Retailers’ Google product listing ads show 118% rise in search results, finds new study

The appearance of retail advertisers' Google Shopping Product Listing Ad (PLA) integrations within Google's search results increased by 118% during 2014, while video results are blended into 55% of keyword searches ‒ with videos from YouTube accounting for the lion's share. Overall, the prominence of Google's own products (Google PLAs, YouTube videos and Google Maps) in Universal Search¹ results has increased.

The findings come from a new study of Universal Search results appearing in by Searchmetrics, the leader in search and content optimization. The company reviewed the search results pages for millions of keywords and analysed the appearance of Shopping, Video, Image, News and Map integrations (also known as "Blended Search)".

Overall the study found that four out of five keyword searches produced at least one Universal Search integration within search results. By the end of 2014, the most frequent integration was video, with at least one video integration appearing for 55% of keywords analysed. This was followed by Images (40%) and Google Shopping Ads (16%) as shown below.

Which Universal Search Integrations Are Most Likely To Appear?

  • Video (55%)
  • Images (40%)
  • Shopping/PLAs (16%)
  • News (13%)
  • Maps (7%)

Three key findings of the Searchmetrics Study of Google's Universal Search results are:

1) Google Shopping ads show biggest growth

The share of Google Shopping PLA integrations more than doubled over the year, with the proportion of keywords for which at least one Google Shopping integration was displayed rising from 7.5% to 16% between January and December 2014 (there was a dip in the summer months, possibly because of the seasonal retail market slowdown). In total, Google Shopping PLA integrations account for 44% of all integrations shown across the millions of keywords analysed - more than any other integration².

Google Shopping has been a paid for service globally since February 2013, requiring retailers to buy PLAs incorporating images, pricing and other information in order to promote their products within Universal Search integrations for relevant keyword queries.
"The growth in the proportion of keywords for which Google Shopping Integrations are displayed represent increasing opportunities for retailers to buy Product Listing Ads and for Google to generate income from the now paid for Google Shopping service," explained Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics.

2) Video integrations appear for most keywords – and YouTube dominates

Video remains the most common integration in Universal Search, even though the share of keywords for which video integrations were displayed fell during 2014. 66% of all keywords returned at least one video integration in January, falling to 55% by December, but video remains the integration which appears for the largest proportion of keyword searches.

By December 2014, 80% of videos displayed in Universal Search results were hosted on Google's subsidiary, YouTube (rising from 50% in January). This increase in YouTube's share of video appearances in Universal Search is due to a sharp decline both in the absolute number of videos and in the share of keywords for which its competitors, including Helpster, Muzu and Metacafe appear in video integrations. The absolute number of videos from YouTube appearing in searches stayed roughly the same over the period.

"None of YouTube's video hosting competitors have ever accounted for more than 10% of the market, and every video hosting site, except Dailymotion and Vimeo, closed 2014 with negative growth," said Tober. "If you're a marketer and you want your video to appear in search results, then YouTube continues to be the best choice."

3) Google Map integrations

The proportion of keywords with Google Map integrations has tripled during the course of 2014. In January only 2% of search terms delivered map integrations, rising to over 7% by December.

"The more frequent appearance of map integrations in search results may be due to the fact that Google is skewing search engine results pages in favor of localised results which are becoming more important as search results become increasingly individual and more searches are conducted on mobile devices," said Tober.

¹Universal Search integrations are additional results such as Video, Images, News, Shopping and Map results that are blended into Google's search engine results pages on top of or between the organic search results (they are also called Blended Search). An explanation of Universal Search can be found here:

² This refers to the total number of integrations appearing across the millions of keywords studied by Searchmetrics. It is important to remember that some keywords could produce several shopping, image, video, news or map integrations.

³Shopping as a part of Universal Search was previously a free service which allowed retailers – from small online sellers to large retail aggregator sites such as Amazon and eBay– to promote products from their sites for free.


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