The elimination of the free Google Product Search is fast approaching. With hefty incentives for the merchants that move over to the new cost-per-click model before August 15 many will be making the move within the next few weeks. However, before companies invest the man-hours and media budget into making the switch, they need to understand the implications.
Firstly, and most importantly, brands will now have to pay for product listings! Don’t freak out just yet. As I mentioned earlier, it will be strictly on a cost-per-click basis, meaning that you do not pay for impressions but only when a consumer clicks on your product listing. Granted, you will get clicks, both accidental and intentional alike, that don’t result in a sale. But, simply having your products listed on these pages brings the potential to spread brand awareness by occupying that real estate in the online space.
Secondly, AdWords. Since Google already has a well-established platform for managing CPC campaigns, merchant center accounts will soon have to be linked with AdWords for daily management. For those of us that already have AdWords accounts, this is simply a manner of linking the two, but those who don’t will have to take the time to create one. This will certainly take some time and good old-fashioned know-how.
Thirdly, linking the product feeds with the AdWords account will give companies what they need to run product ads in Google search results. Especially in the retail environment, having a presence in this space can greatly increase traffic to your site and sales as a result. For companies that already have the necessary requirements in place, it really wouldn’t make sense to not manage these placements.
Lastly, the rankings will likely change since the bid will be included in determining position. This will give the smaller online retailers the opportunity to reach the top of the page and achieve the types of placements that can greatly boost their online performance.
For many, this change is very unwelcomed and will likely cost the major online players a sizeable amount of money. It does, however, have the ability to help level the playing field and give the smaller companies a fighting chance to occupy prime pieces of online real estate. Brands also have to keep in mind that this is in the best interest of the consumer as many retailers have treated their product feeds as a “sit it and forget it” marketing approach. Paying for the placement will keep retailers cognizant of optimizing products and placements of those products.