The idea that Google's Shopping engine has harmed consumers by not presenting valuable search engines (comparison engines) does not matter. Google Shopping Ads feature product images, seller ratings, prices, and links to merchant websites. Merchants compete for position in these results. If consumers generally don't like the results they get on Google, they can look elsewhere. And that's exactly what consumers have started doing - on Amazon . In 2012, Google started the process of migrating from its free shopping engine Google Product Search to a purely paid product called Google Shopping.
The reason for this decision, in Google's words at the time, was "to provide the best answers to people searching for products and to help merchants find the right customers." It hasn't been said that Amazon gives consumers a much better product search experience than Google. Merchants have regularly abused Google's free jewelry retouching service system or failed to keep their feeds up to date with appropriate pricing and availability. It was a bad user experience. Another alternative was to click on listings or ads for competing CSEs and go to another list of search results. Not ideal either. The move to a paid version was controversial, but the higher barrier to entry – and tighter monitoring of merchant data to ensure accuracy – has largely led to better results for users and for merchants.
That's why this product has been such a hit for Google. (And that's probably why the EC focused on that instead of another vertical.) How important is Shopping to Google? Product Offering Ads (PLAs) have been a huge hit for Google from a revenue and search share perspective. Globally, searches for products are up 45% over the past year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during last quarter's earnings call. PLAs accounted for 52% of Google ad clicks in Q1 2017 among digital marketing agency Merkle's retail clients, up from 48% in Q4 2016. text ads. Source: