EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3147 - September 06, 2013     2 of 4

Google Licenses Merchant Ratings As It Pushes into Ecommerce

By David A. Utter

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Shed no tears for Google, the dominant presence in online advertising and the de facto search engine choice among millions of people. Their success has numbered billions of dollars in search ad revenue over the past few years.

Yet the company, like many businesses, seeks to distribute its risk and gain greater rewards in diversity. Google has been steadily assembling pieces of an ecommerce puzzle with the apparent endgame being a solution that encompasses broad choices and delivery lockers.

An additional piece of that puzzle came to light when Google opted to license StellaService ratings data for sellers. Being able to offer seller ratings appears to connect with higher clickthrough rates as determined by Google's research.

A Forbes profile of StellaService reveals its efforts at bringing a quantifiable element to the concept of online customer service. Through anonymous shoppers and tracking various online metrics, StellaService rates a company's customer service.

Google valued this enough to make a deal with the company, which should begin making itself more visible to consumers soon. People searching on Google for shopping purchases will start seeing StellaService ratings with their search results in the coming weeks.

Considering Google's multi-billion dollar search ad success, it may seem curious that the company would worry much about facilitating the sales that marketers running Google AdWords campaigns seek to make. But the online ad game is facing significant challenges.

Salon revealed that Google has bought in to Adblock Plus and its "Acceptable Ads" initiative. Adblock Plus is a browser add-on that blocks ads that would normally appear on a given webpage. The company operating Adblock Plus is allowing advertisers like Google to pay a fee in exchange for having their "acceptable" advertising go through for display.

To get around Adblock Plus' diligent blocking, a community of reviewers will flag ads as being acceptable or unacceptable. Those that are rated acceptable will be allowed through Adblock Plus to display normally, and Adblock Plus users can always opt to block all ads anyway.

A vicious cycle of intrusive ads and aggressive blocking evidently masks a bigger problem - declining online ad revenue. Even Google suffered from missed expectations despite being up 19 percent year over year with their Q2 2013 revenue of over $14 billion.

If a little blip on the radar of company performance versus analyst expectations is enough to nudge Google into investing heavier in ecommerce, and economic diversity, it suggests this to ecommerce pros: be very good at your customer service. Ads may bring shoppers in, but high quality service will help keep them for repeat business.

About the author:

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.

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