Google has been quietly experimenting with a price-tracking feature across a selection of its product searches on Google.com, which shows the savings on a given item in its Product Listing Ads as a “percentage off average.” The tests have been live on a small number of queries for several months, and are a continuation of earlier efforts in showcasing items that are on sale by way of Google’s product ads.
The latest experiment was first spotted by ChannelAdvisor, which noted the resemblance of the new feature to one that Search Engine Land uncovered earlier in May. At the time, these ads were highlighting discounted products by tagging them with text reading “Value Alert” underneath the current price.
The newer tests have been underway for months, but ChannelAdvisor notes that these ads have been showing up more frequently just recently.
Google would not comment on how or from where it’s pulling the data to determine the average online price. However, ChannelAdvisor, in testing this out, found that Google seems to be averaging all the listings of a particular item on Google Shopping, excluding tax, in order to make its determination.
For example, in the case of a KitchenAid Mixer, ChannelAdvisor discovered that the price was 13.9 percent off inclusive of shopping but including tax. “This suggests that Google is using all of the models that are listed on Google Shopping, as opposed to just the subset featured in the Product Listing Ad,” the company explained in a blog post detailing its findings.
In addition to the fact that Google is now moving into the price-comparison space, ChannelAdvisor also tells us that the tests are notable because it represents a shift from Google’s traditional method of operating on a cost-per-click model with no preference given to a lower price. The company theorizes the experiment could have come about because larger marketplaces like Amazon, and potentially newcomer Jet.com, have the potential to continue to eat away at Google’s business. That is, instead of turning to Google’s search engine to locate products, consumers just go directly to Amazon’s website to find low-priced items.
Asked to comment on the experiment, a Google spokesperson responded, “as part of our efforts to help people find great deals and useful pricing information, we’re currently running a small test of a feature that highlights particularly good prices for products.” The company declined to provide further details on the matter, citing its early stages.