With Google Shopping CSS Partners popping up left and right, and with Europe’s decision to enforce other marketplaces to bid for ad slots on Google Web Search (Not Google Shopping). I found that a lot of my clients require some clarifications on the subject. So to avoid merchants making a mistake jumping ship from Google Shopping CSS to a Partner CSS based on limited information, check the below first.
1: Do I Need To Use A Specific CSS Partner
Here the majority of confusion start. No, you do not need to use any specific CSS partner. Google itself is also a CSS Partner. You can choose to stay with Google or use a 3rd party CSS Partner. EU regulation does not state you have to use a 3rd party partner. So you can choose whichever partner to advertise your product ads.
2: CSS Partners Advertising Areas
A CSS Partner, including Google CSS, can only advertise on Google Web Search, not Google Shopping, Google Images, or Google Assistant. For example, a 3rd party CSS Partner cannot advertise on Google Shopping. They can only advertise on Google Web Search. Currently, there are two sections, the carousel, and the right sidebar.
3: Your Ad Will Only Show Once
You can use multiple CSS partners. However, your ad will only show once. Although you may sometimes see your ads multiple times in the early stages while Google is improving the service, ultimately, this will not be the case. The partner with the highest bid wins the ad slot, and you pay the lowest to win that slot.
|Offers uploaded through||Merchant||Bid placed by CSS||Price paid by winning CSS if their ad is clicked|
|CSS A||Merchant 1 (you)||30||20|
|CSS B||Merchant 1 (you)||25||—|
|CSS A||Merchant 2||20||—|
|CSS A||Merchant 3||15||—|
4: A CSS Partner Will Offer You 20% Discount
Read and reread the contract. A CSS Partner can only offer such discounts as Google is offering the partner an early adoption bonus. When the discount is finished, the 3rd party CSS Partner does not receive the extra discount. And from experience, I can only expect the CSS Partner to pass on the additional costs to the merchant when this has finished. So be very careful in thinking you get a great deal. Check the policies twice! Also, make sure you read how you get the discount, do you get it instantly, do you require to meet a minimum spend, etc.
Currently, CSS Partners can receive rewards when they meet targets. Unfortunately, from personal experience, this means to get you to spend more money.
5: Where Can I Find A CSS Partner
You can find all the official certified partners here https://comparisonshoppingpartners.withgoogle.com/find_a_partner/
6: Google CSS Charges A Fixed Service Fee
Some CSS Partners are claiming Google CSS is charging a fixed service fee. That is entirely wrong and false information. These claims are created to make you change CSS Partners. So let me set the record straight. Google CSS will place a minimum bid required to enter the auction. If your Max CPC is lower than this bid, you can not enter the auction. Nobody knows what the minimum requirement is, and this may well be that it changes based on the search term, products, etc. Regardless, let’s assume the minimum bid Google CSS has set is 15 cents. This means if your max CPC is 30 cents, you can enter the auction, and you will compete against other CSS Partners. The auction winning bid will be based on my explanation in Your Ad Will Only Show Once (3). There is no service charge!
If your bid is lower than 15 cents, you can’t enter.
I want to emphasize that a CSS Partner can only advertise on Web Search. Not Google Shopping.
You can read this info here : https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/7558973?hl=en
7: Challenge Any Claims
If a CSS Partner makes any claims, challenge them on statistical data or official documentation from Google. If they can’t back up their claim, don’t use them and use someone else.
8: Is There Loss In Performance?
When moving to a 3rd party CSS Partner, you will drive traffic from Google Ads to the third party. This means less traffic in Google Ads, resulting in fewer sales, less performance, further reducing your traffic, ranking and increasing your cost per click. This directly ties into all Google Shopping ads. It will negatively impact your whole shopping advertising effort. When you migrate to a CSS Partner, make sure you compare data and check what has changed positively or negatively. Each CSS Partner will perform differently. My recommendation is to stay with Google.
9: Free Listings
Not all CSS partners will have free listings available, so make sure to contact your CSS partner if free listings are available. You may get the below warning.
Go to the CSS dashboard to choose or modify the CSS that represents this merchant on free listings in Europe. To stop seeing this issue, remove the “free listings” destination from all feeds in this account.
In this case, consider using Google as your CSS partner. You will need to contact Google Ads or Merchant Center support to proceed and know what steps you need to complete.
Non of my existing clients use 3rd party CSS Partner, and if they did before hiring me, we would switch over. And the success has been much better.