A Commitment to Trust and Transparency in Search

Six days ago, we launched the “Scroogled” campaign to let you know that, just in time for the holiday rush, Google has made some unprecedented changes to Google Shopping.

How did Google respond? They distributed a statement praising their service. They highlighted how great products look on Google Shopping without really explaining how the products get there in the first place. They did not contradict or argue any of the facts and information we laid out. The silence is disappointing given how important this issue is to consumers and the online industry as a whole.

In short, Google’s silence is pretty clear acknowledgement of the changes they have made to introduce pay-to-rank to their system.

After calling the practice “evil” for years, Google Shopping is now allowing merchants to pay to influence where their products show up in Google Shopping’s rankings.  

We believed, and surveys confirmed, most consumers were unaware of these changes because the appearance of Google Shopping looks much like other Google search services. And we’ve seen a lot of interest in the topic from people in and outside the industry. As search is the primary way for people to explore and engage in our increasingly complex digital world, the need for transparency on how ranking decisions are made has never been more critical.

At Bing, we offer a shopping experience organized on a higher set of principles. We want you to understand exactly what we are doing at Bing, how we differ from Google shopping, and why it matters to you:

Unlike Google Shopping, we will not take money to boost a merchant’s rank in our shopping search results.  In short, we don’t do pay-to-rank. Where we do have ads, we label them clearly as ads. 

While Google has purged Google shopping of each and every free listing, we continue to have well over a hundred million product offers listed for free from merchants across the nation, and new products and offers come in to Bing shopping daily at no cost to merchants who established themselves with us before the holiday season. 

As in the past, we are not accepting new merchants during the holiday season, because we want to maintain the integrity of our system for consumers during the holiday rush. But we will re-open the system to new merchants and their free listings in January, as we did last year.

We do take product feeds from 3rd party companies who charge merchants for syndication across internet shopping sites, but the fact that a merchant has paid to be included in that syndicated feed does not affect the position of that merchant’s offer in Bing Shopping’s search results. It’s only a part of the larger set of databases we draw from.

Google is by far the largest gateway to the Internet. So when they make changes like this, they have a dramatic impact on merchants, consumers and the marketplace.  At Bing, we may be smaller, but we’re on a sure and steady path of growth.  People chose Bing web search results over Google nearly 2 to 1 in blind comparison tests* and we believe this recent change to Google Shopping is just one more reason for people to consider Bing.

We also believe the more Google blurs the line between rankings and ads, and the more consumers learn about these changes, they will realize they have a choice when it comes to search and try Bing.  Hundreds of thousands of consumers have visited Scroogled.com to learn differences for themselves. We invite you to do the same.

– The Bing Team

“*Based on a comparison of web search results pane only and study was not specific to Google Shopping or Bing Shopping; excludes ads, Bing’s Snapshot and Social Search panes and Google’s Knowledge Graph. Learn more at bingiton.com.

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