New "Shopping" platform will charge for listings that were once free.
Retail marketers that have been submitting their product feeds for free via the Google Product Search feature will be paying CPC or CPA bid prices for the same placements before the end of the year. The Mountain View, CA-based digital giant today is announcing its Google Shopping commercial platform, which combines the products ads typically seen at the top of the search page with what Google has called "product universal" results - or free listings based on a retailer's products feed in the system. Google Shopping will be tested and slowly rolled out during the summer and fall months, the company said.
Google believes that merchants will provide better product data feeds under the new paid circumstance, theoretically creating higher quality search results for users.
"We are building an experience that helps merchants big and small connect with and attract more customers," Sameer Samat, VP of product management at Google, told ClickZ. "And one of the best ways we can do that is by creating a more clear and concise way of sharing this information on Google.com. And when they do click through to retailers' sites, they are more likely to convert."
During a Google Shopping test going through summer and into fall, marketers that run Google's Product Listing Ads will participate in a trial highlighted by an ad unit with bigger images than what's previously been seen on the search site.
"We are using bigger pictures of products because we think that helps users understand the results more effectively," Samat said. "Shopping is often very visual."
Compared to the old ads that had a cream-colored overlay, the new ones have a white background, melding more subtly with the rest of the page. The ad unit is marked with "Sponsored" copy in the top right-hand corner.
Among other items revealed on Google's blog on Thursday, the company said it will distribute retailer circulars via the Google Shopper app that's available for iPhone and Android smartphones.
"If you are inside a mall, for example," Samat said, "you will be able to see the local sales promotions that are near you."
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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