FairSearch - for the right result

Google Shopping Paid-Only Listings Hurts Consumers, Small Businesses

On Monday, a New York Times article highlighted a recent change to Google Shopping, which now requires e-commerce companies to pay to be included in results. So much for Google following its own ‘do no evil’ philosophy of “providing the best user experience possible” (don’t take our word for it, that’s from Google’s own ‘philosophy’ page of “things we know to be true.”)

As a result, consumers will no longer see the best possible Shopping results that are available online, instead they will only see results from stores that can afford Google’s advertising rates, which are higher than they would be in a truly competitive market for online advertising (see here for more).

“The social commerce experience for both consumers and merchants should be a mutually trustworthy and enjoyable one,” says Siva Kumar, CEO of TheFind, a FairSearch member. “When Google places paid-for Google Shopping results in the middle of natural search results, it hurts both consumers and retailers, and is damaging to the industry in the long run. Consumers will no longer see everything on Google Shopping that is available online. Even from stores that can afford Google’s rates, people may pay higher prices, and small businesses are going to be hurt.”

Leaving consumers in the dark about what is a natural result of Google’s search algorithm, and what is a paid Google Shopping listing undermines the ability of small businesses to compete online, and is not healthy to fostering innovation on the Internet.

Unless law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere move to put an end to Google’s abuse of its dominance, the search giant will continue to mislead consumers and siphon off monopoly profits while steering users to its own sites and away from any potential competitor for traffic.