Google's Froogle Supports Local Shopping Search

Right before Black Friday Google unveils a new local shopping tool. Froogle now mashes up with Google maps. According to a Silicon Valley article:

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company developed the free tool to help consumers avoid the frustration of traveling to a store that no longer has an item on their shopping lists, said Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer products.

Froogle, a comparison shopping site that Google launched three years ago, will continue to give visitors the option to buy the merchandise online. Google receives a commission for the online referrals.

I am not sure what they meant with that Google receives a commission bit. Is that just for the ads near it? In 2003 when Mike Grehan interviewed Craig Nevill-Manning, Craig said:

BUT - the bottom line is - they are unpaid listings, they're unbiased. They're the best results we can find for those products online. ... It'll be free forever.

The New York Times made it sound as though the Silicon Valley article was misquoting or overtly vague in their description of how this service will make Google money.

The service will be freely available to merchants in the United States, Ms. Mayer said. Google, as it frequently notes, plans to gain revenue from the new Froogle service by placing relevant text ads on the same page as the local results.

The company also believes that it gains revenue when users employ Google more frequently as its services become more useful.

The Silicon Valley article also stated:

Initially, Google is depending on a contractor to pull the inventory information from several hundred major merchants. The search engine hopes to make the service even comprehensive by encouraging stores to submit their own customized merchandises list to the newly created "Google Base" - an information clearinghouse for everything from family recipes to scientific formulas.

What vertical search site is safe?

A while ago Battelle had a highly related post about comparison shopping called The Transparent (Shopping) Society. The New York Times made it sound like the eventual goal of this launch is spot on with what John was describing:

Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at NPD Group, a market research firm in Port Washington, N.Y., said that if Froogle delivered up-to the-minute inventory updates from retailers, "consumers will finally know whether a trip to a store is worthwhile."

Google wants to be the default inventory information clearinghouse. Users love defaults. I am guessing the value of being the default shopping search site is worth far more than any value they would extract by charging for the feeds, at least off the start. Just like with regular search, there will be incentive for merchants to spam this service. Any idea how Google will fend off spam if they aren't charging? Or are they charging?

Published: November 22, 2005

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