Understanding Comparison Shopping Services

Following the recent launch of our CSS solution and the announcement of our Premium Google Comparison Shopping Partner Status, our Head of Performance, Max Flajsner, led a highly insightful webinar explaining Google’s latest platform.

Comparison Shopping Services (CSS) were a huge industry in the 90s, but after Google launched Google Shopping they noticed that their search traffic was being decimated as they were forced down the SERP. One lawsuit and a record-breaking €2.4 billion fine later, and Google have been instructed to clean up their act. In response, Google has opened the doors for CSSs to buy Google Shopping space.

The biggest benefit of using a CSS is that you can save over 20% just by signing up. As an incentive, Google introduced a 20% discount on CPCs in the SERP, making you 20% richer in the auction, and a Spend Match, giving you ad credits based on your spend within a 30 day period.

How does it work?

CSS Shopping campaigns work almost identically to Google Shopping. While you do need a different Merchant Centre, this looks mostly like the standard one with a few additional functions. You also manage your activity through your usual Google Ads account. Within Google Ads, you’ll see your discount appearing as part of your campaign performance metrics – which should be 20% better – and your Spend Match vouchers will appear like any other voucher from Google.

On the SERP, you will never serve the same product more than once, which means that you will never be bidding or second priced against yourself. When a user clicks on the product name they will be directed straight to your product page, or if they click on the CSS name they will be redirected to the CSS with the search term pre-populated.

When setting up your new Merchant Centre you have two options: to clone your Google Merchant Centre or switch over. The choice will depend on who you are as a brand and the kind of measurement you want to see.

Cloning

  • You’ll be able to test performance of CSS vs Google for yourself.
  • You can split traffic by Shopping tab/SERP.
  • You will lose campaign data from previous campaigns
  • It will take longs to make changes.
  • We suggest you lower your bids by 15% and slowly scale up to account for the discount. At the same time, you should scale your shopping bids down.

Switching

  • You can keep all of your old campaign management.
  • There’s no change to your GMC management.
  • You can’t manually test CSS vs Google.
  • You can’t split SERP and Shopping tab data.

How to pick a CSS Partner

There are 4 main things to keep in mind when choosing your CSS Partner.

  • Are they direct linking? Do they send users straight to your product page or do a redirect to their site first?
  • How strong is their Google Shopping Offering? Since CSS Shopping campaigns are exactly the same as Google Shopping campaigns, you’ll want to investigate their prowess on Google Shopping to give you an indication of how their CSS Shopping will fare.
  • What commercial model do they use? Depending on your needs, be it gap coverage on an affiliate CPA model or the traditional agency model, you’ll need to see who offers what you’re looking for.
  • What level of servicing do they provide? Do they offer reporting or dashboards? How often push feeds to the CSS GMC, and how often do they update their site.

To find out more about NMPi’s CSS solution, visit our Comparison Shopping Services page or read our latest case study from client Watch Shop.