Google India has introduced Product Listing Ads in India, a new ad format that will appear on shopping related queries on Google.co.in.

When a user makes a shopping related search query, Google will now display these ads with product image, price of the product and links. Note that these results will appear in a box with “sponsored links” labeled over it. In May 2013, NDTV Gadgets had reported that Google had started displaying shopping results with search listings in India for select users.

When we checked, the product listing ads were not available on my account, however, it was available on my colleague Vikas’ account. It’s quite possible as Google usually tends to roll out services like these in batches and that not many E-Commerce companies might be participating in the program yet. Current E-Commerce partners include Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, Naaptol, among others. It appears that Google is testing multiple ad formats. Product Listing Ads doesn’t seem to work on mobile browsers, at the time of writing this article.

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In May 2012, Google transitioned its Product Search to a new shopping system that required merchants to pay for the inclusion in the US. Besides this, free Google shopping listings ended for worldwide customers on June 11, 2013 and it had extended its product listing ads on smartphone globally, except for India.  Prior to this, merchants could see their products listed on search queries for free.

It’s an interesting offering since customers use Google for researching a product before buying. Earlier, since Google listed products from all eCommerce websites, one could also use the service for product price comparison. However, now that Google has stopped accepting free inclusion, only paid products from e-commerce sites would appear in the results.

Subsequently, users will now have to use price comparison engines to find the cheapest product across all eCommerce websites. This could be a huge win for hundreds of price comparison companies that are appearing these days including CompareIndia, which Network18 bought a decade ago, the Helion Venture Partners and Accel Partners backed MySmartPrice, FindYogi and iShopper*, CompareRajaPriceDekho,  ShopManiaPriceCheckProdseaBearShop, ShoppingWish. 500 Startups backed PriceBaba also claims to provide best price for mobile handsets from offline retailers.

Google’s eCommerce support

Well, there’s no free lunch and with Google everything has a business purpose. 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’s now clear that Google obviously had an agenda behind pushing eCommerce in India.

*Disclosure: iShopper is owned by Vivek Pahwa, who is related to Nikhil Pahwa.