In a HUGE move for smaller retailers, Google is rolling out its ‘surfaces across Google’ scheme on a global scale, allowing brands to display their products in free product listings. This should help level the playing field somewhat for smaller brands, as they can increase their exposure and compete with larger brands without the need for marketing budgets.
In a time when physical stores have been shut down indefinitely, digital commerce has never been so crucial. What’s more, as consumers increasingly shop online, they’re searching not just for essentials but also things like toys, apparel, and home goods. While this presents an opportunity for struggling businesses to reconnect with consumers, many cannot afford to do so at scale. Enter Google…
In light of the current situation, Google are advancing their plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google. Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. 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.
For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. If you’ve previously been put off by advertising on Google due to limited budgets, this is a big bonus for your brand.
The feature is currently only live in the US, although Google has been contacting sellers using Merchant Center to let them know that they can opt-in ahead of time, ensuring they’re ready to take advantage when the feature is rolled out in full.
What are the free product listings?
The free product listings will allow retailers to display their products in the Google Shopping tab, completely free of charge. Just as Google doesn’t charge sites to be part of the Google Search index, listings for retailers will be eligible to appear in these results at no cost to them. Paid listings will continue to appear in ad slots and will operate in the same way as Shopping Ads do today.
Is your brand eligible for this free feature?
For new users of Google Merchant Center who are interested in joining this program, it’s open to you today and does not require a Google Ads account. You can opt into surfaces across Google during the Merchant Center sign up process and start creating your product feed.
Retailers who already use Google Ads simply need to opt-in to the ‘surfaces across Google’ program. To opt in, select “Growth” and then “Manage programs” in the left navigation menu and select the “surfaces across Google” program card. You can also add products to your product feed, to make even more products discoverable in these free listings.
Reporting for the free product listings will also be made available in the weeks and months to come. You’ll be able to view your unpaid clicks in the new performance report for surfaces across Google in Merchant Center by selecting “Performance” and then “Dashboard” in the left navigation.
What do these changes mean for retailers?
Google’s President of Commerce, Bill Ready, said: “For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs.
“For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings.”
What DMT think about the free product listings
Lauren, PPC Manager: “This is a great opportunity for all retailers, whether you are currently running ads on Google or not. The opportunity here is additional (and free) traffic to your website – for relevant terms – at the exact moment somebody is searching for a product that you offer. We would 100% recommend the use of this feature and continuing to run Shopping Ads alongside to get you into those premium positions.”
If you’re already using Shopping Ads or Merchant Center, you simply need to opt-in using the steps listed above. If you’re NOT currently advertising on Google, this is definitely worth a look into. Drop us a line if you need help getting started.