What are free product listings on Google?

Google Ads announced last month that unpaid shopping product listings would begin rolling out, featuring non-ad based product listings on Google’s Search and Shopping SERPs.  

With this update, paid product listings will continue to be served at the top and bottom of Search and Shopping results pages, but unpaid listings will show organically like Google search organic results.  The Google Shopping tab now consists primarily of free listings.

Google’s stated goal with this update is improving the connection between merchants and consumers, regardless of whether the advertiser is currently using Google advertising.  

This is a monumental update that puts Google in direct competition with Amazon as an eCommerce platform.  More competition among eCommerce platforms means better advertising tools for retailers!

How do you opt in to free product listings?

Advertisers that are current users of Merchant Center and Shopping ads and have opted into the surfaces across Google program will automatically be eligible for unpaid experiences.  

New users of Merchant Center can opt into the program in the “Manage programs” section of the Merchant Center dashboard.

Unpaid click reporting can be found within the Merchant Center Dashboard under the Performance dropdown.

Early Results Of Free Product Listings

Free product listings rolled out for most US accounts at the end of April. Unpaid clicks metrics are now available within Google Merchant Center, allowing advertisers to quantify the impact of unpaid clicks.

One brand I work with is a well-known fitness industry retailer.  Since launching free product listings on April 23, they have increased total click volume by 5.6%.  

Daily unpaid click volume has remained relatively consistent since launching.  Additionally, unpaid click traffic was unaffected when budgets and click traffic increased in the paid shopping campaigns.

What should small businesses do about free product listings?

Google’s unpaid shopping listing update will force advertisers to evolve to succeed in the new Google ecosystem.

Small retailers who had not previously advertised with Google Shopping should take advantage of unpaid listings by setting up a Merchant Center account and creating a product feed.  The unpaid listing update will have the biggest impact on small advertisers since their total click traffic will increase by the highest percentage.

What should paid media marketers do about free product listings?

Advertisers already running Google Shopping campaigns will need to pivot to optimizing their product feeds to improve organic results.  Optimizing product titles, descriptions, categories, imagery, etc. will make products more discoverable and improve Google’s ability to deliver unpaid product listings.  Optimized product feeds should also improve paid results.  Double win!