Google Shopping Ads Are Free—Now What?

Guest post contributed by Ben Raley, SEO Specialist

Recently, at the end of April, Google announced a big change to their shopping platform with a simple message:        “It’s now free to sell on Google.” As the world’s top search resource opens its advertising gates, let’s take a look at the ramifications of this change.

Change in the Works

As part of ongoing development, Google consistently updates its online shopping platform’s capabilities to compete with other large-scale retailers like Amazon. Free placement on Google’s shopping tab is simply the latest advance. Referring to the change, Google commerce president Bill Ready stated that the company was “advancing [its] plans” to make advertising on Google Shopping free. So why did Google fast-track this decision?

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting every business, from large conglomerates to small, privately owned companies, Google responded with a way to equalize the playing field. Because Google is the starting point for many customer queries, making its shopping functionality as robust as possible helps out all kinds of businesses.

Opening a Door to Boosting Business

Many businesses, especially small and privately owned companies, are looking for ways to keep their doors open. Some have never explored selling their products online—some likely have never had to consider it. And small businesses likely do not have the budgets to invest in paid media marketing. But with the economic landscape changing and the ways people shop being impacted by our new normal, these companies have to consider adapting to survive.

That’s why Google’s move to make listing on their shopping platform free, and therefore more inclusive, represents a monumental opportunity for this category of businesses. If they’re just beginning to sell online these companies likely wouldn’t be very discoverable, and they may not be able to invest in paid advertising to get the word out about their brand. But free listings provide one option that is equally available across the board.

With their products coming up in Google Shopping results, millions of potential new customers can find new brands—and customers increasingly looking to buy online instead of in-store will find more purchasing options.

Competition Grows

Even though many smaller businesses will have access to Google Shopping listings, some may not be able to compete with low prices offered by large corporations. Brand awareness is always beneficial—more customers will see their brands simply as those brands appear in search results—but many may still turn to large companies if their prices are more competitive.

But when demand is high, especially during challenging economic times, having more options for goods will be key. And making those options more easily discoverable will help connect them to consumers. If main sources of certain supplies run out, smaller sources could become key suppliers that help consumers obtain what they need.

How Can You Get in on This?

When budgets are reduced, marketing dollars are often the first to go. It’s understandable to cut back during unique situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, and it becomes even more important for marketers to find tools and resources that require minimal investment with measurable output. Google Shopping ads, now free, give all brands a chance to keep their marketing plans rolling no matter what.

Google Shopping listings are a welcome addition to everyone’s options for organic search strategy, for example, and paid campaigns can be augmented with these free listings. Paid listings are still available, and they will still receive prominent placement in results—so many companies may still invest in this type of marketing. However, it’s worth considering reallocating your marketing spend to other ways of getting the word out since Google Shopping ads can be used free of charge.

Lasting Adjustments

The adjustment to Google Shopping ads represents a change that arose because of the COVID-19 pandemic but will last far beyond it. How can you adapt to the change—and take advantage of this new opportunity?

We’re here to help. Take a look at how we approach working with your brand. Ready to be bold with us? Let’s talk.

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