Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu May 31 2012 17:04:54

How Will Google Shopping Changes Affect eBay, Marketplaces?

By: Ina Steiner

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Currently online shoppers will find eBay product listings on Google.com search results pages in a Google Shopping "universal" widget as well as in Google.com/shopping search results. So at first glance, it seems today's news that Google Shopping is killing free listings and moving to a paid-listings model would hurt sellers on marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy. (Google said it will be transitioning to the paid model beginning this summer.)

However, one merchant said the change could actually benefit eBay.

"Sellers like me - who have benefited greatly from the Google product feeds, and who have been able to realize a bit of independence from eBay as a result - are likely to *return* to eBay in order to recover some of the volume that's likely to be lost as Google eliminates the free product-feeds."

eBay, like everyone else, will have to pay for its merchants' listings to appear on Google Shopping starting this fall by using Google Product Listing Ads. I'm waiting to hear back from eBay about its reaction to the news, but other, smaller marketplaces who have weighed in say today's announcement is bad news for them.

One marketplace executive was actually skeptical that Google would go through with the changes. "My hunch is that they're probably testing the waters with this idea to see how much merchant anger it stirs up, and (more importantly) whether they can actually get everyone to pay. My hunch is that it will prove difficult."

Another replied via email, "All I can say is that the change will impact us negatively. I am not sure to what extent but we will find out this fall."

An executive representing a third marketplace, whom I quoted in today's news story, estimated sales would decrease 20 - 30% for his marketplace once the listings no longer appeared in Google Shopping results.

We'd like to know what you think of Google Shopping's new approach. We're conducting a survey to see how online merchants and marketplace sellers will be impacted - please take the survey now, and leave your comments below.

Comments (41) | Leave Comment | Permalink
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by: sailonsilvergirl This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 1 09:47:17 2012

If eBay is going to start paying for ads on Google, their costs are going to increase, and they are going to pass that on to their customers so I expect cost increases from them.

I think sellers can still use other free options to market themselves. If you sell antiques, maybe set up a YouTube channel showing people how to restore or do antique appraisals. You can get ad revenue from YouTube and also feature your store.

There are two sisters on YouTube, Elle and Blair Fowler, that do this very well. They both have channels that show girls/women how to apply makeup which gets hundreds of thousands of views. They also have a store where they sell makeup related items.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Jun 1 12:16:13 2012

Google and eBay have one thing in common:  GREED

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Jun 1 12:18:42 2012

"As for Google search, has anyone noticed how irrelevant it has become?"

Yes, try blekko.com    It works like Google did before they got greedy.

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by: zvicki This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 1 13:35:58 2012

Thank you Rexford - you just got a new convert to blekko.com - I just tried it and found exactly what I was looking for with no other crap in the way! Amazing!
Yes, I to have seen the downward spiral of both ebay and goggle search, as I recently mentioned just trying to find current, reasonable prices for vintage household items. I'm now heading for Bing and Yahoo to see how my search results fair there. I agree it's time for these "big boys" to take a "big fall" for all their nonsense - I'm not paying a dime for any goggle ads - of that I am certain!

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by: tmooreseller This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jun 1 14:19:08 2012

My goodness you would think the world was ending. Each merchant has the option to use/not use any of the above retail outlets if they point all their ads to their own sites. I stopped using Google way last year, and I have not used eBay since 2005. I use my own site to sell my products and now have found another site which shows promise. If you are not satisfied with the results of anything, go elsewhere. This is how those sites will discover how much their practices drive away both shoppers and merchants.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Jun 1 15:33:10 2012

Lunatic, counterproductive greed is pandemic in Silicon Valley just as it is on Wall Street.

This may be Google's moment of truth.

Most companies are NOT going to pay. Companies can't afford any more slices of their slice of the pie.

As always, it will be the small business and start ups that will be affected the most followed by medium sized online businesses all already operating on shoestring profits.

If Silicon Valley doesn't slow down and comprehend the very, very simple fact that they must also operate to their customers' needs rather than only to their own, they will kill most internet business.

Their insatiable greed is unnecessarily driving up the cost of doing business (and therefore prices) each year when inflation stays relatively the same for most things.

Eventually, things I buy will cost less in the brick and mortar stores even including gas and sales tax. That will be the day I and I suspect many others will abandon most online shopping.

And the Googles, ebays, and amazons of the world will have earned exactly what they deserve.

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 1 16:57:08 2012

It took me so GD long to get my feed in the order Google wanted (which isn't easy since they don't bother trying to explain anything.)  I haven't noticed much activity coming to my site from Google...so I won't be paying them.

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by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 1 18:04:12 2012

Taking someone's money and providing a service for it constitutes a contract, doesn't it? Google will have to provide easy access to customer service to correct any accounting errors, take care of any refunds, correct other errors on each and every account. Right now, there is no customer service or any way to find out how to correct errors. Now it's free, but when they start charging for their service, it changes the whole game. I hope they are planning to provide access phone numbers to call with enough CS people to handle any problems. If you go to Google's forums now with a question, they merely refer you back to their boilerplate which is written in such a way as to be confusing and obtuse. Even the volunteer helpers cannot answer things well or get answers from Google.

That is not going to fly with this new scenario.

I hope, if there are any people in the legal field here, they will either correct me or expand on my train of thought.

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by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 1 18:49:53 2012

@ Rexford

Just tried Blekko. Wow very fast and clean and had some sites I never heard of. So it brought back much more interesting results. Thanks for mentioning it.

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by: eBelly This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jun 2 02:29:13 2012

The decision has been made? and the mega search bot switch is now off because google wants to swallow eBay, and the bride is not yet willing to gleefully be penetrated.  Google, please give back what eBay stole from us as the 'people's marketplace'..  indoor, virtual flea market..  ship it yourself buyer that the entire cyber flea market concept was based on.

The fact that eBay turned flea markets into slavery with search preferences for their cronies might be a CIVIL RIGHTS settlement in the hundreds of billions to pay back the private sellers who were scammed with the 'search metrics' payouts internally and private discounts to corporate buy.com types who don't play by the same rules.

Why did you do this to us Pierre?  We trusted you bro.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nan
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Sat Jun 2 08:55:04 2012

Slightly off-topic but . . .
When I did a search for Bing Shopping, I find that Bing Product Upload was discontinued May 2009.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bing_Shopping

So what do they use now?  Is it within that Windows Live thing?

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by: julie This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 3 08:10:09 2012

Hi Nan!

Go to https://adcenter.microsoft.com/ and sign up for an account. Once signed in, you can go to Tools and set up your feed and other options.

Note: You will need to give them credit card information during signup... From their FAQ: The Bing Shopping program is still free.  However, Microsoft adCenter account setup requires a credit card number in order for the registration to be complete.  

Hope that helps....and good luck! :)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nan
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Sun Jun 3 09:34:56 2012

Thanks julie, I'll check it out :)

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by: magbay95 This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Jun 3 15:12:27 2012

I'm not sure Bing/Yahoo is any better, perhaps even worse. They don't index properly. For my website URLs, Google shows 44 results, and Bing/Yahoo - only 2 (?). Instead, they show competitors links and a pile of spam. When I search by my real name, they don't even show my Facebook page and other personal profile pages, but numerous spam links. So, I get virtually ''0'' traffic from them. When I wrote asking for help, they responded with a meaningless form letter; and the tone was so arrogant. No explanation and no help whatsoever. So, I don't think they're the better alternative to Google. For now, I'm sticking with Google and will enroll into this new merchant's program. I hope it'll work.  

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by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 3 15:15:08 2012

Because we have relied on Google for so long when doing searches, we have almost forgotten that there are other search engines available. So I have been using the others, and guess what? They are fine and even faster. Plus they return things I haven't seen on Google. So Google is not the only player in this game. We should all at least give the others a try. Relying on only one thing just allows them to take advantage of you, as Google is doing. The more I think about it, the madder I get. How dare they skew results like this?

Alternatives exist. Let's use them. They're good.

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by: magbay95 This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Jun 3 16:31:20 2012

I really hope this new Google merchant program will cut down rampant spam. Can't imagine how great it would be to start getting only relevant search results. Also, that the fees will be affordable for most sellers to enroll. Wonder if other search engines will follow: startpage, aol, teoma.  

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by: fortunately This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 3 18:44:46 2012

I have used Google mainly  but find it have a lot of clutter. I go through several screens to find my ecrater  book listings.

Just tried several searches on blekko.com. it is clean and efficient. I was able to see my  listing up high in the search. I will be using it as of today and doing research on other search engines. There are other options besides Google and Ebay.

I hardly get any sales on Ebay whether auctions or buy it now and traffic is extremely poor. Yet my Ebay final fees and shipping fees are steadily increasing.

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by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 3 22:02:11 2012

Frankly, I think the obscure wording on Google and other sites about legalities is a deliberate attempt to obfuscate interpretation. That way, if they get sued, they can say, "Well, it was right there in black and white for you to read" and then it makes the one suing them look like an idiot because they cannot understand.

It's like an insider joke, it's a need to know thing, and we don't need to know.

On the Google forums you go and ask a pertinent question, and you really need an answer. There are volunteer people who try to answer and they may help some, but getting to any finer points is impossible, so they just refer you back to the same obfuscating rhetoric that caused the problem in the first place.

It is a nightmare, and I see nothing different with this announcement.

They made the announcement and stated a few things, but there are many, many finer points that need to be answered, like how much is this going to cost? Is it the same for everyone, is it tiered, will it give a break to the small seller, or is it merely going to favor the big players and drive the small sellers away?

I wonder why they would want to drive the small seller away, One thing comes to mind, and that is possibly they are caving to pressure from the big players to get rid of the small sellers so they have clear sailing.

This is a very effective tool for doing this. Genius, actually, because it will work so well.

Small sellers will be having a very bleak holiday season, I fear.

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by: rooftop This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 4 13:06:49 2012

Businesses can choose who they have as customers .
eBay's success would seem to rely a lot on it's business relationship as a customer of Google .
Ebay often gets rid of many of their customers often for what many , may call petty reasons .
What would happen to eBay ? if Google decided to it no longer wanted Ebay as a customer .
The only thing that eBay has between it's self and it's customer is a web site that Google helps to draw the customers to , by paying fees to Google .
Ebay has been very successful but is it possible that the Google and eBay business relationship will last for ever or is it possible that Google has other plans for the future ?

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by: Hart2hart This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Jun 6 14:33:18 2012

I don't think shoppers are going to be impressed with Google Shopping, if it changes. I don't want to see only products from the huge, faceless stores and they'll be the only ones who can afford this change. I can't stand all the alibaba stuff that comes up everywhere. I'll just continue doing my shopping from the marketplace sites like Artfire and Etsy.

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