Shopping ads on Google are a crucial element of the marketing strategy of online retailers, accounting for as much as 76.4% of online ad spend. In the UK that number is even higher, with 82% of ad spend and 87.9% of all clicks on Google Ads coming through Shopping campaigns.
It’s easy to see why Shopping ads have become so dominant, as they allow advertisers to reach users who are actively searching for their products with ads which are far more engaging than traditional text ads.
But what is the best way to manage your product feed in Google Shopping? In this article, we explain why Comparison Shopping Services (CSS) provide much better value for advertisers than Google’s own Shopping feed.
The Rise of Comparison Shopping Services
The rise of CSS in search began in 2017 with a ruling by the European Commission. The EC hit Google with a €2.42bn antitrust fine for anti-competitive practices. The European Commission ruled that Google had abused its position of dominance in search by providing an uncompetitive advantage to its Shopping feed, and returning its own results over those from non-Google feeds.
This ruling forced Google to take significant steps to make its Shopping services more competitive, opening up the platform to rival Comparison Shopping Services, and actively encouraging advertisers to use their services.
What is a CSS?
A CSS is a website which collects product information from online retailers and is able to feed it into Google’s Shopping results. Users who click on a Shopping ad from a CSS are then sent directly to the retailer’s website, as you can see in the illustration below:
Following the ruling by the European Commission, CSS have proliferated throughout Europe. Some CSS partners specialise in specific industries, such as fashion, while others offer bid and feed management tools as part of their service.
You can find a list of Google approved CSS partners on the link below, although CSS providers do not have to be partnered with Google to appear in search.
Why Use a CSS?
Perhaps a more accurate question would be to ask ‘why wouldn’t you use a CSS?’. In order to make their Shopping results more competitive, Google has offered huge incentives for using a CSS instead of Google Shopping’s Merchant Centre.
- Discounted bids. That’s right. Under Google’s partner programme, certified CSS providers receive around a 20% discount in click costs! Simply put, if you’re using Google Shopping instead of a CSS, you’re leaving 20% of your Shopping ad spend on the table.
- Increased ad presence. By partnering with more than one CSS, you increase your chances of appearing twice in the same auction, something which would be impossible for advertisers who are limited to Google’s own Shopping feed. While products by the same retailers are generally not shown next to each other, it is still possible to show products from the same retailer in the same auction via multiple CSSs.
- Beat out the competition. If you’re channelling your Google Shopping spend through a CSS, you’re saving 20% for each click. If just one of your competitors is still using Google Shopping native feed, that’s a 20% competitive advantage you have which you can use to outbid them in the auction!
Need Help Switching to a CSS?
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re still running shopping ads through Google’s Shopping feed, you are putting yourself at a serious disadvantage in relation to your competition.
As specialists in digital advertising for E-commerce companies, we have extensive experience in migrating our clients over to our preferred CSS partners, helping to reduce click costs significantly and to ramp up revenue and ROAS.
For help making the transition to CSS, contact Charles Holland on 07 398 638 581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team of experts has a demonstrable track record of delivering a scalable return on investment for E-commerce companies across the major search and social media advertising channels.