Shamsul ChowdhuryBy Shamsul Chowdhury, New York office

 We made an interesting paid search discovery whilst admiring our Managing Director’s cable knit sweater.  He disclosed that the garment was from Scotch & Soda, a store in Soho that also sells their clothing through other retailers. So, we decided to search the brand and check out what else they had. 

The result was interesting:

Scotch & Soda

The top paid search result was an ad for retailer Park and Bond. However, the product feed incorporated into the ad showed listings from other retailers , not just parkandbond.com – Zappos, Piperlime and Saks Fifth Avenue were some of the retailers whose product feed was embedded.

Upon further research, another ad appeared with a similar feed inclusion of their own as well as other retailer’s product feeds.

Zappos

 Ads of retail advertisers in other industries are also acting like this:

hp printers

The retail space in Paid Search has long been an area of innovation with ad formats. Whether by design or unintentionally, this is the first time when potential competitors are being grouped together.

It is interesting that instead of having individual ads, some advertisers are being grouped together, whilst others continue showing up separately on the ‘right rail’. With one ad dominating as the main ad (in this case, Park and Bond), others within the grouping are piggy-backing off it.

What might be going on here? 

What’s happening here is that Google is bunching retailers together that offer the same/similar products to help consumers find products easier. As a retailer, you may be worried that other competitors are within your ad space, but Google makes a valid point in stating that it helps potential consumers easily shop around with just one search. In the HP example above, a consumer can see which of the three retailers are offering the best price for an HP Printer without having to do multiple searches.  

Parting Thoughts

It seems that Google is creating a virtual shopping mall in the results page. This isn’t exactly something new for Google since they’ve been doing it in the organic results for a while:

 leather jackets

It appears that paid search results are the latest installment…