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Google has announced some fairly dramatic steps aimed at reviving Froogle, its shopping comparison service, with a redesign of its user interface and a change of name.

The service now has a much more ‘it does what it says on the tin’ brand – Google Product Search – as well as a front end that the ad giant says will be simpler to use.

Froogle was launched in 2002 amid much fanfare, but Google said its name had caused “confusion” among consumers:

“We were a really young company, and I don't think we really understood the burden of a new brand," Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience told Danny Sullivan.

"I also think it was very hard to build awareness. Our product offering was very robust, but it will fare better with a Google Product Search name."

Google has clearly been experiencing problems with Froogle in recent times – it has been steadily losing traffic and lost its slot on the Google homepage in August last year.

According to Nielsen/Net Ratings, Froogle attracted 5.9m unique visitors from the US in March, down from 8.2m in the same month in 2006.

Figures released by Hitwise following Froogle’s replacement with Google Video on the homepage also show how dramatically each service was affected.

In a post on the Google blog, Mayer said the new interface would make it easier for consumers to use Google Checkout:

“Froogle offers a lot of great functionality and has helped many users find things to buy over the years, but the name caused confusion for some because it doesn't clearly describe what the product does.

“We're taking the opportunity to refocus the user experience on providing the most comprehensive, relevant results in a clean, simple, easy-to-use UI.”

It can be argued that Google's price comparison engine already better serves the end user compared to other sites, since products are listed in ascending order of price, so the most competitive firm is placed at the top of the listings.

Most price comparison sites work on a pay-per-placement basis - the more you pay per click the higher you will be placed in the search results.

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Published 20 April, 2007 by Richard Maven

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