Commentary

How Local Services Would Change Google, Bing Shopping

The brands Google and Bing potentially forfeit millions of dollars annually by not making local and national services available through their Shopping sites. Ratings and recommendations, which are key to providing input for consumers, would assist to rank results. It would put Google and Bing in direct competition with sites like Angie's List, Yelp or even Groupon and Living Social.

Search on "house cleaning" in Google Shopping and the query returns a long list of physical cleaning items from brands like Simple Green and CLR, but there's nothing related to services. Huge mistake.

Some think it's more difficult to classify information related to services like dog walking or babysitting, and then send the data to Google in a feed. "It's easier to classify a product compared with a service," per Kevin Lee, Didit CEO, which owns Inceptor, a company that supports product listing ad feeds. "PLAs work well at the generic and product level. Consumers can easily compare prices of a Nikon camera body with a Canon camera body, whereas services become more complicated."

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Google will work out the kinks and the industry will begin to see services offered through a shopping ads platform within the next year, but that platform will likely have elements of Google+, per one source. There is no confirmation from Google or Bing on whether this is true.

Some believe Google has given up on Google+ as a social media platform, but will use the technology to provide a services platform connected with Google Places and business listings. That would mean taking elements of Shopping to launch a new platform focusing on services.

Bing Ads does not offer ad products specific to only services, but it does tie the ad unit into Bing Maps. "There is no product ad for services at this time," per a Microsoft spokesperson. "We are constantly evaluating new ad products and functionality to help consumers more efficiently find what they need and advertisers to effectively participate in this decision journey. At this time we have no new updates to provide on service specific products."

For those with products promoting and selling through Google Shopping, Christopher Ratcliff explains how to get started with PLAs. Brands feed product descriptions and images to Google, bidding on ad placement. The step-by-step process provides details on creating campaigns, and managing product inventory and product groups.

This should be thought-provoking -- and give a little nudge to Google and Bing.

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