Are You Ready For Google's GBuy?

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Google appears to be very close to launching GBuy, its long-awaited PayPal-like stored payment system. Even though Google refuses to officially confirm the June 28th launch date mentioned in press reports, it's clear that GBuy is just around the corner. How should you, as a search marketer, prepare for it?

Well, be prepared for an additional layer of complexity, because GBuy will let Google mine all data associated with the e-commerce loop, and that begins when a user clicks on an ad and it ends at the checkout cart. PPC marketers with conversion tracking enabled always have had access to this data on an individualized basis, but now Google will be able to aggregate it and use it to more intelligently price the value of keywords, position, and other variables.

Google, naturally, wants to do this to better moneterize its advertising system. But GBuy also will benefit search marketers because it will let them bid more intelligently for qualified prospects. Example: two searchers come to Google at the same time. According to Google's records, the first searcher has spent $500 in the past month buying items through GBuy merchants; the second just $100. Obviously, the first user is more valuable to reach than the second, and marketers will be given the opportunity to bid more to display ads to him.

Putting this kind of targeting power in the hands of marketers at this level of scale is unprecedented. It also, unfortunately, makes the process more complicated. Is a customer who spent $500 five times more valuable than one who spent $100? Was the $500 purchase for a DVD player or for twenty CD's? Yes, purchasing history is extremely valuable information to have, but it can't accurately predict whether a given searcher will keep spending at the same rate; in fact, in certain cases, the searcher who has spent less in the past may be in a better position to spend more in the future.

Some marketers may not be exactly thrilled at the prospect of Google being able to analyze their sensitive transaction data. But others will clearly see that GBuy can give them a clear advantage in the marketplace, in so far as having a "Trusted GBuy Merchant" icon next to their ads will serve as a token of legitimacy. Searchers don't spend much time on SERPs, and their eyes are drawn to trusted, branded terms, which is why branded ads demonstrate superior CTR rates, and why unknown, unbranded marketers face an uphill battle in terms of running profitable search campaigns. But marketers who go through Google's merchant certification process (whose details are still unknown) will certainly benefit from bearing the GBuy icon, although this advantage may prove temporary, as more and marketers join the GBuy system.

My advice to you is twofold: first, keep your eyes on Google's blogs and watch for an announcement in the next few weeks. When the gates open, get your company into the certification process, so you can be first on your SERP with a GBuy icon. Second, think ahead and plan to be ready for a vastly more complicated marketplace to emerge as Google introduces the kind of sophisticated targeting capabilities that GBuy provides. Make sure your team or agency knows what's at stake, and is ready to seize the high ground in-house when Google deploys its long-awaited system. Unless you're completely confident that your team or agency is up to the task, you're not ready for GBuy.

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