**Clarification – we just heard from a Google spokesperson. They informed us
that the screenshots are actually NOT the Google Products Ads test, the experiment
has not started yet. This is some other experiment. It will be interesting to see what the official ‘Google Product Ads test’ looks like.
It’s always fun to stumble across a Google test. Phillip Lennsen over at Google Blogoscoped posted today about a new Product Ads feature in the Google Affiliate Network, so this may be part of the testing for that. The screen shot below shows two sets of shopping results on a standard Google SERP for “crocs mammoth.” The lower shopping result set is the often seen “one box” area powered by Google Product Search feeds, but the upper set is something we haven’t seen before.
The first two links go directly to Shopping.com. The last goes to Campmor but it is a Shopping.com network link. It’s hard to know for sure if this is unique to Shopping.com at this time or if more
searches would eventually result in content from other sites, but about
a dozen queries yielded nothing but Shopping.com links. Some went to
Shopping.com product pages while others went directly to the
advertiser’s site, including Amazon and eBay.
Several things are confusing about this. It’s almost as if Google has become part of Shopping.com’s partner network, but if this is in fact Product Ads testing, it’s possible they just selected Shopping.com as a test partner. Either of these is a little puzzling considering past tensions between Google and eBay (Shopping.com’s parent company). Aside from the fact that Google and eBay historically don’t play nice, why would Google insert a second set of product data instead of working to monetize Google Product Search? Maybe they’ll replace the one box with this product set? How is this better for users than Google Product Search content? How can merchants optimise a single data feed for both Google Product Search and Google Affiliate Network considering they likely use different algorithms and may be directly competing for SERP real estate? Curious to say the least.
I’m also not sure what impact this will have on merchant’s Shopping.com experience in the short term. If this continues/expands, traffic could ramp up significantly. Google Product Search conversion rates are generally good, so hopefully that would carry over to the direct links to retail sites, but I wonder how users will react to going from Google results (at the very top of the page in some cases) to Shopping.com, and then through to the merchant (or not).
Some of the links we found go to a page where we have a tracked item live so we’ll keep an eye out to see if traffic changes significantly for those items.
Some other screen shots (a little grainy unfortunately):