In the interest of expanding their product offerings, Google has recently launched the Manufacturer Center. Originally released as an alpha in late July, this tool provides in-depth, detailed product information displayed alongside corresponding product images in the Google search landscape and within Google Shopping.
Fueled by a comprehensive product data feed, called a Manufacturer Feed, this tool allows merchants to engage with potential consumers with greater transparency into their product and services. The information provided in this feed helps build Google’s Knowledge Panel, found on the right of the search results page, when Google is confident a set product, movie, actor etc. is being researched.
Manufacturer Center is for brand manufacturers; brands who manufacture and own the licensing rights to that product. This means many official brands will have to set up and create feeds for this purpose.
Not to be confused with the Google Shopping / PLA Merchant Center, Manufacturer Center is not an advertising product; it’s to help brands provide more accurate product details, and shoppers research specific products before the buy. This tool gives ‘feeds’ a whole new perspective – one that comes with both pros and cons.
- The Manufacturer Center will make pre-purchase research easier. Brands will now have the ability to increase their brand presence with additional information, larger images and even YouTube videos directly within the Google landscape. Essentially, the user is provided a more holistic view of who the brand is, what they sell and how they’re perceived, all with one quick search on Google.
- If Google is really confident in the search queries’ relevance to a specific product within the Feed, the ‘Jackpot PLA’ will display within the Knowledge Panel. (This Jackpot PLA features one specific product listed with the relevant brand and resellers. Below this, in-depth details about that product will be provided, sourced by the Manufacturer Feed.) This will quickly help shoppers compare and review a specific product before buying online.
- Advertisers will now get greater insight into product level performance. Unlike Google Shopping (or PLA) campaigns supported by the Merchant Center, Manufacturer Feeds share detailed performance metrics on individual products. A specific product can now be monitored, analyzed and optimized with more quantifiable direction.
- As this information will now be visible in the Knowledge Panel to help users on their path to purchase, it could cause trouble for brand owners who are focused on driving revenue to their own site. If the GTIN product number is the same, other advertisers and resellers may still appear in Google Shopping ads alongside this information, resulting in a close association of the official brand owner and these other parties.
- The Manufacturer Center requires time and consideration to establish and continue to maintain by the brand. Many may argue shoppers gain the benefits of this official information provided in the Knowledge Panel, but may convert on an authorized reseller’s site.
- Although there is more insight into the product level performance, Manufacturer Center cannot yet show where those conversions are attributed. Did it help boost the official brand’s sales, or did these sales go to resellers?
While only a relatively small group of advertisers have opted in or been chosen at this time, the pros and cons are worth considering sooner rather than later. Google shopping campaigns currently remain the better option for driving conversions at scale while this new tool offers great potential in improving overall brand health and increase in awareness.
It’s important for all advertisers to get ahead of the curve and continue to monitor the impacts of this new feature. The Manufacturer Center will not only boost Google Shopping campaign conversions, but Paid Search and SEO are sure to see an impact, as the Knowledge Panel’s reach continues to increase in the search landscape.