Once upon a time, there was a revolutionary tech company which introduced the world a great free service for finding things across the web in a much better way than any other service around. Under a “Don’t Be Evil” mantra, the company’s founders declared they’ll keep all their services unbiased and free.
Those days are now gone.
Google announced they are transforming Google Product Search into a new service called Google Shopping in order to build “a better shopping experience”. Oh, and it is going to be a completely paid business model, meaning that if you are a merchant you’ll have to pay for your ticket inside.
Wait a minute… Payment? On one of Google’s vertical search products? Isn’t that something that the company always stood against? Something that makes the results not objective? If only there was some proof for that statement that would have made them look like giant douchebags…
Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating… …We believe it is important for everyone to have access to the best information and research, not only to the information people pay for you to see.
This is a very dangerous and scary precedent of Google. Okay, so perhaps now it is “just” Google Product Search (or Shopping) which relatively has much lower volume than the other company’s search services, but it is opening up the gate for an evil dimension which been shut a long time ago.
Today, the idea of Google’s holy grail search engine (google.com) will become a paid inclusion engine just became much more realistic (even if we still far from it) while before it didn’t even considered as a random thought. Terrifying random thought.
It’s All About The Merchant, Not Customer
The transition of Product Search to Google Shopping suppose to be over by the fall. Shopping will be more or less like a giant AdWords merchant section which will be based on the advertisers’ bidding price “just like Product Listing Ads today” and which “will give merchants greater control”. What’s that? Customers? Nope, they weren’t mentioned.
To speed things up and probably to dodge hesitations and doubts, Google are bribing merchants with 10% monthly credit of their 2012 Product Listing Ad spend and $100 AdWords credit if they’ll sign up for the service until August 15th. Also, for increased exposure merchants can participate in the Trusted Stores program which was presented last year.
Google will also start to implement some of the Shopping features into google.com search results, labeled under “Sponsored”. Here’s an example of a results page with this kind of Shopping feature:
If you are looking for an example of too many ads above the fold, this is a classic one. If it was on some other site, it was surely getting hit by the Page Layout algorithm. But apparently, Google holds other set of rules and definitions of “evil” for itself.
(H/T Danny Sullivan)
Update: Be sure to read my follow-up article Satan’s Seize of Google Shopping.