Recent Changes in Comparison Shopping Engine Policies

From new product definitions from Google to newly launched services from Bing, one of our Marketing Specialists explains recent changes to comparison shopping engine policies.

It’s always a good idea to keep up to date with any changes that could have an impact on your business, and that is especially true when engaging in any kind of paid marketing or advertising, be it pay-per-click text ads or a shopping feeds campaign. With changes happening sometimes with little fanfare or warning, you could potentially find yourself in some unexpected trouble or missing a great opportunity you didn’t know existed. With that in mind, here are some changes that have recently affected shopping feeds.

As usual, the majority of changes came from Google, the largest shopping engine platform in terms of search volume. Google has recently updated their shopping policies and added a list of dangerous products to their restricted list. Of note is that Google no longer allows the advertisement of “functional devices that appear to discharge a projectile at high velocity, whether for sport, self-defense, or combat," which have recently been expanded to include airsoft and paintball guns. In addition, Google will no longer allow the promotion of accessories or components to these guns that are necessary of their function, such as scopes, ammunition, and ammunition clips and belts. Please note that this change in policy can be enforced at the domain level, meaning that Google may disapprove or suspend your entire campaign, even if the offending products are taken out of the feed file. If your site contains products that are affected by this new policy change, one way to address it would be to create a new domain or subdomain for your “safe” products, and use that domain for your AdWords campaign.

There are other, less far-reaching changes that have been made to Google as well. As of September 30th, Google has made some minor tweaks to their shopping feed specifications for ease of use. These changes and revisions may require corrections to your product data. Pay special attention to these changes if you sell apparel items, as Google has introduced several new values to the age group field, and has also introduced two new size attributes (size system and size type) to allow for additional product filtering. There’s a lot of information that will affect many different merchants, so be sure to read about all the necessary changes you need to make to your product information.

Changes are happening with other shopping engines as well. In a recent press release, Shopzilla announced that they will be changing the name of their company to Connexity and will expand their focus to include technology driven marketing solutions, while still offering their comparison shopping services. Amazon is making changes too, launching a new and improved campaign manager – adding automatic targeting to the PPC management tool for their Sponsored Products program.

In addition, Bing – after putting their free Bing Shopping service on hiatus – has launched their revamped paid Bing Product Ads (BPA) program, mirroring Google’s model for their Shopping platform. By moving over to an exclusively paid model, merchants can expect greater control and more qualified traffic to their site, as well as advanced competitive metrics to help make informed budgetary decisions.

The world of paid search is always changing, but Volusion is here to help! If you have any questions or concerns about shopping feeds, leave a comment below. And if you are interested in starting up a campaign of your own, fee free to reach out to us!