On 21 April 2020 Google announced that it is giving away free real estate to sellers on its Shopping tab.
You heard that right. Merchants will actually be able to list products on Google for free — although that free space is only confined to the Google Shopping tab.
Bill Ready, president of Google’s commerce division, made the announcement in a blog post, indicating that the development is intended to help both sellers and consumers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, where supply and demand challenges are affecting everyone.
“Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free product listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google,” said Ready. “With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online.”
The changes will take effect in the U.S. before the end of April, with global expansion by the end of the year.
While this is certainly good news for many merchants struggling to reach new consumers, the overwhelming majority of consumer traffic is still driven by Google Search and Google Ads within the main search tab. (Ironically, Google used to highlight products for free through an early program called Froogle, but switched to purely paid ads in 2012.)
Ready indicated that the addition of free product listings in the Shopping tab was already part of Google’s roadmap, saying that the current COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the rollout timeline.
It’s too early to predict exactly what this iteration will ultimately look like, but it’s a natural step for Google to take in its ongoing competition with Amazon. A couple years ago, the search giant unveiled Google Shopping Actions, the transactional program that streamlines product discovery across multiple Google properties — such as Search, Shopping and Assistant — and allows consumers to purchase products on Google through stored payment information without leaving the site. Much like a marketplace… much like Amazon. This step appears aimed at broadening the selection on Google Shopping, which is another key element to Amazon’s success.
Google’s marketplace was originally called Google Express, but last spring, Google fully merged the whole program into Google Shopping.
If you already use Google Merchant Centre and Shopping Ads in the US, you’re already eligible for the free listings and don’t have to take any additional action.
We’ll post updates as we learn more. If you have any questions about this announcement, please reach out to your Account Manager or visit ChannelAdvisor Community. If you’re not a ChannelAdvisor customer but are interested in having one of our digital marketing experts give you a Complimentary Advertising Analysis, just fill out the short form and we’ll be in touch.