Google Shopping Now Showing More Free Product Listings

In late April 2020, an interesting change rolled out across Google: The search giant opened their Shopping results page to show more unpaid, organic listings in the US. As opposed to the paid and coveted spots, where Shopping advertisers often compete, the Shopping tab now consists primarily of free product listings. This change does not affect the Google search results page and the change has only occurred on the Google Shopping page, with plans to roll out globally in the coming weeks. Paid Shopping ads will still appear at the top and bottom of the Google Shopping tab and experiments will continue with Showcase Shopping ads and other layout experiments often tested by Google.

The change is inherently caused by the coronavirus pandemic and is Google’s response to helping e-commerce businesses stay afloat without depending on only paid listings. Like the $340 million dollars in Google advertising credits that Google is giving to SMBs over the coming months, this new change is working to help support the underdogs whose businesses are suffering the most in this economy.

The requirements to show your free shopping listing on Google’s Shopping Results page are as follows:

  • Must have a Google Merchant Center
  • Must have a feed in Google Merchant Center (aim to get it as error-free as possible, ensuring that you include all available inventory)
  • Be opted into “Surfaces Across Google” in your Google Merchant Center

A point of contention with this new program is that advertisers may lose some share of voice if they had high bids in their Shopping campaigns and were paying for spots that are no longer available. A good idea over the coming weeks is to monitor key metrics for your Google Shopping campaigns, as well as results from the Surfaces Across Google program. You’ll want to pay special attention to leading indicators like impression share and CTRs, though your conversions, revenue and ROAS are still the most important.

As for advertisers wondering if they should pull out of Google Shopping ads altogether: our answer is no, as long as you have optimized Shopping campaigns and are seeing results. Instead, you’ll want to use this new feature to showcase your organic listings for free, however, continuing to pay for ads is the best way to be sure you are getting top placements. Remember, with paid Shopping campaigns, you can also be layering audience data as well, so you have much more control over whose searches trigger your ads (past purchasers, site visitors, etc.), an important element if you’re being strategic about certain products or product categories. Additionally, you can be sure than many advertisers will be using this new feature to get free listings and competition will be greater than ever as retailers work to move inventory.

Have questions about your Google Shopping ads? We’d love to help. Drop us a comment below or give us a call.

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