If you are a keen observer (or Googler of products) you would have noticed some changes to Google’s Product Listing Ads (a.k.a Google Shopping).

Three months ago the European antitrust commission slapped a hefty €2.4 billion fine on the search giant for what it judged as unfair treatment of other vendors. It gave Google 90 days to reform and today Google has responded.

Basically, when you search Google for particular products, you will see at the top of the text results some product listings that you can browse. These listings were all placed there by advertisers who paid Google for the space. The trouble (at least as the Commission sees) is that there are other comparison sites that have lost business as the sheer size of Google has allowed it to dominate the market. Consequently they also accuse Google of downgrading their products in the regular text based search results.

Google had until today to comply with the Commissions ruling and as you will see from today, there is now an additional line underneath each ad which tells you who the advertiser is.

Basically Google has turned the Google Shopping service into an auction where other price comparision sites can bid for space so that their products can show up on Google too with a link back to their own sites.

The jury is out as to whether this will be acceptable to the Commission but one thing is for sure: your online business is never 100% safe when you depend on a third party like Google, or any other service, for traffic.

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