Google has announced that it has extended its product listing ads on smartphone globally. This is an addition to the Product Listing Ads that shoppers can view on desktops and tablets. Although, Google has called it a global launch, the service will be available only in countries where Google Shopping has already transitioned to Product Listing Ads on the web. This list includes United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, Australia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, however it does not include India.
What does this new service entitle?
When a consumer does a shopping related search on mobile, the result page displays ads similar to the desktop search result page. Users can tap on any ad for more details or to buy the product. They can also tap on ‘Shop on Google’ to see more ads sponsored on Google. Google claims to provide better price and product comparison to consumers by displaying all its sponsored ads at one go which is then supposed to aid them in narrowing their search. Users can then shop from the retailer’s website upon deciding on the product. It appears that Google is trying to create a market place through its existing database of retailers advertising with it. Businesses have been depending on Google for online advertising for a very long time and Google seems to be consolidating on this dependency with a new packaging.
Why India could use a service like this?
It is interesting to see that Google hasn’t launched this feature in India at a time when many ecommerce players in the country are pivoting to become marketplaces. Earlier this week, we had reported that Infibeam had pivoted to become marketplace. Last month, Flipkart had revealed its plan to launch a marketplace. However, this plan is in the light of the investigations against the company for violating FDI regulations. In September 2012, Snapdeal had pivoted from being a deals site to an online marketplace, allowing sellers to offer products across categories. In February 2012, Amazon launched Junglee.com with a model similar to Google. Ecommerce players can list their product ads for free.
Apart from marketplaces, there are also price comparison websites that offer price comparison of different products from ecommerce websites. BearShop is a price comparison website that was launched last month. PriceBaba is a price comparison website which raised a seed round earlier this year. MySmartPrice is another player in this space which got a Rs.2 crore funding last year. Other players include Network18’s Compareindia, FindYogi, and iShopper*.
With increasing significance of e-retailing in India, the Indian ecommerce industry could use a service like Product Listing Ads on mobile in India. It will be of great significance in a country like India where price comparison of products is crucial in decision making. On launching this service in India, Google may even have an upper hand with the kind of database that it already has access to. Although Junglee.com provides the same service for free, the market penetration of Google is much more than Amazon with respect to product search and ad listing. Google definitely has an advantage in India.
Google has been steadily working on catering to businesses and penetrating that market for sometime now. In February 2013, Google extended its Google Business Photos program to India. Businesses can integrate interactive, 360 degree interior imagery of their commercial spaces on Google Maps. In December 2012, Google had partnered with about 90 ecommerce companies in India to launch the Great Online Shopping Festival, a 24 hour online shopping festival wherein the participating eCommerce companies offered various deals to consumers. It is worth noting that Google decided to further its advertising revenue agenda on mobile in August last year. The company launched a new initiative called ‘Lets Talk Mo‘ in India. In this initiative, businesses could either create a mobile site for free or test the user friendliness of their existing mobile site.
*Disclosure: iShopper is owned by Nikhil Pahwa’s, editor at MediaNama, cousin Vivek Pahwa.