Back in June, the search engine was fined a record 2.4-billion euros ($2.7 billion) for favoring its own content in the shopping search results over that of other Shopping Comparison services such as Kelkoo and Shopzilla.
When the fine was handed down, a binding order from the European Commission ordered the search engine to give equal treatment to its rival price comparison sites. EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager gave Google 90 days to come up with methods to facilitate that equal treatment and remove bias towards Google Shopping.
Google VP of Engineering Oliver Heckmann has now announced that its competitors will be able to bid for a placement in the Shopping box alongside Google’s own Shopping service. As part of this change, Google Shopping will now operate as a standalone business unit and must bid for placement like any other advertiser.
Google has outlined how to sign up as a Comparison Shopping Service in its help center and listed a host of minimum requirements.
What does this change mean for advertisers?
This change means that all slots within the product listing ads will now be open to auction. Google competitors will be able to bid for any space and no slots will be reserved for Google Shopping.
Comparison Shopping Engines will bid directly against Google for product placement and against other Comparison Shopping Engines.
Google Shopping will have to operate as any other advertiser and bid against Google customers for product listing ads.
The Shopping unit will be reviewed at regular intervals by the EU Commission to ensure it’s operating fairly and competing fairly.
The change for search users?
Search users in Europe will see products listed displaying either a Google Shopping tag or the relevant Comparison Shopping Engine such as Shopzilla.
Google Europe tweeted a pic of how a product search will look.
As of now, new services haven’t yet been seen in the UK.
Users clicking on the ad will go through to the product page on the relevant advertiser’s site as before.
The change affects comparison shopping services in EEA countries where Shopping ads are available, so Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.