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Google To Require Retailers To Pay To Be In Google Shopping Results 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the search-neutrality-in-action dept.
gambit3 writes "In a move to squeeze more cash out of its lucrative Web-search engine, Google is converting its free product-search service into a paid one. Online retailers will now have to bid to display their products on Google's Shopping site. Currently, retailers include their products for free by providing Google with certain data about the products. Google then ranks those products, such as cameras, by popularity and price. 'We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality data—whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability—should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.'"
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Google To Require Retailers To Pay To Be In Google Shopping Results

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  • by raydobbs (99133) on Friday June 01, 2012 @04:39PM (#40185471) Homepage Journal

    Well, that was a slightly useful tool when it worked... not so much now. Now I will just get a listing of who paid to be there, and who are sure to keep their prices fixed to one another.

    • Yes indeed. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by game kid (805301) on Friday June 01, 2012 @04:43PM (#40185561) Homepage

      "Paid" does not imply "higher quality"; in search listings, it's quite the contrary.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Not paying doesn't mean higher quality either.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        And if you're shopping for the best price, the retailers with the lowest margins are not necessarily going to be paying to be on Google shopping because that'll eat into they're margins.

        I actually see Amazon not paying google.

        • It's really a shame... I will often use google to search for products, though typically favor Amazon, Newegg and a handful of other sellers for products.
          • what i would like to see is a way to disable E-Bay and other auction sites when im looking for something.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Widowwolf (779548)
              When searching for a product such as lets say crucial memory, just type Crucial Memory -ebay...
            • by rtb61 (674572)

              If you register with Google they have a blocked search site list for up to 500 blocks, to filter out content from particular sites you might be sick of seeing.

              This pay for listing, is really bid to bullshit, the highest bidder get the best bullshit to feed to the end user. A higher listing on price performance than reality reality would provide. Basically Google is doing nothing but selling end user trust and gullibility, precisely how Alta Vista screwed itself as a search engine.

            • by mrmeval (662166)

              Add -site:ebay.com for now this still works but they'd taken away almost every other useful decrapping filter.

              http://www.google.com/search?q=crucial%20memory%20-site%3Aebay.com [google.com]

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          And if you're shopping for the best price, the retailers with the lowest margins are not necessarily going to be paying to be on Google shopping because that'll eat into they're margins.

          I actually see Amazon not paying google.

          Nothing wrong with that. I'd probably buy from Amazon even if Amazon's prices are higher - given a choice between Amazon and some shady site, I'd go Amazon every time.

          That's the problem with price comparison sites - either you go lowest price and hope the site is legit, or you go with

          • by alen (225700)

            no sh1t

            half the shady retailers are NYC shady electronics stores that my parents told me to avoid since the 80's. they are always "going out of business", sell grey market stuff and you never know if its really new

          • by asdf7890 (1518587)

            Nothing wrong with that. I'd probably buy from Amazon even if Amazon's prices are higher - given a choice between Amazon and some shady site, I'd go Amazon every time.

            This is a problem I have with Amazon's saerch engine: I can't ask it to show me only stuff coming from Amazon itself. If I want to search everyone, I'll use a general search (like Google's currently is, but going by this story soon won't be). If I'm searching on your site Amazon, I'm searching for stuff you can sell me. If I wanted to by from someone entirely more random I'd search with Google/whatever or, gods forbid, eBay. Maybe some people find the current search useful, but please make "searching for pr

      • by ewieling (90662)

        "Paid" does not imply "higher quality"; in search listings, it's quite the contrary.

        Are you saying that as a retailer you will pay to have products listed which you no longer sell? From my reading of the summary, preventing that issue is the stated intention of the change.

        • Re:Yes indeed. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nabsltd (1313397) on Friday June 01, 2012 @09:27PM (#40189863)

          Are you saying that as a retailer you will pay to have products listed which you no longer sell?

          Scammer's might.

          Right now, Google Shopping results hit a lot of places that either have much higher prices once you get to the site, don't have the item in stock (but will "order it" if you pay them first), or have other shady practices (not giving Google the correct shipping costs, price is only good for wholesale volume, etc.).

          Depending on the cost, some of those places might pay Google to keep them in the listing. Other, more reputable stores might have to either increase prices or drop off the Google list. So, it would appear that this change might lead to worse overall results.

          The solution to this is to allow users to mark results as good or bad, and use that as part of the sorting algorithm, but Google hasn't ever had anything like that for shopping results.

      • Search listings that should be prioritized by popularity and relevance will be heavily skewed by 'paid' listings. But this is a different case, I think. Most of the information is supplied by the vendors. Therefore, it's easy for it to become out of date because the vendors have no accountability for maintaining it. However, if the vendor has to pay a little, then they're more inclined to either keep the values updated, or let the listing expire. It's quite possible that this will do exactly what Googl
      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        It might if it gets rid of the spam. Since anyone can upload their price list at the moment there is a lot of crap, including eBay style misleading keyword spammed titles and plain wrong information. Making them pay will discourage casual spammers and allow Google to more easily block people who set up multiple websites for the same company or who persistently break the rules.

        I have no idea if it will actually work, but I have a feeling Google didn't just do it on a whim or out of pure short-term greed...

      • by Ndkchk (893797)
        If it gets rid of all the scammy stores that don't actually let you buy the product at the listed price, I'm all for it. Google is pretty good at keeping that stuff out of regular search results, but they can't seem to get it out of product search.
      • by mounthood (993037)

        User quality ratings should inversely determine advertising cost. High quality == free advertising. Perfect for G+ integration.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Honestly, have you used their shopping search that much? You said it all when you said "when it worked." Nearly every time I've used it, I got nothing but junk, dead links, shady websites with suspiciously low prices, etc. The results are pure garbage a lot of the time. I'm not sure if this particular method is the best way to fix it, but they should definitely try something.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Google Worked okay for me, and provided a listing from cheapest to highest price. That's how I discovered magazinepricesearch.com which saved me a lot of money. Otherwise I'd still be paying double what I should.

    • It wasn't always comprehensive. But it was useful in that it got the unrelated cruft out of a regular Google search, while sometimes missing a small retailer that didn't provide their product feed to Google. I generally searched Amazon, Google Product Search, and then a general Google search. Guess I'll drop the Product Search.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by geekoid (135745)

      I wonder if a clue a poster is a troll is the number of nonsense AC posts reply.

      Shopping works as well as amazon, better then eBay
      The yellow box at the top that has a sponsored links? yeah, that's what they are talking about.
      Not the actual results.

      • by raydobbs (99133)

        I'm a troll because ACs respond to me? Amusing, completely strange idea. I don't need to post as AC to agree with my own idea, I tend to have more to do then that.

        My statement is based on the summary (I know, didn't read the article - but that's a proud /. tradition...) and it's my feelings on the facts as presented in the summary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ajlowe (2653007)

      ... who are sure to keep their prices fixed to one another.

      As the owner of a medium size e-commerce site, I can tell you that most of the time that prices are fixed, it is not the fault of the retailers. Nine time out of ten, when you see every reputable retailer listing for exact same price, it is because the manufacturer has established a MAP (Minimum Advertised Pricing) policy where they will refuse to sell their product to any retailer who advertises their products below the MAP price. Most online retailers hate MAP as evidenced by our efforts to get around i

      • by Kalriath (849904)

        Thank fuck that most sane countries still consider that sort of thing illegal then. You guys really need to reign in your government.

    • by Fjandr (66656)

      Yup, that was my thought. The margins are so small that requiring payment is going to make the ones I'd be looking for either disappear or compensate in their prices. I might use it a few times to see if it's still worthwhile, but I'm guessing this change is going to remove the last of its marginal usefulness.

    • I agree as a small business owner I don't know whether or not I will continue to use their Shopping Service. I guess it will depend on cost since honestly I don't make much money off of the Google Product search or in general currently http://www.griego-glass.com/ [griego-glass.com]
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday June 01, 2012 @04:44PM (#40185563) Homepage

    'We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality dataâ"whether itâ(TM)s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availabilityâ"should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.'

    That is a fine explanation of why you want to have a formal relationship with the retailers that you include in your search engine. Of course, that has nothing to do with it being pay-to-play. The pay-to-play is the part that matters to your users. The quote above is clearly deflecting attention from the change from a search engine (motivated primarily to satisfy the user) to a shopping mall (motivated primarily to satisfy the retailer). That is the part that is significant to users.

    • In this case, it kind of is a shopping mall... I would think that as long as Amazon, and other major online e-tailers remain on the listings, I won't complain at all. I see tons of shady listings, with half, or less pricing in the shopping search than appear on their site... and often will hit out of stock results on the actual website. If the price is nominal... say $1 per item per month for 1,000,000 items would be reasonable as a price structure for listings.
      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        I see tons of shady listings,

        Pay-to-play is unrelated to whether Google filters the results based on quality. They filter spam and other shady SEO in their regular search engine, and certainly have the technical chops to do the same in a shopping search engine. The question of shady listings is entirely unrelated to pay-to-play. Including that notion in the discussion is disingenuous.

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        In this case, it kind of is a shopping mall... I would think that as long as Amazon, and other major online e-tailers remain on the listings, I won't complain at all.

        If Amazon and other big sites (eBay, Newegg, etc.) fell off the list, I wouldn't care, as I know those sites, and they have good search engines. Google's advantage was in finding smaller legitimate sites with good prices. I think that is who will suffer most from this change.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Apparently you have not noticed that Google's entire business is built around satisfying the retailers, primarily via advertising. They just realize that the best way to do that is by keeping the users happy and providing them with the best search engine, free email and other services.

      If Google services put the businesses paying them above the users they would be ad-laden crap that no-one would use. The reality is that their services are so popular that people want to advertise on them and will accept the l

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        If Google services put the businesses paying them above the users they would be ad-laden crap that no-one would use.

        Perhaps you didn't read the article. Every single entry in Google Shopping from now on will be a paid placement. It will be 100% ads. I don't think you can get any more ad-laden than 100%.

        no paying to influence search result ranking).

        Umm, again, perhaps you didn't read the thing you are commenting on. Every single thing displayed will be a paid placement. It is 100% pay-to-play. "Unpaid result

  • Oh yeah... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    FTA:

    Google Shopping will empower businesses of all sizes to compete effectively

    I wonder how Google's marketing department managed to rationalize that one. Remind me again how putting monetary barriers to competing in a market empower businesses of all sizes?

  • That's the ticket to bolstering your failing shopping program, get just a little more blood from that stone.

  • So Google is taking what is really a useful tool for consumers and make it another bidding system...only where the seller is doing the bidding. Now, if this means that all the ebay ads for products I'm searching for disappear, I wouldn't complain too much. however, all I see is this becoming another useless marketing site for moneyed resellers to push their drek, and price fixing so there won't really be any more deals to find. I don't mind ads but if I want to read a site with nothing but, I'll go to my

    • by Jeng (926980)

      The question that will determine if this is good or not is how much Google ends up charging the retailer. If it's under a buck a listing I can't see this being that bad, if it's around $10 a listing this is going to be bad.

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        The question that will determine if this is good or not is how much Google ends up charging the retailer. If it's under a buck a listing I can't see this being that bad, if it's around $10 a listing this is going to be bad.

        If by "listing" you mean "unique product identifier", then $1 is way, way, way too much. I doubt Amazon would pay several hundred million dollars per (week/month/whatever) to be listed in Google product search.

        I suppose it would have to be some sort of volume-based scale, where a few hundred item store might pay $0.05/item to list, and Amazon would pay $0.0001/item.

  • They could just rank the paid customers higher or even hide the free listings by default. Then at least the free listings would remain available if what I wan't isn't being sold by any paying customers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Google Shopping results are full of errors and bogus data. If a small fee helps address this then that's a good thing.

    The issue would arise if they costs for a good listing becomes draconian (like Yelp).

  • If you want your business to show up on google maps it has to pay up. Could hide your city too if the local government doesn't pay to be listed.

    • If you want your business to show up on google maps it has to pay up...

      Isn't that why we have Open Street Maps?

  • Its the Google shopping results.

    Go to Google shopping.
    Search for, say, USB Outlets.
    That section at the top the is clearly differentiated? THAT'S what they may charge for you to be in.
    Not the search results.

    The knee jerk reaction about everything google does has gone from annoying, to numerous and now returning to annoying.

    Please use facts, and not wild ass thoughts that just pop into your head.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nobody seems to be confused about that.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's not knee-jerk to understand that the shopping results will now be there for the retailer, rather than the consumer.

      You need to learn to control your mania so your posts don't come across as odd, the way they so often do.

    • The knee jerk reaction about everything google does has gone from annoying, to numerous and now returning to annoying.

      At one time those "knee jerks" were nearly all trash-talking Microsoft astrofurfers, then after Jobs declared jihad I suppose it changed to a mix of Microsoft and Apple astroturfers. But now there is a new class of Google critic... people like me who used to think Google could do no wrong. But I have witnessed just too many examples of Google arrogance getting in the way of what is best for the user. A few examples off the top of my head: 1) Obfuscated search lilnks that spy on me, are stupidly awkward to c

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The point is that the top part is going to take over the search results. The bottom part, where you don't have to pay for placement, is being removed entirely.

      From TFA:

      First, we are starting to transition Google Product Search in the U.S. to a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads. [...] Ranking in Google Shopping, when the full transition is complete this fall, will be based on a combination of relevance and bid price--just like Product Listing Ads today.

      From Google Shopping [google.com]:

      Google Shopping will launch this summer with new features designed to make shopping even more intuitive, beautiful, and useful. With this launch, Google Product Search will be discontinued.

      • by rgbrenner (317308)

        Google Shopping will launch this summer with new features designed to make shopping even more intuitive, beautiful, and useful. With this launch, Google Product Search will be discontinued.

        This is just what google needs: the 3rd (4th?) change to their upload format.

        Not to mention, it's so little used, you can almost ignore it without affecting your sales.

        Good job Google

  • Calm down (Score:4, Interesting)

    by N1AK (864906) on Friday June 01, 2012 @04:56PM (#40185875) Homepage
    One of my biggest issues with Google shopping is the number of prices that aren't current and inability to tell legitimate new sites from frauds. If they can improve that while charging a marginal fee then I would accept that as a worthwhile deal. Ultimately if Google charges enough that competitive shops stop listing then it'll shoot them in the foot. Also, just about everyone in Google's listings appears to allow affiliate sites and or buyers to use cashback sites. Google would be effectively skimming off some of their profit margin that they are happy to give to others.
    • If it's about keeping data up to date then they should be able to return that money to either the consumers as a small discount (to encourage them to use the service) or the stores (as a kickback every time a shopper buys through the shopping results). I can't say I'm happy with this decision, even if it is only a portion of the results that they are talking about, it still feels like a money grab.

  • So does anybody have a decent alternative? It's really hard as it is to actually product search on google because of the SEO fake 'review' sites taking up the first 3-10 pages of results. Having them cut off Google Shopping at the knees like this is going to make it even harder for me to actually find stuff I need to buy.
    • by pavon (30274)

      That was already linked from the summary, and from you comment above it's clear that you didn't even bother to read it yourself.

  • Google to set large mountain of money on fire to make room for even larger mountain of money.
  • Now I'll be looking at the high-paying stores (amazon, sears, penneys) and not seeing the low-or-non-paying stores that often offer the best bargains.

  • Google Shopping isn't even in their main toolbar. It's now hidden under "more".

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday June 01, 2012 @05:07PM (#40186139) Journal

    Using the shopping function is really a desperation measure - the prices are rarely "good" and the vendor list is exceedingly short. Anything that looks interesting is usually wrong. This is really on loss, since it's one of the few google services that simply isn't worth your time unless you need something obscure and you don't care where is comes from or how much it costs.

  • by Sentrion (964745) on Friday June 01, 2012 @05:10PM (#40186163)

    Google is also requiring the retailers to pay in Google Dollars which feature a picture of Larry Page at the center of every bill. Beginning in August the new Google Dollars will be the only currency that Google will allow to be used for all transactions with or through Google websites. The new Google Dollars will end the debate over whether the US Dollar or Euro should be the de facto world currency.

    • In your hypothetical, if Google Checkout would use a separate parallel currency, to what other currency or currencies would it be pegged? Money is only good for what it buys, and retailers need to buy from their suppliers using the currency that the supplier accepts.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday June 01, 2012 @05:17PM (#40186297)

    You look for anything that might be a product and you're going to be wading through pages of vendor sites. They should drop the shopping app altogether as it's already integrated with basic search.

  • 'We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will help to eliminate small business competition in the global arena .'

    There, fixed the interview for you.

  • ... and they forgot to add : more money for google. i use askvini.com instead
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dear Google,
    As a fan boy, step 1 is to stop relying on your search results when shopping.
    Googles likely response? You will stop me finding price comparison (competition) sites easily?
    Step 2, I go to Bing or Facebook search. (shudders) - I think I'd rather sh** my pants, but you know what? You ARE DOING EVIL, and this along with your other stunts is getting close to tipping me over the edge.

    You SHOULD be helping me FIND the CHEAPEST price, not the cheapest sponsor price, which are almost NEVER the same. Your

  • ....Because the shopping tab was my go to place to check out brands and compare stuff easily and semi-reliably. Next up paid for page ranking, let's go back to what made search horrible 10 years ago.
  • That's the message I'm getting
  • I took the time to register about 50 products for my Mother's site victoriantreasury.com that has some handmade products - handmade valentine gift cards based on real antiques in her collection. Anyway the site shows up on the top page of google's results so I thought it might attract people interested in buying in this niche area.. she's really a collector and runs a collectors' society so it is not like Hallmark or anything. But it seemed it would be a perfect long tail kind of niche to fit Google's merch

    • handmade valentine gift cards based on real antiques in her collection

      Google Shopping seems like a mismatch - have you tried Etsy?

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