At the end of April 2020, Google announced their shift for the Shopping Search service towards free listings and, since October retailers are able to run free listings in the Shopping tab across the world.
The reasons to introduce free listings are many but predominantly the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has changed since the pandemic started and, making shopping ads free is how Google responded to the combination of the increase in online shopping and the struggles for some businesses that can’t afford to scale. Google seized an opportunity to ride the wave of this shift in consumer behaviour.
What impact does Google's Free Shopping Ads have on listings?
The shift from paid shopping ads to free product listings is designed to increase merchants connections to potential buyers regardless of whether they advertise on Google or not.
Google free shopping ads refers to the Google shopping tab that you find at the top of the search result page. With free listings, bidding is no longer the factor which matters to make your product stand out.
The deciding factor is established upon your product feed, its quality, description and relevance to the potential buyer. This means that the monetary barrier to compete on Google shopping ads are restrained, giving all merchants the opportunity to connect with more customers.
Small and medium-sized businesses that relied on organic search for retail, as well as, physical stores compelled to have an online presence are the ones that profit the most from this increase in engagement.
If you currently have active paid shopping ads you will not be affected, however, it’s advisable to incorporate free products listings to increase your awareness. In order to do so you’ll have to opt-in to the “surfaces across Google” infrastructure in your Merchant Center.
How does Google Free Shopping Ads look?
It is important to keep in mind that paid shopping ads still exist and the free shopping ads is a complementary organic listing. The shopping tab layout consists of paid shopping ads at the top followed by organic free listings.
How can you benefit from Google's Free Shopping Ads?
Using Google's own words the benefits are various, “For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings.” (source)
How to make your products stand out on Google's Free Shopping Ads
Whilst the free product listing gives your businesses a chance to connect to potential customers, it also increases the demand, meaning more competition among merchants in the shopping tab. Therefore, in order to stand out in a red ocean it’s crucial that your listing is well structured and your product feed optimized.
All listings on Google are dependent on the product feed uploaded to your Merchant Center, which must meet Googles product data specifications. However, just meeting the specifications won't get you ahead of the competition.
For businesses to increase their visibility they need to provide well structured and high quality product information this is key to provide a good experience for your potential customers. To do so you need the right tool for the job: WiseMetrics.
The WiseMetrics platform analyses any feed and provides thorough analytics and recommendations on how you can improve your product listings for Google and other sales platforms.
Want to test the quality of your product feed?
By simply providing your shopping feed WiseMetrics can analyse it and provide you with actionable recommendations in a few seconds.
Need help finding your feed URL? Take a look at our guide that shows you how to find your product feed.