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Google introducing new pay-to-play based shopping listings next year

Google's existing Product Search service is set to be supplanted by a new shopping platform based on a pay-to-play business model, according to reports from search engine marketing specialists Hit Search.

News about the central change to Google's shopping interface is still evolving, with an official format refresh roll out unlikely to occur until later in the year. However, early information indicates that the new listings setup will not surface in the UK and Europe until sometimes in 2013.

After the new product placement system touches down, only merchandise from sellers who have paid for the privilege of a Google listing will feature on the search behemoth's site. The potential change would mark the first occasion that Google voided an existing consumer search facility that previously offered listings for free.

Mountain View's vice president of product management for Google Shopping, Sameer Samat, explained that the shift in strategy is designed to benefit users and improve the overall search experience. Google ventures that the change to an all-paid model may help remove some of the fat in its listings category, thereby enabling consumers to quickly connect with the desired data.

"[Google Shopping] is about delivering the best answers for people searching for products and helping connect merchants with the right customers," Mr Samat said.

In turn, Hit Search put forth that the announcement came as little surprise to industry insiders, and than its relative positive/negative impact value could not be measured until early indicators from the US had arrived.

"This is something we have predicted for a long time, and from Google's point of view it will no doubt make financial sense. Luckily UK customers will not be affected until after Christmas next year, so the UK will have to look towards how the mechanism is rolled out in the US before planning for its impact," said Hit Search director Andy Redfern.

In some countries, Google Product Search has already been supplanted by the new moniker, although the swing to paid listings has yet to be introduced. At present, popular products listed on Google Product Search in the UK include everything from Duracell batteries (£3) to ironing boards, microwaves, and Sony camcorders (£197).

Service optimisation notwithstanding, Google certainly has its hands full these days. Recently, it acquired a bumper bundle of new domain names, was raided by South Korean economic regulators, and took its spats with rivals to the EU.

Source: Hit Search