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 of limited information, check the below first.
Here the majority of confusions 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.
A CSS Partner, including Google CSS, can only advertise on Google Web Search, not Google Shopping, Google Images or Google Assistant. 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.
You can use multiple CSS partners, however, your ad will only show once. 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||—|
Read and reread the contract. A CSS Partner is only able to offer such discounts as Google is offering the partner an early adoption bonus. This means 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 extra 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… This info is available here : https://comparisonshoppingpartners.withgoogle.com/incentive_program/
You can find all the official certified partners here https://comparisonshoppingpartners.withgoogle.com/find_a_partner/
Some CSS Partners are claiming Google CSS are charging a fixed service fee. That is completely wrong and false information. These claims are simply created to make you change CSS Partners. So let me set the record straight. Google CSS will set a minimum bid requirement to enter the auction, if your Max CPC is lower then 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 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 of my explanation in Your Ad Will Only Show Once (3). There is no service charge!
If your bid is lower then 15 cents, you simply 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
If a CSS Partner makes any claims, challenge them on statistical data or official documentation from Google. If they can’t back up there claim, don’t use them and use someone else.
When moving to a 3rd party CSS Partner, you will move traffic from Google Ads to the third party. This means less traffic in Google Ads, resulting in less sales, resulting in less performance, further reducing your traffic, ranking and increasing your cost per click. As this directly ties in to all Google Shopping ads, it will negatively impact your whole shopping advertising effort. When you migrate to a CSS Partner, make sure you are comparing data and check what has changed in the positive or in the negative. Each CSS Partner will perform differently. My recommendation is to stay with Google.