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Google Shopping free product listings are making a comeback

In 2002, Google Shopping originally started with free listings only. The shift to purely paid listings was made in 2012. To adapt to the 2020 pandemic and the will to support struggling retailers through the crisis, as well as to better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google – free shopping product listings are making a comeback. The update means that shopping paid, and organic listings will both coexist, with free listings dominating the results – which is what advertisers have been dealing with their PPC activity. This update was released in the US towards the end of April 2020 and will roll out to the UK sometime this year.

What does this mean for your paid activity? The paid listings will be more competitive, yes. But the opportunity to appear on the free listings will be an added value and will need to be taken into consideration when planning activity with your clients. A new range of reporting will be available to measure paid vs organic listings performance to support in strategic decision making.

The importance of a strong shopping feed will be more important than ever. If you are already set up in the Merchant Centre, you won’t need to do anything but ensure your feed is following best practice. If you have been using CSS Feeds – not to worry as this will continue to work alongside the paid ads. The paid listings will appear on the top and bottom of the results mainly in a carousel format. Google is, however, working on releasing new formats to jazz up the Ads.

In an effort to rival with Amazon’s explosive success throughout this crisis, Google will also be launching “Buy on Google” to purchase with Google Pay so consumers won’t need to go directly to the website to finalise their purchase. A few partnerships such as PayPal to facilitate the purchase process and limit fraudulent activity will come into place. Google also partners with e-commerce platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce to make it easier for merchants to manage inventory and products.

Another feature which is available now, useful for any business who will re-open with a click and collect only, is the possibility to opt-in to the “store pickup” feature which will appear at checkout. This is only available on local catalogue Ads for paid listings. Once free listings are rolled out to the UK this will also be applicable.

The rise of organic will most likely have an impact on your paid shopping strategy. It is still early to tell but we might see budgets shift towards PPC activity where we could expect to see our CPCs fluctuate: higher demand for less inventory will mean a price increase.

Additionally, working closely with your SEO team will allow to optimise and enhance the organic results to make sure relevancy and authority remain. The ARM way promotes integration to work towards the full picture rather than siloed, to make sure we all work together to adapt, innovate and achieve our client’s business goals with a competitive edge.

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