Consumers who search products to buy online either search Google or Amazon.com. While, Google is just a search engine that curate listings from across the web, and "not a store."
At the same time, Amazon, an online retailer, also act as a search engine to help consumers look for what they want to buy. Besides carrying products itself, and including listings from other merchants among its product results, Amazon also offers ecommerce players at least two different ad types -- and clicking on those ads takes shoppers to sites outside of Amazon.
But, for some time Google with its comparison-shopping service "Google Shopping," is increasingly inching into e-commerce. To this end, to stave off the competition from Amazon, Google has recently changed Google Shopping to require e-commerce companies to pay to be included in shopping results, so product listings are now ads. "Inclusion used to be free."
According to New York Times article that run the story, Google says the change will improve its shopping results because retailers are more likely to list accurate and up-to-date items if they are paying. By requiring retailers to pay for listings, "incentives are aligned to make sure the data we're receiving is of a higher quality," said Sameer Samat, vp for product management for Google Shopping, which was formerly called Google Product Search and, before that, Froogle. "With better data, we can build a better experience for users," Samat said.
The shift to paid listings on Google Shopping began this summer and will be complete this fall. It is part of Google's expanding e-commerce playbook, which also includes Wallet for payments, Offers for daily deals and the Google Shopper mobile app for finding items nearby.
It's not that Google is the first comparison-shopping sites gone for paid listing, but most other including Yahoo Shopping, Nextag and PriceGrabber are also paid-listing. Microsoft's Bing Shopping is free for retailers except for some paid listings through a partnership with Shopping.com, which is part of eBay.
But most retailers say Google is the most important source of online shoppers, and some say they cannot afford to pay to list all their products.
Google would not say how many retailers were paying for listings, except to say there was "significant participation."
Meanwhile, Amazon has already removed its listings from Google Shopping. Looking for a Kindle? Google Shopping shows Kindles from Best Buy, eBay and sites called Fumfie and Glyde -- but not Amazon.
Amazon, though, has not ruled out paying Google for inclusion of its products, according to a person briefed on its strategy who would speak only anonymously. And, the company continue to buy AdWords ads that appear in regular web searches on Google.com and Google Shopping on the top and at the bottom of SERPs.
But the products won't show up in the Google Shopping product listings.