- November 1, 2013
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The eCommerce environment in Ireland is set for a shake up in 2014 as Google plans to introduce its shopping comparison product, imaginatively titled Google Shopping, to the market. The product has been available in the US and the UK for the last number of years as a free product – but has since changed into a pay to play model in the last 18 months. The paid inclusion model is set to be introduced globally to the smaller markets, including Ireland, early next year.
What’s going to change?
When a user searches in Google for a product they will no longer have to leave the Google results page onto a merchant’s site to see a product. Instead, through the use of image ads the user will see several different merchants’ offers on the Google search pages, which if clicked on, will take them to the merchant’s site where the full product detail can be viewed and a transaction completed if so desired.1. The Google Search Pages – Product Listing Ads
The changes in the search results are significant, compare the two images below – the first the search results on Google.ie for “red dresses”...
...and the second the results in Google.co.uk for the same search term.
I think you’ll agree that the Google UK search results, with the product images on the right is far more visually appealing and striking then the Irish search results. This means that searchers are far more likely to engage with these image ads – known as Product Listing Ads.2. Google Shopping Tab and Google Shopping Search Vertical
Underneath the Google Search Box a searcher can now click into the Shopping Tab – and set the full Google shopping experience – see below:
From within this vertical users can refine their searches based on any of the criteria specified in the data feed (discussed below) that the merchant has submitted, for example, price, size, colour or style.
How Does it Work?
Here is a quick description of how it works.
- A Retailer creates a Google Merchant Centre Account
- They upload a data feed containing product attributes such as condition, price, availability, size, colour, a product image and the URL of the product on their site
- The Merchant Centre Account is then linked to a Google Adwords account whereupon bids can be placed on the products that the retailer wishes to appear on the results page.
Will it Matter in Ireland?
In a word – YES! Since the inception of the paid program of Product Listing Ads and Google Shopping the offering has outperformed every other comparison shopping engine in all the crucial eCommerce KPI’s. Figures from the CPC Strategy Comparison Shopping Report shows that Product Listing Ads continue to outperform the competition in terms of delivering the most traffic and revenue at the lowest CPC and CPA.Wow – Is this really the best thing since slice pan?
In my own experience of managing both the free and paid versions of Google Shopping and Product Listing Ads in the UK market there is huge potential for eCommerce companies to drive sales and traffic to a site at a lower Cost per Click then traditional text based PPC ads – but not without some challenges.
The main challenges arise from a certain degree of loss of control. Google, rather than you, decides what search terms your product ads appear for – this is a big change of mind set for PPC marketers who are used to specifying what keywords they want to show up for.Here are some of the main points to bear in mind when starting up with Product Listing Ads:
- Setting up of the Data File – Initially the product data file has to be created according to Google’s structured guidelines. This is a time intensive operation but crucial to the success of the whole venture as a well optimised data feed from the offset makes future management so much easier, and gives you greater control over your spend on this platform.
- Ongoing Data Feed Management – Google loves fresh data, and wants your Merchant centre feed to reflect what is on your website. That means when you change prices or something does out of stock that your feed is updated. Failure to do so may lead to the suspension of your merchant centre account. There are two options of updating your feed, manual uploads or automatically, using FTP files. If your website product content changes regularly – then automatic updates are highly recommended as the manual option is very labour intensive.
- Targeting – there are many ways of targeting your feeds in Adwords to make sure that you are getting the best return on investment for your ad spend. Regular testing and optimisation are highly recommended as there is a fine line between success and mediocrity.
- Negative Keywords – although you cannot control the keywords that your ads appear for, you can specify what words they don’t appear for. Building out a relevant keyword list initially will save a lot of wastage in the account from the start – and regularly reviewing your search queries and adding to your negative keyword list will also help.
I would say that you have to go for it if you want to compete in the eCommerce space nationally. This is not a new product – it’s been tried and tested in the UK and US markets for over 18 months and the results are very impressive. A greater portion of digital spend is being spent on this ad format for eCommerce product sellers in those markets every quarter. You will be at the leading edge, not the bleeding edge.
If you want to get a head start on the competition then start thinking about it now. If you are ready to hit the ground running when this launches then you will get a significant drop on late adopters – with much lower CPC’s and CPA’s then when the space gets more crowded as it inevitably will when the others realise they are getting left behind. Don’t be afraid to get in touch if you have any questions or queries on the above piece.
If you or your business require help setting up Google Shopping and Product Listing Ads, contact the Radical Search Team on firstname.lastname@example.org