A couple of weeks ago, we reported that links to third-party comparison shopping engines (CSEs) had been spotted in Google Shopping results in the UK. Now ads for products promoted by competing CSEs are showing up in the Google Shopping carousel in the UK (and possibly other EU countries).
The inclusion of ads from competing CSEs is part of Google’s response to an antitrust ruling and massive fine issued by the European Commission last year. The example below, shared by a webmaster who goes by Gabs, shows an ad by ShoppingFM in the second ad slot in the Shopping carousel. The other product listing ads are by Google’s own shopping engine.
Google is appealing the European Commission’s antitrust ruling, but in the meantime, the company has established Google Shopping as a distinct business in the EU. In a new structure, that business unit then bids against other CSEs in the ad auction to give the competing engines “equal treatment” as mandated in the ruling. In the US and other non-EU markets, individual advertisers compete within the Google Shopping auction.
A merchant’s visibility on Google Shopping in EU markets will now depend on how well it performs for Google Shopping and any other CSEs on which it purchases ads. This is in addition to its bid and the CSE’s evaluation of its expected performance for a given query. Because Google is bidding against other players, it will likely bid only as high as is profitable for it as a marketer. The ads were supposed to start showing last fall, but have been slow to roll out.
Unlike the previous sighting of a link shown at the end of the ad carousel, the screenshot above reflects the format Google had put forward last September (shown below) and has apparently now settled upon.