Why understanding Google Shopping should be your number one priority

I bet you often read about changes to Google’s search algorithm to see how this will affect your campaign and maybe you spend hours researching RTB platforms to see which is the most effective. If you are a digital retail marketer I’m going to simplify things for you. Understanding Google Shopping should be your number one priority right now.

In our portfolio of online retailers, we are seeing in 80 per cent of cases, Google Shopping campaigns outperforming traditional Adwords activity.

So what is Google Shopping? Simply put, it is the latest evolution of Google’s Product Search, or even more simply ecommerce ads that contain images alongside product descriptions, formerly known as ‘Product Listing Ads’. It allows people to find products and compare prices between different online merchants. The algorithm that supports this paid for model also factors in feed quality and structure, allowing merchants to influence the listings using SEO techniques, which makes it all the more interesting.

All of a sudden, Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is resembling a marktplace, not dissimilar to Amazon.

If a company understands how to get the most out of Google Shopping, it can provide one of the most impressive ROIs across all product advertising. In 2013, almost 6bn searches were made on Google every day and online sales hit the £100bn mark in the UK. With the SEO and PPC support on Google Shopping, merchants have great opportunity to position their products prominently and drive traffic to their site.

Search behaviour on each of Google’s services is fairly consistent. If you appear on the first page of a search, you are much more likely to get noticed and when this impacts a multi-billion pound industry, it becomes apparent just how important it is to be high on these listings.

From Google’s perspective, Shopping works well for a number of reasons. One of which concerns the overall user experience. Since 2001, Google has been gearing towards a universal search goal where each of its search products such as images, videos or news, will be featured on its main search page. With Shopping, product searches are featured on the main search page even if they don’t include commerce trigger words such as “for sale” or “buy”.

With the paid for model, Google’s revenue naturally increased, which led to its share prices going up. It’s pretty obvious that if a company has a service that’s making money then its investors will be excited. And when investors are excited about a Google product, the search giant will continue to invest and develop it.

eBay, a company who was one of the largest spenders on AdWords, is now the second biggest PLA advertiser, buying about 6% of all PLAs. That’s not a trivial amount of spend, as companies frequently spend millions of pounds per month on search ads. Google’s revenues from PLAs increased by more than 250 per cent in 2013 (and with it their share price).

Shopping is just the first of what we expect to be a multiple feed based platforms launched by Google, whereby their customer’s data heavy feed enables smart decision making in terms of what to show and how much to bid to allow products or services to appear.

Retail marketers aren’t the only companies that should take note of Google Shopping. As a result of its success you can bet that Google is looking at how to replicate this model on other sectors. They’ve already started it with Google Hotels. So what’s next? Google Travel? Google Utilities? Anything is possible. But other industries should be ready to react to the inevitability of new products.

Online spend will increase and Google Shopping will continue to have an influence on where this money is spent. Retail marketers that make an active effort to prioritise Google Shopping will gain a strong advantage over their competitors.

And remember, on Shopping or wherever else it may end up, its all about the feed.

Luke Smith, Founder and CEO of Croud

Image: Google via Shutterstock