Google Product Search Results Will Now Depend On How Much Retailers & Advertisers Pay

Big changes are coming to Google’s shopping business soon, the company announced yesterday, starting with a renaming of Google Product Search to Google Shopping. And unlike now, with a free program where product results appear based on relevance, starting in the fall, results will be influenced by how much retailers and advertisers are paying.

These pay-for-play placement changes are likely to cause quite a ripple in the e-commerce world, notes Reuters. Google has provided merchants with free access to shoppers for about 10 years, making money by running paid product search ads along with the unpaid results. That’s all about to change.

“We are starting to transition Google Product Search in the U.S. to a purely commercial model,” said Sameer Samat, vice president of product management at Google Shopping. “This will give merchants greater control over where their products appear on Google Shopping.”

Retailers are likely to grumble a bit, as they may have to spend around $130 million extra per year in the U.S. and $270 million globally in order to make sure their results show up. But it will help retailers to make their products more visible to shoppers, by reducing the clutter caused by online stores listing a lot of products for free.

In addition, because they’re paying for results, retailers could be prompted to keep their latest offers or products fresh and make sure prices are accurate to snag customers. Which means it might benefit consumers looking to score deals from their favorite retailers, if those retailers are willing to shell out some cash.

The new model will kick in by October, right before the holiday shopping season kicks into full gear.

Google unveils big changes to shopping business [Reuters]