An Update on Google Shopping’s New, Free Listings

May 12, 2020

Digital Marketing Amelia Erskine By Link Walls

Two weeks ago, we reported on Google’s announcement that it would be adding free product listings to the Shopping tab. Now that we are seeing these listings in the wild, we wanted to break down some initial impressions. If you are just getting up to speed on this change, we recommend you start with our initial post about Google’s announcement.

As a reminder, these organic listings show up on the Shopping tab within Google — both on desktop and mobile. In the example below, the paid listings are at the top in a typical carousel format followed by the organic listings. You can tell the difference between them by finding either the “Sponsored” callout (indicating paid listings) versus the “About” callout (indicating organic, free listings). 

What we are seeing is that while some searches are showing results like the screenshot above — a mix of paid and organic listings — others result in all paid listings. And yet some other results are entirely organic listings. Additionally, some searches show organic listings at the top followed by a paid carousel at the bottom of the page.  

We would expect these formats to be fairly dynamic as search results are highly personalised to the user and the search query, as well as the fact that this program is still rolling out. Additionally, as more products get added to the program, it’s highly likely some additional selection will be coming.

What about Buy on Google?

When we use a broad search query, like “running shoes,” we see the same carousel at the top and free listings at the bottom. But in the middle, we see a section for products available via Google Shopping Actions

The Impact

While it’s only been 16 days since this change has been live, we are seeing traffic from these organic listings. The traffic varies by advertiser, but most are seeing free clicks that equate to 4-6% of their existing Google Shopping traffic.  In some cases it is a good bit less, but in others we are seeing 8-9% additional volume. While it’s unclear how much this move has expanded the overall selection of products within Google Shopping, it certainly helps the ROI of existing advertisers.

One thing that stands out in these examples and many others we’ve tried, is that there is a significant overlap between the retailers in the Sponsored section and the organic listings. We would expect that trend to continue in the same way we see it happen on the Search tab. The difference here is that we’re talking about individual products, not websites. So large retailers have the opportunity to show many times, for many specific products. 

From a consumer perspective, this development isn’t necessarily all good. For example, the fact that two of these product listings on the page are the exact same just adds to my confusion as a shopper. It’s like seeing two identical boxes of Cheerios on a shelf only separated by who paid for the placement. Consumers clearly value selection, but at some point, if not presented in an easy to understand fashion, selection can be a deterrent to conversion. We would expect Google to continue to iterate on this in the months to come.

Regardless, brands and retailers should absolutely be participating here. So be sure your Google Shopping feed is of high quality, complete with all your products and accurately reflects things like stock status and price of each item and see how you rank. 

If you’d like to talk to one of our e-commerce consultants about your advertising campaigns and whether you’re making the most of your digital marketing efforts on Google, Amazon or Facebook, request a Complimentary Advertising Analysis today. 

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