Last year, Bonanza initiated a bold move to allow its sellers to specify if they wanted the marketplace to buy Google Shopping ads on their behalves.
The 6-month-old advertising program has worked well so far, says Mark Dorsey, the self-described “director of happiness” and co-founder of Bonanza.
“Any time you can create a win-win scenario, you are destined for success,” he adds.
Before Google Shopping
When Bonanza first launched its marketplace in 2008, it took full advantage of Google’s budding free Google Product Search. In fact, Bonanza was one of the system’s largest item providers, says Bonanza founder Bill Harding in this blog post.
As time went on, marketplaces like Amazon and Nordstrom submitted more products to Google Product Search, leaving Bonanza in the dust.When Bonanza first launched its marketplace, it took full advantage of Google’s budding free Google Product Search. In fact, Bonanza was one of the system’s largest item providers
In September 2012, Google ended the free Product Search service in exchange for a pay-per-click advertising program called Google Shopping.
Harding predicted the move would either further decrease Bonanza’s traffic and weed out smaller merchants, or alternate search engines like Bing and TheFind would outperform the shopping search platform.
In an effort to stay in synch with the evolving advertising venues, Bonanza added several commission options to its already existing 3.5-percent commission, allowing merchants to essentially buy advertising space on Google Shopping. Bonanza also included the ability for merchants to add their listings to eBay, but that’s a whole other topic.
Advertising on Google Shopping
Members on Bonanza can opt to retain the original 3.5-percent commission rate the marketplace charges for sales and receive no extra advertising, or they can choose which maximum commission rate they’re willing to pay for ads on Google Shopping.
What that means is you tell Bonanza how much more of a commission you will pay it in exchange for its services to place your products in Google Shopping results.
The whiz kids over at Bonanza will take your bid and determine how much advertising they can buy for you at your chosen rate. Bonanza repeatedly promises it has the math figured out, such that it may even be able to get your stuff advertised for less than the commission rate you committed to.
Commission rate options are 6 percent, 9 percent, 13 percent and 17 percent. Generally, Bonanza recommends the 9-percent maximum rate for good advertising coverage, but higher rates equal higher page views.Bonanza repeatedly promises it has the math figured out, such that it may even be able to get your stuff advertised for less than the commission rate you committed to
Every time your Bonanza Google Shopping ad is clicked, Bonanza keeps track of the count so you can see just how much traffic your ads are generating. You can also pay a monthly membership fee to further track customers with Google Analytics and access a bunch of other seller tools Bonanza offers.
Members pay no upfront fees to Bonanza to have their items published on Google Shopping, Dorsey notes. Once an item sells, Bonanza charges a commission based on what the seller selected.
“So, in effect, sellers can select an advertising budget that works best for them and—best of all—they do not pay for that advertising until their item sells via that specific channel,” he adds.
If your product never sells, then Bonanza will cover the tab.
Are sellers using the new ads?
While Bonanza reports the new advertising program has been adopted by a large percentage of its sellers, officials could not provide a number as to how many merchants are using the program, or how much traffic has increased since its debut.
Anna Espinoza, ILoveRecycling2 on the site, has been selling online since 2006 and started with Bonanza in 2009. Like many successful sellers who got their start by listing outgrown items from around the home, Espinoza now lists more than 4,000 products.
She was not thrilled when she first heard about the change in Google Product Search, she says.
“It was a free service, and now sellers had to pay in order to have their listings appear in Google Shopping,” Espinoza says.
It was also hard to trust, much less understand, the algorithm that would be used to rank Google listings, she adds.“I feel like Google Shopping ads are a necessary investment since Google is the most used search engine”
Nevertheless, Espinoza opted to pay a higher commission fee to have her listings advertised in Google Shopping.
Her observations so far have been that her sales volume remains the same, but she believes it would have decreased drastically if she did not participate.
“I feel like Google Shopping ads are a necessary investment since Google is the most used search engine,” the seller notes.
Twice since the inception of paying for Google ads, listings for ILoveRecycling2 have been dropped off the search engine. Espinoza doesn’t always understand the reason for this, but she believes it has to do with the fact that she sells a lot of items that don’t have UPC, MPN or ISBN numbers. To combat this problem, she has to apply to Google for exemptions from these details.
It has taken a few days for Bonanza to fix these drop-offs, which, for Espinoza, required just a refresh of her Google feeds, she says.
“The Bonanza-Google Shopping process isn’t perfect yet and is still a work in progress,” Espinoza notes.
Are you paying for Google Shopping ads? What has your experience been like?