Google Product Search is to be replaced by an all new business model based around the pay to play concept.
Google Shopping will only list products by merchants who have paid for inclusion. The change represents the first occasion that Google will decommission a search product that had previously listed companies for free.
The search engine giant says that the change will be to the benefit of the user and improve the search experience. But the move is also likely to raise concern for the future of free listings elsewhere.
Sameer Samat, vice president of product management for Google Shopping explained the Google Shopping "is about delivering the best answers for people searching for products and helping connect merchants with the right customers".
The company believes that by moving to an all paid listings model, they will be able to provide better and more trustworthy data, and in doing so make shopping via Google better.
Whether or not this turns out to be the case remains to be seen. The change will not yet take place in full. First a series of isolated experiments of the new format will be carried out with a wider launch taking place in the summer, for US search users. The Google Shopping format will not be finalised and rolled out in full until the end of the year.
The change to Google Shopping, outside of the US, will not occur until next year.
Google Product Search is already called Google Shopping in some countries around the world, but crucially the paid listings model has not yet been introduced.
HitSearch director Andy Redfern commented "This is something we have predicted for a long time and from Google's point of view it will no doubt make financial sense. Luckily UK customers will not be affected until after Christmas next year which will provide some much needed respite. Large retail sites typically can see up to 25% of their revenue coming from Google shopping so the UK will have to look towards how the payment mechanism is rolled out in the US first before planning for its impact."
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