Google are continuing to tweak their Adwords offering, forcing up the bidding process for those hoping to sell products. The latest refinement can push a single product into view rather than the grids or multi-retailer listings we’re used to seeing.
Much has already been written of the policy reversal to charge for these listings that have historically been free. As usual the godfather of SEO, Danny Sullivan says it best:
Google once felt so strongly that this was a bad practice that when it went public in 2004, it called paid inclusion evil, producing listings that would be of poor relevancy and biased.
Sullivan points out that Google said at the time, “our users can browse product categories or conduct product searches with confidence that the results we provide are relevant and unbiased.” Isn’t this the ultimate freemium model: get us all hooked on free Google traffic, then charge for it when we can’t afford to walk away? (I still say this is on the drawing board for Facebook brand pages but that’s another post.)
Google also reversed their policy of not placing ads on their homepage. Although, with so many of us Googling without actually hitting their homepage first (by browser address bars, Firefox search bar, etc.) I rather think this won’t cause the mass outrage it once might have. In 2005 their head of search, Marissa Mayer (now CEO @Yahoo!) said, “There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever.”
If you look forward from their paid inclusion model for shopping search and their selling of space on their homepage I think you end up at an ever more direct selling philosophy.
Google has always claimed not to be in the content business. Then it started harvesting data and showing us content. Search for “weather,” go ahead, I’ll wait. You get the forecast for your location. Same for cinema. Search Liverpool FC or Chelsea FC and you get their latest results.
The net effect of all this harvesting is you – apparently – get your results quicker than clicking away from Google and following that blue link to sites that exist to give you that information. But it also means they are keeping you in front of their ads for longer.
The natural extension of these thoughts/observations is that you will actually purchase at the advertised listing. They show you the product, the price, and the retailer so why would you need to actually go to the particular site? They’ll follow the weather information logic that the transaction (of data/information/product) needs to be as quick as possible and transferred on Google’s real estate, not yours.
So you’ll be logging in to Google (you have a Google account, right?) and they’ll give you access to Google Wallet so you don’t need to grab your plastic when you see things.
Perfect for mobile. Perfect for offers. Perfect for Google Glass (wink twice to shop for an item when you see it in a store window?). Even more perfect for Google’s commissions. I’m predicting we’ll see Google shopping offer a pay per acquisition model in a year or so for US trials and then in Europe six months after. That’ll see them take a solid percentage of the sale they ‘pass’ to you compared to the relatively small charges they recoup on the current pay per click model.
What about you? Where do you see all these changes ending up?