|Thu Nov 29 2012 15:23:28|
Are You Getting Scroogled by Google?
By: Ina Steiner
Microsoft's Bing search engine is telling consumers they're being "Scroogled" by Google - but are they? And what about online merchants - are they getting Scroogled by Google?
Paid search has been a boon to small businesses trying to get exposure on search engines like Google and Bing. Larger companies might dominate organic search results, but smaller companies using paid search have a pretty good shot at getting pay-per-click traffic if they manage their campaigns and budgets carefully. (To show how big a business this is, how many keywords does a marketplace like eBay manage for its paid-search campaigns on Google and other search engines? You might think hundreds of thousands of keywords, right? How about 170 million!)
Another service to come along that had a major impact on small merchants was Google Product Search. Merchants of all sizes could send their product feeds to Google, which displayed those products in Google Shopping search results and in Google Shopping one-boxes in Google.com search results for free!
Now that Google has killed its Google Product Search free model and moved to an exclusive pay-for-performance model in Google Shopping (as of the fall), small merchants are at a distinct disadvantage. They can still use Google AdWords paid search and SEO techniques to try to rank highly in search results. But now they must manage an entirely new program and figure out how much to bid on each product if they wish to get exposure in Google Shopping results.
Aside from the impact on merchants, Google rival Bing says shoppers are being "Scroogled" as a result of Google Shopping moving to an entirely paid-ad model, saying it believes consumers have no idea the results in Google Shopping are paid advertisements.
Microsoft registered the Scroogled.com domain name 2 days after Christmas last year, and launched an ad campaign this week questioning Google's new approach: "Google Shopping is nothing more than a list of targeted ads that unsuspecting customers assume are search results," the Scroogled.com website declares.
But Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land says not so fast, Microsoft! "Bing itself does the same things it accuses Google of," Sullivan writes. "It's also another indictment of how little the FTC is doing to protect consumers from "search results" they might not realize are ads."
Sullivan called on both companies to do a better job of disclosing which results merchants are paying for and disclosing to merchants how payments impact their exposure in search results. This is a must read article on the topic.
Whatever the end result of the "Scroogled" campaign, this is probably a net positive in terms of publicity for Microsoft. The company finally has people talking about its Bing search engine - without having to pay them!