5 Reasons Why Google Shopping Conversions Decreased for Q4 2012

By Tinuiti Team

In our Q4 2012 comparison shopping engine rankings, Google Shopping dominated many of the engine metrics such as traffic and revenue. For conversion rate however, Google came in fourth place overall for the holiday season, lower even than the its own numbers from the previous quarter.

Q4 2012 Google Shopping Conversion Rate drop

Why the Decrease in Conversions From Google Shopping?

This article explores some possible explanations:

1. No Amazon Listings on Google Product Listing Ads

Amazon and other merchant’s who opted-out of Google Shopping search results sent more consumers directly to Amazon and other retailer websites directly after finding out they could not be accessed through Google Shopping.

This is the case for Amazon products as well as restricted products on Google Shopping, such as wine, tobacco products and weapons.

2. Google Product Listing Ads Is Still Young

Google’s Product Listing Ads is still a very new program (around 1 year old). Continued experimentation with Google Product Listing Ad placements and the shuffling of other Google properties in search results could definitely impact conversion rates.

Implementing a CPC bid into a larger algorithm is hard. Google has it down with Adwords, but it’s a new experience with Google Shopping. Images are involved. Such a big algorithmic change can lead to temporary or permanent decreases in conversion rates as Google works out the perfect balance between getting paid and showing the best possible products for consumers.

Google is continually refining its algorithm for Google Shopping, as well as adding user centered features such as trusted sellers. Any and all of these variables are likely affecting PLA conversion rate.

3. Merchants Are Still Learning Product Listing Ads Best Practices

Google Product Listing Ads is a new ordeal for many merchants, particularly those without 6 months of click-stream data to make optimizations and Ad Group bids. Merchants unfamiliar with PLA bidding and best practices are more likely to make more mistakes, especially since PLAs are not managed like AdWords. Also, many retailers’ agencies have never worked with data feeds (product inventory spreadsheets) before, a major technical component to a successful Google Shopping campaign.

4. Google Shopping Search Is Not Complete

Google Shopping search results are still being built out, and there were quite a few product gaps when Google Shopping went official with the new paid Google Shopping model. For example, in Q3 and Q4, searches for dog food would show n0 results on Google. We also saw n0 results for some beauty product searches. These hiccups in Google Shopping’s catalog may have put a damper on Google Shopping conversion rates.

5. Google Got Villified By Many When It Switched to Paid Shopping with Product Listing Ads

Many people were upset about the Google Shopping switch to paid cost per click listings. Although traffic and revenue for Google Shopping dominated this quarter, some of that antipathy may be responsible for the reduction in conversions for PLAs.


What do you think is responsible for the holiday conversion rate decrease for Google Shopping?



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