Google says. In some countries, Google Product Search has already been called Google Shopping but without the paid listings model.

Starting Now: Experiments

Beginning today, Google will run a variety of experiments on Google.com, for a small percentage of searchers at first, that merge listings from Google Product Listing Ads and Google Product Search together. To understand better, consider this “before” example:

You can see that Google has its traditional AdWords text ads above and to the right of the main results. Also above are Product Listing Ads, which were launched at the end of 2010 and allow advertisers to show small images next to their ads, as well as purchase on a CPA (cost per action/sale) basis, rather than the more common CPC (cost per click) basis. Product Listing Ads sometimes appear to the right of the main results, as well.

The screenshot also shows the “free” listings that Google provides, those that come from Google crawling the web, as well as those from Google Product Search. The listings from Google Product Search come from Google’s web crawl as well as from data feeds that merchants send to Google.

In contrast, below is an example of how one of the new experiments may look:

Rather than the Product Listing Ads and Google Product Search results being separate, both will be combined into a single Google Shopping box. Here’s another example, with a close-up on the Google Shopping box:

The example below shows how, at times, only one product might appear to the side of the main results:

Again, here’s a different example, with a close-up on the box:

Goodbye Google Product Search & Free Listings

As said earlier, Google Product Search currently gets its listings from Google crawling the web or by retailers submitting product data and feeds through the Google Merchant Center. There has been no charge for either. Indeed, Google has never charged for being in its shopping search engine since it began back in December 2002 and was called Froogle.

That’s ending. There’s no firm date on exactly when the free ride will be over, other than it should happen by the fall of this year.

Merchants may continue to be listed within Google’s free web search results. That’s not changing. But those wanting to appear in a dedicated shopping search engine — and in the Google Shopping boxes that will appear as part of Google’s regular results — will need to pay.

Hello Google Shopping & Paid Inclusion

The forthcoming Google Shopping will operate on what’s been known in the search industry as a paid inclusion model. That’s where companies pay to be listed but payment doesn’t guarantee that they’ll rank well for any particular terms.

In particular, Google says advertisers will provide data feeds or create product listings through Google AdWords, in campaigns that are set to run on Google Shopping. It will work very similarly to how Product Listing Ads work now. Merchants won’t bid on particular keywords but rather bid how much they’re willing to pay, if their listings appear and get clicks or produce sales. Getting a top ranking will depend on a combination of perceived relevance and bid price.

As part of the changes, Google Shopping will incorporate Google Trusted Stores badges into the listings, for those merchants who participate in the program. Google has already been testing the use of these within AdWords.

Google also says the new Google Shopping listings will be able to show if merchants have any special deals or offers — these can also be sent within the merchant’s data feed.

Product Listing Ads as a product will be phased out when Google Shopping takes over, but Google says using the PLA system now is the best way for merchants to prepare for the Google Shopping change. That’s why Google is offering two incentives to get merchants going with them now, if they’re not already:

  • All merchants that create Product Listings Ads by August 15 will receive 10% credit for their total PLA spend through the end of the year
  • Existing Google Product Search merchants will get a $100 AdWords credit if they fill out a form before August 15

Google provides more details about this and the forthcoming transition here. We’ll also be following-up with more transition advice and details as they become known.

Didn’t Google Hate Paid Inclusion?

The paid inclusion model will be familiar to many merchants, who know it’s commonly used with other shopping search engines. But it’s new to Google. In fact, it’s a model that Google once fought against, even to the degree of characterizing it as evil. Those days are over. Google Shopping will becomes the fourth “vertical” or topically-focused search engine from Google to use paid inclusion.

Once Deemed Evil, Google Now Embraces “Paid Inclusion” is my column from yesterday at our sister site Marketing Land. It explains the history of Google’s past opposition to paid inclusion and its reversal over the past year. Of that history, I’ll highlight this part of Google’s 2004 IPO filing, which specifically talked about paid inclusion being bad in terms of shopping search:

Froogle [what's now called Google Product Search and will be called Google Shopping] enables people to easily find products for sale online. By focusing entirely on product search, Froogle applies the power of our search technology to a very specific task—locating stores that sell the items users seek and pointing them directly to the web sites where they can shop. Froogle users can sort results by price, specify a desired price range and view product photos.

Froogle accepts data feeds directly from merchants to ensure that product information is up-to-date and accurate. Most online merchants are also automatically included in Froogle’s index of shopping sites. Because we do not charge merchants for inclusion in Froogle, our users can browse product categories or conduct product searches with confidence that the results we provide are relevant and unbiased.

I bolded the key part. Eight years ago, Google viewed paid inclusion in general as some type of evil the company should avoid and in particular something that could cause shopping search to have poor relevancy or be biased.

What happened to cause such a change?

Reversing Its Stance

For one, Google’s official line seems to be that it hasn’t changed its mind about anything. That’s because it’s changing the definition of what paid inclusion is, to effectively claim that it’s not doing it. This is the statement I was sent after my column appeared yesterday:

Paid inclusion has historically been used to describe results that the website owner paid to place, but which were not labelled differently from organic search results.  We are making it very clear to users that there is a difference between these results for which Google may be compensated by the providers, and our organic search results.

As I did yesterday, I’ll disagree again. Paid inclusion has been historically used to describe when people pay to appear in a search engine’s results but without any guarantee of prominent placement. What’s happening with Google Shopping is classic, textbook paid inclusion. It matches up precisely with the US Federal Trade Commission’s own definition of paid inclusion:

Paid inclusion can take many forms. Examples of paid inclusion include programs where the only sites listed are those that have paid; where paid sites are intermingled among non-paid sites; and where companies pay to have their Web sites or URLs reviewed more quickly, or for more frequent spidering of their Web sites or URLs, or for the review or inclusion of deeper levels of their Web sites, than is the case with non-paid sites.

Again, I’ve bolded the key part, a part that defines exactly what’s going to happen with Google Shopping.

The fact Google considered paid inclusion evil in the past is an embarrassment that some will have a good chuckle about. But companies do change stances. The bigger issue in all this is whether the shift is good for searchers and publishers.

Paid Relationships Can Be Good

When it comes to searchers, Google’s view is that by having a paid relationship, it can better ensure the quality of what it lists in Google Shopping.

“We believe a commercial relationship with partners is critical to ensuring we receive high quality product data, and with better data we can build better products,” Samat told me.

Today’s blog post from Google reflects the same view:

We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality data—whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability—should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.

A good example of the potential here is something we covered last November. Google had warned merchants in Google Product Search to include tax and shipping costs in their feeds. But well past Google’s deadline, merchants were still flouting those rules.

Potentially, those merchants risked being kicked out of Google Product Search. But being a free service, it possible the merchants might come back in another way. There was a low barrier to entry. That low barrier also means much more has to be policed.

When payment is involved, it’s harder to be abusive. Merchants risk losing their accounts, along with any trust built up to those accounts. In addition, when they’re paying by the click or by the sale, there’s more incentive to ensure listings are relevant.

But There Was No Other Way?

Still, this is an unprecedented move by Google. The company has never eliminated a search product that had free listings and shifted to an all-paid model.

I couldn’t think of any examples of this in the past, and Google confirmed this was a first. At best, it offered that Boutiques.com — purchased in 2010 and integrated into Google Product Search in 2011 — had a similar pay-to-play model. But Boutiques.com wasn’t an existing service that was shifted from free to fee.

For a company with such a long history of trying to be inclusive, it’s shocking. It’s more so when Bing Shopping accepts free listings. Google couldn’t find a way to do what Microsoft does?

“We’ve looked at a number of different aspects to approach this, but we have to evolve our experience. We believe consumers have a higher expectation of shopping online,” Samat said.

Will It Stay Comprehensive?

One thing I’ve generally loved about Google Product Search is that if I couldn’t find some odd product on Amazon (which tends to be a pseudo-shopping search engine for me), Google seemed able to ferret it out. But with the change to a paid inclusion model, will the ability to get into the nooks and crannies of the retail web be lost?

Google told me that it currently has tens of thousands of merchants listed in Google Product Search for free. I asked if the company had any idea how that might change when payment is required or if there would be an impact on comprehensiveness?

“We really want all kinds of merchants to participate,” Samat said. But he also said, ”It’s hard to speculate on how this will play out. Our objective here is to deliver a better experience. We are doing a number of things to help the users’ experience get better.”

Going Forward

In the end, Google is shifting to what’s been the industry standard when it comes to shopping search, to have a paid inclusion program. The curious can take a look here at SingleFeed for a rundown on who offers paid plans or here at CPC Strategy. Most shopping search engines do. Even Bing, which is listed as being free, also does paid inclusion through a partnership with Shopping.com, saying that doing this will increase visibility.

One thing about the change is that it will probably cause all the shopping search engines out there to better disclose the paid relationships they have. As I covered in my column yesterday, the FTC has seemed to ignore that some don’t have any disclosure at all, as required. Google’s move has the potential to raise the bar here, and that’s sorely needed.

For searchers, Google’s trying to find the balance between having incredibly comprehensive results and the noise that can harm relevancy when there’s too much junk and not enough signal, it seems. As I said, it remains to see if they’ll get that balance right.

For publishers, there’s a whole lot of worry here. If Google can turn one search product to an all-paid basis, nothing really prevents it from doing the same for others. Could Google News only carry listings from publishers that want to pay? Will Google Places, already just transformed into a part of the Google+ social network, be changed to a pay-or-don’t play yellow pages-style model?

Even web search could be threatened. All the arguments about wanting to get better data and filter out noise are just as applicable to web search. The main reassuring thing here is that there’s little likelihood that Google could get hundreds of millions of web sites to do paid inclusion at the risk of not being listed. Pure paid inclusion works better in the world of vertical search, where there are only thousands of companies you’re dealing with.

Meanwhile, with Google Play selling content, will Google eventually decide that Google Shopping should make the next logical step and provide transactions, the way that Amazon does? At some point, Google the search engine that is supposed to point to destinations may turn into too much of a destination itself.

Related Articles

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Google: AdWords: Product Listing Ads | Google: Google Shopping | SEO: Paid Inclusion | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • daveintheuk

    Excellent analysis as ever. Your last sentence hits the nail on the head – Google is basically trying (for profitable niches) to shrink the internet to google.com. It is so sad to see them turning their backs on all the principles they held close and that made them a company to be admired…

  • http://www.facebook.com/dmitry.pakhomkin Dmitry Pakhomkin

    Thank you Google… You just made Goodzer look even better now in the eyes of the independent retailers.

  • Steve Ceaton

    This is just typical of Googles drive to massively monetize their business model.  The thing I used to like about Google was their philosophy of “do no evil”. But this passed year they have been getting greedier and greedier and I can’t see them stopping.  All this new product search will do is have the big companies paying to be listed while the smaller companies who may be offering a better product at a cheaper price are left in obscurity.  Not good for the user at all.

  • Den Nicholson

    I live in Europe so I guess we are going to be hit first, I just find this whole thing so hypocritical.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    This is big news.  RKG’s take on this is here:  http://www.rimmkaufman.com/blog/google-shopping-no-longer-free/31052012/ 

    This will have significant impact in ecommerce.  Amazon among others will be writing BIG checks to Google for traffic they used to get for free.

  • http://twitter.com/rodnitzky David Rodnitzky

    I gave a preso to the AdWords team way back in 2003 in which I suggested that Google allow paid inclusion. They all smirked . . .

  • daveintheuk

     Totally agree with this – they are just another big corporation now, with shareholders demands as their sole motivation. I don’t think there is anybody who works online who had anything but a huge amount of respect for Google on a technical and moral level a few years ago – I don’t think that can be the same now.

  • daveintheuk

    Here in the UK I see this as Google doing to the internet what has happened to our high streets – homogenised, lifeless, dull places filled with big brands as all the small guys have been squeezed out.

  • XroadZ

    Complete BS from Google.  Personally I believe that some merchants, particularly the very large ones (Zappos for example), are already compensating Google for their top listings in Google Product Search.  Much like the do with the Google flight search, only showing flights that they are receiving compensation on while stating the contrary.  For a company that demands that we do the right think in regards to SEO to produce unbiased relevancy they certainly are not holding themselves to the same standard.  The hypocrisy is is epic.  Legendary if it’s a bid model and not flat rate.

  • GaneshNayak

    The listing are clearly marked as sponsored… which puts it in the same category as ads…. I don’t see any problem… the definition of paid inclusion is applicable for organic results.

    Yes, if the merchants who have participated in the program, get higher place in the organic results, then it can be called as paid inclusion

  • http://cl.lk/23qx8aq Elizabeth H. Crane

    Google for traffic they used to get for free. http://WorkInFaceBook.notlong.com

  • daveintheuk

     It isn’t a problem – it is their right to do it… it is just very, very sad to see Google become so greedy (You’d think $10 billion profit per year would do, wouldn’t you?) and to turn their back on their original ethos and values.

    Gone are the days Google employees can hold their heads high, they are just corporate drones now – cogs in the shareholder feeding machine. A sad day for them.

  • http://twitter.com/DSquaredMedia DSquared-Media

    How about that? All the testing should be finalized this fall, and probably right around Thanksgiving. It’s going to be a very Merry Christmas for Google this year.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

    Another nail in the coffin for small businesses.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnWEllis John W. Ellis

    Any ideas how or if this will be displayed on mobile?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisleone Chris Leone

    Both organically and now shopping, Google seems to be giving advantages to larger, more financed companies. It’s getting harder for the smaller guys to play ball. We’ll see how it plays out, but this really does concern me. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=723560886 Alex Gross

    This has always been a matter of when they monetized GPS, not if…  Whenever I look at traffic acquisition costs and strategies, I always asked if this was the year Google would monetize GPS traffic.  Well, the time is now…

  • TheWhiteLotus

    Oh please, Google doing this is probably just a way to filter out the spam, just like when Android and iOS charge devs a small fee to list their apps in the stores to fight spam and know the devs are serious about it. Right now the Product Search results are spammy as hell.

  • Sean Godier

    Why even try to compete in organic after this? With most of the content above the fold going to Google products, followed by Walmart/Amazon/whatever big brand that Google loves that moment, there won’t be a need to sell stuff online.  You’ll never be seen…

  • http://www.facebook.com/dmitry.pakhomkin Dmitry Pakhomkin

    True, it can be the case now unless products are different from what big boys sell.  

  • http://twitter.com/StarSearchinng Dave A

    As both a merchant and user of Google Shopping, I think this change will do more harm than good. As a user, I will now look at Google Shopping in the same way I view Pricegrabber, where you’ll only see prices from top merchants who can afford to pay for ads, rather than finding the best price, which I thought was the general goal of Google Shopping. While I do admit this will clean up the number of bogus listings, it will also take the little guys out of the game. Just another expense the small businesses will have to absorb, or go out of business. We get 90% of our traffic from Google Shopping and this may force us to close our store since our profit margins are already so slim. Nice work Google!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VMQNBJRXQJ3U775KGWMR3FMXIQ Korr Mett

    Are you an online-only store or brick-and-mortar?

  • Edwin Fernandez

    Why are people so worried and pissed that Google is actually attempting to make money on something.  Do you guys actually think that maintaining all the hardware, software, and all the other FREE services that Google provides is actually free?  If you had a business, wouldn’t you want to make money or MAXIMIZE your profits?  You guys are so hypocritical that it makes me sick.

  • Durant Imboden

    Seems reasonable to me. Shopping results of the kind that we’re discussing here–little product photos with prices–are a different kettle of fish from Google’s standard organic search results. They’re basically ads (whether paid or unpaid), and whatever algorithm that Google uses to decide which ones get shown is obviously different from the algorithm used to rank Web pages. It’s a stretch to assume that, just because Google charges for inclusion of shopping results, it’s going to weaken its core product and drive away users by charging for the inclusion of Wikipedia articles, New York Times stories, Food.com recipes, or John and Jane Doe’s blog posts.

  • http://searchmarketingwisdom.com alanbleiweiss

    This was foreshadowed in your interview of Amit Singhal during an SMX event where he talked about the travel partnerships (some paid, some not, supposedly) that now show up in the SERP.  It totally squeezes out Google’s original purpose in favor of self-contained direct profit opportunities leveraged by their ever-close-to-monopoly status. 

    Singhal claimed that too was for similar reasons.  I think he said they found that searches for travel weren’t producing any quality results. Ha. What it does is steers people away from visiting Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak and a host of other sites that show up in organic results just fine.

    Yeah at the pace they continue on, SEO could very well die eventually and that’s no joke. 

    Then again, this could just be one more step toward another company (bing maybe?) stepping in as Google trashes their core intent value.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    It wasn’t a stretch when Google argued against paid inclusion for shopping results back in 2004. Back then, Google’s view was that its search technology was robust enough that it didn’t have to rely on paid relationships to separate out the signal from the noise. Eight years later, has Google’s search technology gotten worse? It’s competitor back then argued just Google is doing now, that paid relationships can help. I guess Google’s proving them right, in the end, and itself wrong those years ago.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Google makes its money by leveraging the content of other web sites to build listings. There’s long been an unspoken but understood contact between search engines that they send traffic to sites, for using their content in this way. Some people are going to be reasonably upset that, years after Google created a shopping search engine by effectively borrowing content from other web sites — without explicit permission — it’s now decided that its shopping search engine is big enough that it can turn the tables and demand payment. Other people might be upset that Google, which once said people shouldn’t be charged to be in its own or any search engine, now has changed its mind. That type of hypocrisy is what may fairly be said to be making others sick.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    If it were to fight spam, a small one-time or annual fee would be reasonable. That’s not the case. This is going to be on-going payments, and a change that potentially turns Google Shopping into a billion dollar revenue generator for Google overnight. Moreover, Google years ago had all the same issues with spam but rejected paid inclusion. Its technology should be better now, not worse, to fight this. Apparently, however, it needs a paid relationship in the end to do what its technology can’t. And if that’s the case, then when it comes to web search, where the spam issue is even bigger, will the same thing happen there?

  • Marc Razia

    Its a sad day when folks start equating a company trying to make more money with doing evil.  

  • Marc Razia

    Right because a business trying to continually make more profits is a bad idea.  Really???  This is what we’ve become?  

  • Marc Razia

    That’s about as ridiculous as blaming the Yellow Pages for listing your business phone number.  Not to mention, just as you can have an unlisted business number, you can have your page removed from search.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

    They’ve already made the product feed requirements so complicated in order to weed out spam.  To pay for each click (which looks like what it will be) will just kill off small businesses as a lot of commerce keywords are prohibitively expensive.

    So enjoy browsing those big brands on Google Shopping.  In 3 years, enjoy browsing those big brands on Google search.  Google will just be the playground of big brands.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

     ”Oh please, Google doing this is probably just a way to filter out the spam”

    So there’s no spam on Google Adwords / Adsense?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robsnell Rob Snell

    I’m a retailer, and at first blush I don’t really have a problem with paid inclusion for Froogle Shopping Products Plus or whatever it’s going to be called. 

    A couple of months ago I spent about a month playing with the Google Shopping Feed API, and the data is so bad, it’s practically unusable. A single SKU of ours was so fragmented that Google has the same product listed 6 or 7 different ways, even when requiring retailers to use “unique” identifiers like UPC and manufacturer part numbers. And when I looked up a single UPC code, 27 different retailers had the brand (company/manufacturer) listed at least a dozen different ways. Talk about a bad user experience! It was impossible to compare products.Maybe a cover charge is another way the clean up that cesspool they keep talking about? I’m only half-joking when I say I look forward to the day Google pulls the trigger to be all PPC on page 1. 

  • http://twitter.com/tomblue tomblue

    I agree.  The bottom line is that I am not going to use Google Shopping any more.  That product will suck.  There is a reason why everyone used Google/Altavista instead of Goto.  

    If they would do that with regular search I would no longer use regular search. People can rip on Bing all they want, but it is much better than a GoTo clone.  

  • JamesSB

    No problem making money, but Google is evil.

  • daveintheuk

    No – the problem is they are turning the back on their principles – and not being honest about what they are… they can’t carry on pretending all they care about is user experience and acting like all they care about is $$$.

  • daveintheuk

    You bet it will – and like Places etc, it will be even more agressive… you’ll have to dig hard to find organic results. Google aren’t fools – they know mobile is overtaking desktop so they are  shaving off more of that traffic for themselves.

  • daveintheuk

    Spot on Danny… and a pattern that is repeating with lines being ever more blurred. Google “borrowing” reviews for Places to enable them to establish their product a prime example.

  • pdxuser

    Turning Google Shopping into paid ads in Google searches was forced by other companies that complained that organic product search results were violations of their right to have their web links appear more prominently than Google’s own features. Now that Google Shopping = ads, senators can understand it better, and realize that Google is allowed to place it in their search results. The downside is that some obscure deep discounters I use Google Product Search to find will no longer be there. The upside is that there will apparently be less lying about the price of merchandise, which was fairly common. (The listing would claim an item is $15, but you’d click and find it’s $25.) As a user, though, I’d still prefer the current model. But I suppose the new model isn’t much different than getting listed in Amazon, where you pay Amazon a cut.

  • pdxuser

    Do you think Amazon is evil for “forcing” companies to pay a cut of sales in order to be listed in their shopping site?

  • http://www.rafflecopter.com Greg Goodson

    Haha – I can back that up (you’ve been asking since 2008) :P 

    Wrote this blog post two years ago – I guess I should delete it: 

    http://www.greggoodson.com/2010/05/google-product-search-10-reasons-why-its-great-and-why-it-will-always-be-free/

  • http://twitter.com/StarSearchinng Dave A

    Online only

  • pdxuser

    Having seen an explosion of retailers lying about their prices (eg, a $15 listing that turns to $25 when you click it) and misrepresenting their items (eg, a machine part being listed as the full machine), I can understand why they need to pay a team to review the listings. And as Google has had problems being successful with shopping and payments, I can see why they now need to fully fund the shopping service so they can improve it. I don’t think anyone considers Amazon evil for requiring merchants to pay a cut to be listed. Google’s not evil, either.

    Also, turning Google Shopping results in the main search results into paid ads was forced by other companies that complained that organic product search results were violations of their right to have their web links appear more prominently than Google’s own features. Now that Google Shopping = ads, idiot senators can understand it better, and realize that Google is allowed to place it in their search results

  • Durant Imboden

    Maybe Google was wrong back in 2004. Who knows? The thing to remember is that displaying shopping results has never been Google’s core mission, and paid inclusion for shopping results isn’t a harbinger of paid inclusion for organic search listings.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U2H7S4MG6PLQUVOA2CFNMZ2QUQ Ric Desan

    This is an opportunity to break a stranglehold. I have no compunction avoiding Google for product search and going directly to Amazon, Buy or any other large online e-tailer.

    I never before gave Bing a chance to do search for me, perhaps its time to give it a whirl.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Yes, displaying shopping search results has been Google’s core mission, because Google’s core mission is search. Shopping search is search. That’s why it created a shopping search engine. That’s why, in 2007, it rolled out Universal Search which explicitly was designed to blend results from its vertical search engines, including shopping search, into the “regular” results.

    Given that we’ve had three new search launches using paid inclusion, and now we’ve had a long-standing existing search engine being switched over to it, it’s sure a harbinger that there’s more paid inclusion on the horizon. I agree, as I explained, it’s unlikely for web search. 

    But given how getting to web search can be buried under ads and the new sponsored inclusion boxes — which are likely to grow — that might not be as reassuring as you think.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Prasad-Kongara/100001591732563 Prasad Kongara

    Completely agree with Dubard.

    I think this change will make SERPs better. GPS listings are currently masquerading as organic listings while they clearly are not. GPS listings are slapped on top of the 10 natural listings found by ‘The Algorithm’. By removing GPS links and clearly marking them as Ads, Google is actually cleaning up the SERPs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Prasad-Kongara/100001591732563 Prasad Kongara

    Danny, I don’t understand why you think the proposed change is ‘paid inclusion’. The listings will be clearly marked as ‘Ads’. Paid Inclusions, the way Yahoo did it, you could not tell the difference between a natural result and a paid inclusion.

  • Laney124

    Hmmm, so my client that can’t run ads in Adwords because of the product type (bodybuilding supplements etc.) but does rather well in Google Merchant will likely not be able to use this service either when it starts being managed through Adwords?? Thoughts….

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