Consumerist reader Paul was looking for memory card readers on BestBuy.com when he noticed the Ads by Google box in the left-hand margin advertising other websites where card readers and other electronics items could be purchased. Granted, the websites being advertised were not household names, but it’s still reasonable to believe that at least a small number of Best Buy shoppers are being siphoned off.
To test it out, we randomly went to the Dishwasher section of BestBuy.com and saw that the Google ads were not only linking to sites selling dishwashers, two of the three links were to manufacturers’ websites for LG and Kenmore.
Kenmore.com actually allows customers to buy directly, meaning Best Buy could be completely out of the sale, aside from what little per-click revenue it generates through the Google Ad.Meanwhile, the LG website doesn’t allow for direct purchase of dishwashers, but it does provide info on local retailers where the dishwasher could be found, along with websites where the item is available for sale. Best Buy is included in this mix but for the few cents the company has made on the user’s click, it has also revealed to the customer a multitude of other shopping options.
We don’t run ads so we’re not intimately familiar with Google ads, but we do know that sites running these ads can control what sort of links are shown. For example, People.com has Ads by Google boxes but you won’t see links for Us Weekly or Life & Style anywhere.
Sure, Best Buy might make some money off these ads, but they might also be losing customers who never come back to BestBuy.com, having found a better deal elsewhere (thanks to Best Buy).