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Google shopping results now open to all online retailers: Spelling bad news for Amazon

Google is fighting back effectively against Amazon, allowing ALL retailers to list products in organic results

Previously, appearing in Google Shopping results was only available to paid advertisers. This changed as Google will now start showing these results also in organic search. This is a huge win for both Google and retailers:

Google wins by taking back inventory from Amazon and by seducing e-commerce providers with a taste of what it feels like to get more search traffic for their products. This will no doubt lead to better revenues as Google will likely succeed at upselling this to paid Google Shopping campaigns.

Retailers win by breaking away from their over reliance on Amazon – and by getting exposed to Google shopping traffic before actually deciding on a budget allocation.

In the competition for eyeballs, we can expect Google, Facebook and Amazon to step up their attempts to capture market share. It can be predicted that this will adversely affect revenues for Amazon marketing services (AMS) – if enough niche retailers would act on this opportunity.

According to Google there are now three ways to get products into search results:

Via the search console

It is already standard for many companies to use structured data markup to websites, which in enables Google to better understand the products on offer. understands the products they sell. Now, the search console has a new reporting area for ‘Products’ – but this is for sites using schema.org structured data markup which clearly annotates product information.

Using the merchant center

Product data feeds are stored in the merchant center. There are various ways to organize data feeds. Google makes it easy for simple business models to use a spreadsheet – or for more advanced outfits to connect a feed to the merchant center, which is “fetched” regularly. This however, is to be used as part of display advertising when creating Google Shopping campaigns.

The manufacturer center

This is where product manufacturers and brand owners need to be proactive and get onto Google. Missing out on this, means that retailers may take all the credit for products they take to market.  The Google Manufacturer Center. is the place to do all this. Various media types are supported here, which includes product description, variants, and rich content, such as high-quality images and videos that can show on the product’s knowledge panel.

Getting up to speed with the Google landscape will surely pay off:

One of the caveats for very small retailers is that they may see Amazon as a more user-friendly interface. But does this mean that easy is better? Probably not as Google is still the dominant provider of search traffic. Learning to navigate the Google landscape is also quick – and will likely produce good results for those who go the extra mile.

The Advanced Google Ads course from Linkedin Learning teaches you how to use Google Shopping:

Advanced Google Ads (AdWords) by Adriaan Brits

 

How digital marketing and e-commerce teams should respond:

“Product dumps” on Ebay and Amazon used to serve as a useful way to build brand awareness, however Amazon seemed to cut down on the visibility of non-sponsored content, as AMS PPC started to compete with it’s own affiliates. At the same time, many SME’s ran a skeleton version of product inventory on their Google Shopping feed, meaning that the majority of products was not visible – in order to save on their PPC budget.

Now, it is suggested that teams get up to speed with product segmentation in campaign setup, to avoid burning advertising budgets on poor performing products (much of this is configured in a programmatic fashion). Listing as many products as possible in the search console – and ensuring schema.org markup is functioning well, is the most valuable technical upgrade smaller sites can do to catch up with their larger competitors.

Conclusion:

E-commerce providers should hedge themselves with a healthy balance of channels. Google just made a strong case for retailers to come back – and, for the public to change their search behavior, away from Amazon. How successful this will be, is something we’ll evaluate in months to come. Google is again helping smaller players to level the playing field against large businesses with a significant scale advantage.  This is all very encouraging, though there is an the issue we have not touched on: it will probably also help Google to comply with EU competition laws.

 

Adriaan Brits

As an analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment and business. He covers mostly topics related to his qualifications. He is a specialist trainer in Advanced Analytics & Media. He also writes for Jpost.com, BestTechie, CEOWorld Magazine and other media outlets.
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