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Google to End Product Search

Free service for merchants will move to a paid model, renamed Google Shopping.

Google Product Search drives a lot of traffic to online listings, but starting in October, that traffic will cost sellers, as the program moves to a “commercial model.”

Sameer Samat, vice president of Product Management at Google Shopping, announced Thursday that Google will retire its free Product Search service. Millions of people use this service to get their product listings in Google search results.

In its place, Google will debut Google Shopping, a service that will be based on Product Listing Ads. These are AdWords ads that “include product-rich information such as product image, price and merchant name,” according to Google.

Once changes take effect, merchants will bid for placement of their products on Google and Google Shopping boxes, which will appear near the top of search results, as shown in a snapshot Google shared. Merchants will pay based on the number of clicks their ads get, or on a cost-per-acquisition basis, Google explains. Rankings in Google Shopping will depend on relevance of search terms and bid price.
Sellers may see sales ‘disappear unless they decide to pay’

In a blog announcing the change, Samat writes that the move to a paid model for users in the U.S. will benefit both buyers and sellers.

“We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date,” he notes. “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.”

However, the change could affect Amazon and eBay listings since the sites—or its sellers—may now have to pay to have items included in Google Shopping, according to Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor.

Wingo notes that Google Product Search drives a lot of traffic to both sites and that, overall, the service results in $650 million in annual sales in the U.S., and more than $1 billion around the world. Now sellers may see sales “disappear unless they decide to pay,” he tells Reuters.

Meanwhile, eBay’s head of Internet marketing, Robert Chatwani, said:

“We are evaluating the impact of today’s announcement, but we also plan to fully participate in the new Google Shopping offering, and continue to harness the power of Google’s ad offerings on behalf of our sellers and merchants.”

Independent merchants who submit free Google product feeds to bring traffic to their websites will also be affected.

“I feel in panic mode,” says Auctiva Commerce merchant Carolinabluelady, in a community forum post. “I certainly can’t afford to advertise like the ‘big’ guys.”

Google is offering incentives for merchants to transition to Google Shopping. Sellers who create Product Listing Ads by Aug. 15 will get a monthly 10-percent credit for what they spend on Product Listing Ads for the rest of the year, Samat notes in his post.

He adds that sellers using Google Product Search can also get a $100 AdWords credit toward Product Listing Ads if they create them by Aug. 15.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Google is not free what is auctiva sellers doing about selling there items will auctiva help us sellers who have a Website help the sellers to promote their websites to bring us sales. 
     
    I am selling on auctiva almost from the middle of the beginning.  Today it is almost standing on its feet it has brought in some extra funds to help support our family.   Now Google has come along and given me a kick in the pants.  I am worried how this will all play our surly I cannot afford to pay per click that will take away the tiny profit I am able to make.  My profit margin is not very big and my tax accountant calls my business a joke when it comes to my bottom line with all these cost and fees I am paying out.  
     
    I am hoping that Auctiva can come up with a plan to help bring buyers to our websites.  From what I am reading Ebay and Amazon will be paying the fees to Google to help the ebay sellers make their sales.  So I am hoping Auctiva will follow suit.
     
    Anyone knows how this will all pay out?
     
    I would love to know what the sellers are planning to do and how to at least being able to hold on to the sales that is happening on Auctiva.
     
    If you want to give me some ideas and some sort of direction Please contacts me my email address is toysbyrena@gmail.com I am open to some suggestions.  I am worried. Rena

  • That’s a big let down.  As an owner of a small online business, Google’s free product search has been a big part of the business.  Currently my markups are so low that CPC is not beneficial to me.  Being a small business is hard enough, now my company will have to compete with the big companies who have plenty of money for advertising.  

    Other small businesses were relying on Google’s free model to drive sales to their store and after this these small companies will start to disappear.  

    Hopefully Google will realize that a lot of smaller operations cannot compete in the CPC model and help the small corps out.  What a bummer

  • Anonymous

    For small retail businesses with revenues less than a million this is a big blow.  Google shopping provided a level playing field for big and small retailers to compete.  No more.  Of course, no way is eBay going to ‘absorb’ these additional advertising costs, so every eBay seller should expect to see higher fees this Fall.  This comes at the beginning of the traditional buying season, when most retailers can finally move from being in the red to being in the black.  But, with margins already being so tight, I think far fewer of us will be turning a profit at year end or at best making enough to make it worthwhile to stay in business.  Who wants to work hard for peanuts especially when the cost of living is skyrocketing?  What really makes it frustrating is that all the breaks go to big business and with Republicans pushing their laissez faire policies that favor big business, it is only going to get worse for small businesses.   Those of you supporting unfettered capitalism, deregulation and huge tax breaks for big business, be prepared to cut off your nose to spite your face when you vote in November.



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