There is a new report from Searchmetrics that examines Product Listing Ads results in UK, France Germany and found that there was more competition since January. The report says, “the number and diversity of comparison shopping services appearing in Google Shopping units has dramatically increased.”
The European Commission fined Google roughly $2.7 billion in 2017 for alleged antitrust violations in shopping search. After that decision, Google implemented changes that would provide equal treatment for rival Comparison Shopping Services (CSS) in Europe. In this context, Searchmetrics is assessing Google’s progress.
The firm’s analysis was conducted this fall, and compared its findings to an earlier study done in January 2018. The study done in January fount that Google’s CSS competitors occupied less than 1 percent of results in the UK, while Germany had about 2 percent of results. But today, according to the chart below, those numbers grew significantly to roughly a third of all PLA results across the three countries measured.
However, the report says that a number of the CSS providers appearing in the ad units aren’t “established online price comparison sites.” Basically, these companies are acting as agencies on behalf of merchants, and many of them are new market entrants. Searchmetrics observes that for these CSS “agencies,” their own product comparison pages are irrelevant since CTRs go directly to merchant sites.
But this observation is the same criticism of Google by CSS players who have been around much longer, who had written an open letter to the European Commission about their frustration with the state the PLA remedy. They have made the claim that their situation is getting worse, arguing the PLA auction forces them to “bid away the vast majority of their profit.” The feel that since clicks on PLAs go to merchants and not CSS landing pages, they have no opportunity to “derive value from the process.”