Google Shopping‘s pay-to-play service is going global. The commerce-focused vertical formerly known as Google Product Search, is now expanding the roll out of its commercial model to other countries outside the U.S., including the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, Australia and Switzerland. The announcement comes on the heels of the completion of the U.S. transition last month.
At one time, Google Product Search was just a narrower window on Google Search results, with results ranked by algorithms. But in May, the company announced it would rename this vertical Google Shopping, and turn it into a paid listings service. Google explained at the time that there are some areas on the web where Google is not able to index and rank publicly available content, but rather where it has to form partnerships with other companies in order to access their data. Shopping information is one of these areas, it said, as is data related to finding hotels, booking flights, and accessing financial info, for example. Google has transitioned some of these areas to paid services already, including hotel, flight and financial product information.
Today, Google Shopping in the U.S. no longer includes organic results generated by scouring the web, but now ranks results based on relevance and bidding, the latter which determines the result’s placement. It has also updated its Product Listing Ads toolkit with additional features to help advertisers target Google Shopping more granularly, including at the product level.
As with the U.S. transition previously, the proverbial switch isn’t being thrown immediately in these new markets. Instead, Google is announcing the transition only, giving merchants time to adjust. In a post on Google’s Commerce blog, the company explains that the first major change will go live on February 13th, 2013 – after the holidays, as merchants will likely be happy to note. At that point, Google Shopping search results will change to include commercial formats labeled as “Sponsored,” appearing now in the space occupied by Adwords ads. The full transition will then take place by Q2 2013, but Google says early tests will begin as of today.