Marc Warren, managing director of PPC agency, Periscopix.
Google’s Shopping results will follow the US lead and begin the transition to becoming a paid-for service, from February 2013. By the end of Q2 next year, if retailers want their products to show up in Google Shopping results, they will need to create a Product Listing Ad (done within AdWords or the Google Merchant Centre), and set bidding strategy in the same way they do with AdWords.
Google Shopping’s announcement on Thursday shouldn’t come as a surprise to retailers – the transition was completed in the US on 17 October this year – and there’s plenty of time for retailers to get ready. The first commercial formats will appear in February, but it’s worth getting ready now: companies who are set to go now will have a competitive advantage if Google tests the system or offers promotions ahead of the full launch in Feburary.
In the announcement, Google talks about offering incentives to early adopters. I imagine these will be similar to those offered in the US, which were AdWords credits and discounts on Product Listing Ads – and they are worth having.
What should retailers do now?
- Sign up for Product Listing Ads (you need an AdWords account and a Merchant Centre Account to do this). Companies who do this now will have a competitive advantage if Google tests the system or offers promotions ahead of full launch in February.
- Make sure your product feeds are working efficiently, and not showing things like out of stock products, or sizes with no availability on your site. You don’t want to run out of stock that’s still showing in your feeds; you’ll end up paying for clicks from potential customers who can’t buy what they saw in your Product Listing Ad. If your product feeds work properly to link your ad to your inventory, you’ll only advertise products that are in stock. If you’re running low on stock, decide at what level you should pause your product ads, or change the ad copy to reflect the limited availability. If there’s work that needs to be done on your feeds, get it done before you have to pay for the clicks.
- Plan your bidding strategy and targets in advance. The new system will show results based on both relevance and bids, so apply the same level of thought to your approach to bidding on Product Listing Ads as you do to other PPC ads.
- Optimise the landing pages on your site. Now you’re paying for clicks from the shopping pages, make sure that each user lands directly on the product page they can buy from. Make it as easy as possible to convert; these are people who are actively looking to shop.
- Optimise your product names and images. Make sure your full product name shows up in the ad. For example, if you’re selling luxury king-size bed linen, make sure the word ‘linen’ is clear in the ad – otherwise you’ll pay for clicks from people who want to buy a king-sized bed.
- And finally, keep an eye on Google’s Shopping page for updates, information and incentives ahead of launch.