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Holiday Shopping: Froogle Update

By - December 15, 2003


SearchDay summarizes Google’s recent update to Froogle. The update is not a total redesign, nor a clear statement by Google that it wants to jump in full throttle, like Yahoo has (Google has yet to take off the “beta” moniker). Shopping engines in the main present something of a challenge for Google – by their nature they invite commercially-driven presentation of results, and Google is best known for its “pure” or “natural” results. As Ninj pointed out to me last week, at Yahoo Shopping they believe that shoppers *expect* to be marketed to while in shopping mode – the metaphor she used was Yellow Pages. Those who paid more, have more credibility and larger ads, and that means something to shoppers. Such an approach is not exactly dead center to Google’s overall brand values, but neither does it directly contradict them. It is worth noting that the company updated Froogle in time for the holiday season and has been promoting it for several days in a row. To wit: the phrase “Shopping? Try Froogle – Google’s product search service” appears on the main page. Google product managers tell me it’s extremely difficult to get a promo for anything onto that home page, as they count every bit on that page, each additional bit slows down performance. Clearly, a decision has been made that this is important to the company, and by extension, to the company’s users.

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7 thoughts on “Holiday Shopping: Froogle Update

  1. Steve Krause says:

    > …the metaphor she used was Yellow Pages.
    > Those who paid more, have more credibility
    > and larger ads, and that means something to shoppers.

    In the real-world Yellow Pages, the relative size of ads is meaningful because so little other information is available. It’s the opposite situation with a shopping engine: You can see who has the lowest price on the product you want, get various types of product info, and see opinions about retailers’ reputations.

    As the consumer, if that kind of information is available, why do I care who paid more for their listing?

  2. So we should expect “paying more” not to be to produce bigger ads, but to influence “that kind of information,” e.g., paying to place positive reputational information (heck, they pay people to chat about new products in bars and such), to slag others, or to otherwise jigger the playing field.

  3. Steve Krause says:

    …which raises the interesting question of what metaphor captures *that* situation. Campaign-finance disclosure? “This user review was paid for by Citizens Concerned About the Quality of ABC Corp’s Products. The actual source of funds was DEF Corp.”

  4. Mabye trusted third parties make a comeback.

  5. Well, they haven’t gone away… my wife still consults Consumer Reports on any major purchase.

    The challenge would seem to be more down toward validation of the grass roots, e.g., reputation systems (such as eBay’s, which has still been gamed in the past) to allow for individuals’ comments to be better interpreted.

    This business about Dean being slagged in ads in Iowa, whose backers *seem* to be former Demo opponent staffers, but whose funding won’t be disclosed until February, is a bit unsettling.

  6. lebenslauf says:

    thanks for your site and keep it up.

  7. Partner says:

    So we should expect “paying more” not to be to produce bigger ads, but to influence “that kind of information,” e.g., paying to place positive reputational information (heck, they pay people to chat about new products in bars and such), to slag others, or to otherwise jigger the playing field.