Google has proven itself once again as an ally to small businesses during this crisis. In April, Google began making Google Shopping ads free for retailers in the US. After seeing this program help small businesses advertise their businesses during the pandemic, Google is extending this offer throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Keep reading to find out how this will work and when it will be available in Europe.
As much as the current situation brings some opportunities to businesses, it also presents very tough challenges. For small businesses, one of these challenges is creating relationships with consumers. For consumers, that challenge is finding the products they need online instead of at the shops that they normally frequent.
With this in mind, on April 21st, Google announced they were developing a tool to let online merchants display their products in Google Shopping for free. More recently, Google also announced that this program is finally coming to Europe!
“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.”
-Bill Ready, President of Commerce at Google
With that said, Google knew that it had to do its part to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. After all, Google makes a lot of money from Ads, but if these companies go out of business, a big chunk of their business will disappear as well. Thus began the experiment in the U.S.: a Google Shopping tab search results that primarily consisted of free listings.
These free Google Shopping listings have helped online stores display their products for free to millions of internet users. So far, this has helped many businesses survive the economic impacts of the coronavirus and that is why Google is now extending this offer to businesses across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Any business will be able to make use of the free listings regardless of whether or not they are advertising on Google currently. For those shop owners who do invest in Google Ads, they will still have the possibility to continue running ads that will strengthen and/or complement their free listings.
Through the tests in the US, retailers saw some great results. Merchants running free listings and ads simultaneously got an average of twice as many views and 50 percent more visits. According to Google, small and medium-sized businesses saw the biggest increases since these free listings launched.
Naturally, free ads will benefit businesses. However, these free product listings will benefit shoppers as well. Consumers will have access to more stores and thus find the products they are looking for more quickly, easily, and efficiently as well.
Are you new to Google Shopping? Check out our free guide that walks you through setting up your Merchant Center and linking it to your Google Ads account:
To give you an idea, this is what the new function looks like in the US:
Paid ads still appear in the first row, but below that are the free Google Shopping ads
As you may have noticed in the image above, product ads will continue to appear at the top under the "Ads" section and will continue to function in the same way as they have been up to now.
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As we mentioned, this function was implemented in the United States at the end of April. Recently, Google announced that this will be available in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa beginning in “mid-October”, so it’s definitely time to get ready!
According to the Google Merchant Center Help page, if you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping ads and you’ve already opted into the “Surfaces across Google” program, you might actually already be eligible to show your products in these unpaid experiences, and no further steps are necessary to participate (once available in your market).
In order to opt in, you’ll have to select “Growth” and then “Manage programs” in the left navigation menu and select the “Surfaces across Google” program card. From there, you can add products to your product feed to make even more of your products discoverable in these free listings.
Google is also working on making the onboarding process as easy as possible for those retailers that are new to this over the next weeks. It’s worth noting that in Europe, you can also choose any Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) to work with free listings.
If you’ve never advertised on Google Shopping before, it’s no problem. The program is still open and available today. Remember that you don’t need to use Google Ads in order to sign up with the Merchant Center.
Therefore, you should go ahead and create an account now, opt into the “Surfaces across Google” program, and upload your product listing there. Therefore, when the time comes, your shop will be ready!
With that announcement, Google also added that soon you’ll be able to see the performance of those unpaid clicks with a performance report for “Surfaces across Google” in the Merchant Center.
Google also mentioned that they kicked off a new partnership with PayPal in order to allow merchants to link their accounts and thus, speed up the onboarding process.
Google will also be working hard with their existing partners to make digital commerce more accessible to businesses small and large. This includes e-commerce platforms companies like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce.
Although it may take some time to reach Europe, Google is doing what they can to help small businesses stay afloat and perhaps even strengthen their business during the pandemic. Whether you plan to use Google Shopping or not, it definitely makes sense to set up a Merchant Centre account now, so your business will be ready when the time comes.
If you're not completely new to Google Shopping, perhaps you'll find our whitepaper, "Google Shopping II: Optimisation", helpful!
This article was originally written for our Spanish blog: ¡Vender en Google Shopping es ahora gratis!
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