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Etsy Investing in Google Product Listing Ads for Sellers

Jan 8, 2013

by hirefrank handmade and vintage goods

Update: Over the last three months, Etsy devoted more than a quarter of a million dollars to promote our sellers in the now paid-only Google Shopping service with Google Product Listing Ads. Shoppers are constantly using Internet search tools to look for the unique, one-of-a-kind items that you can find on Etsy. This initial trial allowed us to capture more traffic to the marketplace from these searches, especially during the holiday season. In order to proceed with evaluating these ads as an added marketing channel for our sellers, we’ve decided to continue purchasing them on behalf of our sellers for at least the first half of 2013, with the same terms as before.

So far, Product Listing Ads have generated 14 million visits directly to Etsy listings, nearly a third from visitors new to Etsy! We are maintaining experiments with listing pages that are reached from Product Listing Ads to help new visitors discover additional items in which they may be interested. As Google expands its service to other countries, we’re also committed to investigating Product Listing Ad opportunities for our international sellers to participate.

We’re excited to be able to continue to bring new shoppers to the site and give our sellers this extra advertising traffic. Join us in this forum thread for any questions or comments.

Below is the original blog post that was published on September 24.

As we near the end of September, we know many Etsy sellers are starting to focus on their holiday promotion and how they can make this season a success. We’re always looking for ways to help sellers, and want to make sure they have every opportunity to show off their items to as many shoppers as possible on and off Etsy.

We often see questions from the community about why we don’t do more advertising for Etsy. Though you may not have seen them, we have been running a variety of different campaigns over the past year, from banner advertisements on relevant sites, to sponsored links on search engines, to various ad formats on Facebook and Twitter. We’ve even tested with video ads on Hulu. We’ve invested over a million dollars this year, and we will continue to do so. We’re excited to let you know about our upcoming investment in Google Product Listing Ads where we will be devoting more than a quarter of a million dollars for our sellers!

What are Google Product Listing Ads?

Google announced earlier this year that their product discovery experience, Google Product Search, will be moving towards a paid-only model renamed Google Shopping in the US. Beginning October 1, 2012, Google Shopping will exclusively feature paid ads, called Google Product Listing Ads. These ads are also featured in Google search results (and contain product information like image and price). We know many of you have been discussing what this means, as currently Google Product Listings have been unpaid and have driven traffic to many Etsy shops.

Without making a change, Etsy sellers could lose visitors and visibility during the most crucial time of year. To keep the steady flow of traffic to the marketplace and to better evaluate the value of Google’s paid ad offering, we’re excited to announce we will be purchasing Google Product Listing Ads on behalf of our sellers through the end of 2012.

How can sellers participate?  

Starting October 2, 2012, English language listings that ship to the US will automatically be included in relevant Etsy sponsored Google Product Listing Ads without any additional fees! By working closely with Google, we’re now able to expand the number of syndicated sellers and allow more shops to be represented in Google Shopping. Because of Google’s country specific restrictions, listings not in English will not be promoted in the Google Shopping experience in the US; however we will monitor the expansion of Google Shopping to other countries in the event that we continue these ads next year, to make sure our international sellers are represented in their countries as well. Traffic from Product Listing Ads will be reported in Shop Stats, so you can track the action in your neck of the woods.

Since this is a large investment for Etsy, we’ll be looking at the data to evaluate whether these purchased ads are successful in driving sales and bringing new members to Etsy. Currently, we know that over half the people who land on listing pages from these offsite ads leave immediately — we want to change that! To ensure we are making the most of these visits, we’ll be experimenting with the listing pages that come from Google Product Listing Ads. The item that the shopper clicks on from Google will always be front and center, but we may introduce new modules to the page to see if visitors are more likely to make purchases or sign up for Etsy (leading to more purchases down the road) if we show them more items. For example they may see something like this:

Listing pages reached from Product Listing Ads may also include other items from your shop or similar items from other shops to help new visitors discover additional items they may be interested in. Accordingly, items from your shop may be shown to buyers on other sellers’ listing pages as well.

Sellers can always opt out of the free Product Listing Ads, but will lose the eligibility to be featured as a similar item on other sellers’ advertised listing pages.

We’re optimistic that Product Listing Ads will be a successful way to continue bringing new visitors to Etsy; however, given the investment we cannot promise we’ll continue to support these ads in 2013. We will be sharing our findings with the seller community before making any significant changes for the coming year. Join the discussion in this forum thread. We hope these ads will help bring more members from the wider world of the web to the Etsy community!