Opportunity knocks: Two landscape-shaking changes
In 2017 Google incurred a massive fine from the European Commission due to anti-competitive practices with Google Shopping. The results were threefold:
- Comparison Shopping Networks (CSSs) were, for the first time, allowed to place their own ads as Google Shopping results.
- Google started running Shopping at a profit, taking a margin of spend (believed to be around 20%). This meant that, when routing spend through Google Shopping directly, around 80p in the pound went to the bid. However, CSSs such as Genie Shopping didn’t have to charge a margin; so, when you bid £1 the full £1 went into bidding.
- Genie Shopping were able to move fast to offer a CSS CPA service, which facilitates the ability to drive additional revenue for retailers through Google Shopping results.
AO.com: A market leader ready to move fast
AO is a leader in the electronic goods industry. Founded in 2000, the company has grown aggressively and is now listed on the London Stock Exchange, driving an estimated £600m in revenue in 2016.
Importantly for us, AO.com was willing to be a leader in taking advantage of this CSS opportunity, despite it being a new and uncertain landscape. But the reward was an incredible opportunity for AO.com to save 20% of its paid search spend.
We made this work through the Genie Shopping Network (GSN), which powers the comparison-shopping services Crowdstorm and Cafe La Moda: with Crowdstorm being one of the first CSSs given the green light to bid on Shopping ads when Google opened them up.
Through GSN, AO.com’s ads would appear in the same way as they always had in Google Shopping; except instead of saying ‘By Google’ at the bottom of each ad, it would say ‘By Crowdstorm’.
Aims and Implementation: Quick changes and a bold hypothesis
The changes were big and fast-moving, so predictions were hard to make. However, this provided the perfect opportunity to do what Genie does best – make a bold hypothesis and test it. Success would be judged by:
- Sales would be additional to AO.com’s existing Google Shopping sales
- AO.com’s existing Google Shopping CPCs would not increase
- AO.com’s category impression share and sales would increase overall
- Genie Shopping would drive quality customers to AO.com
Contact between GSN and AO.com was constant, with both trying to navigate the rapidly developing terrain. While the changes were exciting they also required close attention, solid reporting and strategic thinking.
The results from January to May 2018 were extremely positive, showing the CSS CPA service provides additional sales without competing against a retailer’s own Google Shopping campaigns.
- Sales were additional and revenue generated by Genie Shopping from Shopping Ads increased 263%
- AO.com’s existing Google Shopping CPCs did not increase
- AO.com’s category impression share grew over the period and, when adding the impression share generated by Genie, grew significantly overall
- The customers Genie Shopping drove to AO.com over-indexed in the ‘wealthy’, ‘Older well off’ and ‘Younger mid affluence’ profile groups.
The results proved our hypothesis to be correct: sales and impression share were successfully increased without negatively impacting AO’s original Google Shopping PLAs. We demonstrated the potential of running Shopping ads through a CSS, which allowed us to push the bids without having to take some of the investment as margin.