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Google Is Turning into an Advertising-Marketplace Hybrid

Watch out, eBay and Amazon – Google is turning into an advertising-marketplace hybrid as it brings shopping transactions directly to its search engine platform. The company is testing “Purchases on Google,” which lets retail advertisers add a Buy button to their Google Shopping ads (merchants know them as Product Listing Ads).

When a person searches Google for a product, they generally see Google Shopping Ads displayed alongside organic search results. If a shopper clicks on an ad featuring “Buy on Google” text, they’re taken to a retailer-branded product page hosted by Google, where they can complete the purchase on their mobile device.

Checkout is seamless, simple, and secure thanks to saved payment credentials in the shopper’s Google Account, according to Google.

There’s always a reluctance on the part of sellers to have customers transact on an app or website other than their own, but Google has gotten very good at getting merchants to cede control in exchange for exposure and sales.

While Google hosts the product page and provides purchase protection for customers, retailers own the customer communication and can offer customers the option to receive marketing and promotional messages, the company explained.

The benefit to merchants: Google says the new Buy buttons improve conversion rates thanks to a simplified checkout process. And, at least for now, there’s no charge beyond the cost of the ads, which are cost per click. “Participating retailers only pay for clicks on the shopping ads to the product page; all clicks and interactions on the product page are free.”

eBags, Staples, and Under Armour are participating in the testing and provided testimonials on the Google announcement post.

Google Drives Shoppers to Third-Party Apps
It’s not all about bringing commerce directly to its own search engine – Google is also working with retail advertisers to send mobile shoppers directly to their own mobile apps (known as deep-linking).

Included in the program with a small number of advertisers are eBay, Flipkart, and Zalando. “This is a tremendous new opportunity for retailers and app developers to drive engagement with their shopping apps, and we’ll be expanding it to more advertisers in the coming months,” Google said.

Citing aggregated data from Google Analytics for the US retail vertical in May 2015, Google found retailer conversion rates are two-times higher on desktop than on mobile, which is the reason it is working on these new advertising solutions.

The full announcement of Google’s post on what it calls its micro-shopping initiatives is available on the Google Adwords blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.