With Google’s CSS (Comparison Shopping Service) model, advertisers have the opportunity to implement their shopping campaigns in cooperation with a price comparison portal. Why CSS partnerships are worthwhile for online shops and what needs to be considered.

After Google was punished in 2017 for abusing its monopoly power in Google Shopping and introduced the CSS (Comparison Shopping Service) model, online shops advertising have the opportunity to implement their shopping campaigns in cooperation with a price comparison portal.

The end of the shopping monopoly

Since the EU’s record competition penalty, Google’s own Google Shopping Europe (GSE) service is no longer the only price comparison service that can be used to bid for advertising space on Google Shopping. Since then, GSE has had to take part in auctions with external providers – the so-called Comparison Shopping Services. Similar to the tax advertisements, the bidder with the highest bid secures the advertisement.

Since then, advertisers have had the choice of either implementing their Google Shopping campaigns themselves or entering into cooperation with CSS partners who submit bids on behalf of the retailer. Traditional price comparison providers are also given equal opportunities and the opportunity to be more visible in the product search engine.

Lower CPCs through Google Shopping CSS

While the conversion to the CSS model is hardly apparent to users, the advertising online shop receives considerable price savings: For shopping ads via Google Shopping Europe, Google charges a 20 percent margin on the click prices, which are not applicable for delivery via the CSS partner.

As a result, the auction is also reduced by the ad rank by 20 percent, which has a direct impact on the advertiser’s performance and can mean a decisive disadvantage compared to the competition. In order to generate attention for the new shopping model and avoid further penalties, Google dropped the corresponding commission for CSS partnerships – to the advantage of the advertiser.

What to look for in CSS partnerships

Most CSS providers pay a monthly fee for the cost of running their own price comparison service.

Small traders in particular with a low budget should therefore double-check whether the margin that is lost may be offset by the fixed costs of the CSS partnership. For large online shops, however, working with one or more partners is usually profitable.

In addition to the available budget, the strategy is also decisive: especially retailers who have placed their focus on performance and efficiency can benefit from CSS partnerships. Since the close cooperation with a CSS requires trust, advertisers should also attach importance to the quality and the support service of the provider.

It’s time to switch

Working with a CSS brings about 20% savings on the CPC for Google Shopping for every online shop. There are no disadvantages.

So if you want to fight for the best ad spaces with a full bid on Google Shopping, you can’t avoid using CSS.


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