As many eCommerce companies are putting the finishing touches on their holiday sales strategies, Google unveils a potentially disruptive ad format: advertiser neutral category listings for popular brands.
Current Ads Drive Traffic To Retailer Sites
Presently, when a user searches for a product through Google, the search giant will display an ad with
popular models of that product, and under each listing will be a listing of where that item is available for purchase. When the customer clicks on the item they want, it will redirect them to the product page on the retailer’s site.
For example, if someone searched for Coffee Grinders, they would see an advertisement similar to this one appear on the right side of your search results. If you clicked on the ad for the Black & Decker grinder, it would take you to the page on Wal-mart.com because they won the bid for that display spot.
Under the new format, if someone searched for a particular brand (such as “Black And Decker Coffee Grinder” Google could show a new format. Instead of listing Specific models with links to the winning bid retailers, shoppers will instead be presented with a static image. Clicking on that image will not take you to the top bid retailer. Instead, you’ll be redirected to a Google Shopping page.
What This Means For Retailers
Currently, Google paid product listings provide a large, visible focus point for potential customers, and a direct link to that product page. While users could click on the “Shop for coffee grinders on Google,” they were more likely to click on the grinder that appealed to them visually or because of the cost displayed.
If the user clicks on the new ad format, they’re taken into Google shopping, where they can sort results by review, brand, location, and price. While this could be positive from a user perspective, it means that the the money invested by an eCommerce company in winning a paid product listing bid might be wasted if that user enters Google shopping instead and sorts on reviews or location.
While the new format appears to be limited only to selected brands and random users, if Google rolls this out to additional users, it could force retailers to adopt new sales strategies during the busiest sales season of the year. Unlike natural search engine listings, to have a product appear in Google Shopper, an eCommerce site has to pay the search giant, which can potentially make it difficult for new companies to enter already competitive markets.