This year Google faced a record $2.7 billion fine regarding the recent Google shopping feed fiasco that earned them a place in the EU’s bad books for dominating their own shopping feed and picking up all of the revenue as a result. Google’s total domination of their own shopping feed with their own search results was deemed unfair, as the internet giant did not even allow other search engines or companies the rights to bid on ad spaces. It instead imposed an all-out blanket ban and held on to the shopping spaces exclusively, and receiving the multiple benefits as a result.
Google then appealed this huge fine after arguing previously that consumers expect to be taken directly to the pages where they can buy products, instead of being taken to other online retailers where they may have to repeat searches. This means users may not make the purchase, and conversion rates will drop. Google also mentioned its fierce competition from eBay and Amazon but submitted plans in August to give these rival online shopping services equal treatment for another request made by the EU.
Now that Google has lost out on its appeal, Google is having to make changes to its Google Shopping results procedure in order to comply with the European Commission’s new antitrust ruling. At the end of September, Comparison Shopping Engines/Services (CSEs) such as Kelkoo, Shopzilla and Twenga will be able to run product listing adverts in Google Shopping results as retailers are already doing. The European Commission’s argument was that it wasn’t fair to CSEs to dominate Google’s feed and that it needs to provide “equal treatment” to them in order to comply.
The biggest change is not actually in how the results will be displayed, but who gets to compete for these spots. CSEs and Google Shopping will all compete against each other in order to win spots in the shopping feed, and this could change how Google Shopping looks for the foreseeable future. There’ll be no reserved spots, and all spots will be available to whoever wants to bid on them. As Search Engine Land proposes, this will bring up a myriad of questions; “A good percentage of merchants are likely participating in Google Shopping and at least one or more CSE. The visibility in Google Shopping will now depend, not just on the merchant’s own bid and quality metrics, but on how well it performs for Google Shopping and the CSEs for a given query. Google’s bids will have to make sense for it as a marketer, just as they do for CSEs.”
Ads will appear with the name of the service that has purchased the spot and will link directly to the product on the page. If you were to click on “By Kelkoo” or “By Google”, it takes the user to the product results on the selected search engine. This update will only affect EU countries where Google shopping is available, and with CSEs starting to purchase ads already and gaining revenue, only time will tell how this will affect merchants. Google is also continuing the appeal of the European Commission’s decision, a process that could take several years to fulfil.
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