Goodbye Froogle; Hello Google Product Results In Web Search

Froogle, Google’s shopping search
engine that
launched
with big hopes back in 2002, is to be deemphasized in place of
product listings integrated into regular Google search results.

The news has come out through Google’s participation at the Professional eBay
Sellers Alliance Summit last week in San Francisco. IDG has coverage of it
here,
saying:

A Google official shared the news with attendees at the Professional eBay
Sellers Alliance (PESA) Summit in San Francisco this week, according to people
at the conference.

When people search for products on Google.com, the system will present them
with another search box so that they can refine their query, wrote Bear
Stearns analysts in a note published on Friday.

After people refine their query, Google takes them to a second page
populated with product results from the Google Base listings service, wrote
the analysts, who attended the Google official’s presentation.

The association with the eBay sellers group and product results “powered” by
Google Base is causing some confusion, in my view, about eBay “killer” Google
Base “replacing” Froogle. Let’s back up.

  • Froogle used to have its own feed mechanism to allow merchants to submit
    products. This system predated the system for sending material into Google
    Base.
  • In June, the Froogle submission system went away,
    replaced by
    submission to Google Base (and see also
    here). If
    Froogle was being “replaced” by Google Base, this is the time it happened.
  • Google Base has
    never been
    designed
    as a standalone service for searchers. The user interface there
    hasn’t been that appealing, nor have searchers been seriously directed to it.
    In fact, the search box on the Google Base home page was
    just dropped,
    not something you do for a service designed for searchers. It is something you
    do, however, to help Google Base’s mission of being a centralized submission
    tool for Google.
  • Google has been testing ways to flow customized results from Google Base
    into regular Google, to help deal with the
    invisible
    tabs
    issue I’ve long written about. My
    Google Real
    Estate? It’s Google Base Again, Google’s Vertical Play
    from earlier this
    year explains this integration in more depth.
  • Putting product results into regular Google results makes sense, just as
    it does for any type of vertical or custom results that Google does. This has
    mainly been through
    OneBox results
    , but the new Google Base-style placements allow for the
    search box on results pages to contain more options, ones helpful to narrowing
    for product or other type of vertical searching.

Froogle as a brand and destination set for demotion was pretty clear when it
was dropped
from the Google home page last month, a position it held
since 2004.
That placement never helped Froogle much, in part because many people simply
ignore the little links above the search box entirely. In addition, in my view,
Froogle is a cutesy name that never explain what Froogle was — a shopping
search engine. If it had been called Google Shopping, take-up might have been
better.

Given this, “deemphasizing” Froogle as a destination isn’t hard given that
few seem to think of it as a destination anyway. Back in July, Hitwise

found
it ranked ninth among Google top 29 properties — and sharewise, not
that far behind Google Video (0.45 percent of all visitors to the top 20 Google
sites went to Froogle versus 0.47 percent going to Google Video).

Google Video’s move on to the home page helped that service and hurt Froogle,
as Hitwise later

notes
. But again, sharewise, it was hardly noticeable. Froogle dropped to
the 0.02 percent range, while Google Video rose to the 0.06 percent range. In
other words, practically no one was going to either service compared to things
like Google web search overall.

That’s why better integration of all vertical search results into listings
will be coming at Google, as well as other search engines. But I hope we will
see a renamed Google Shopping service still survive, with a custom home page and
URL. Shopping search is important enough that it deserves a standalone brand.

Related reading

chicago bing search
ClickZ-Intelligence
click-to-call
poke stop
Simple Share Buttons