Google recently released the Price Competitiveness Insights beta in the Merchant Center, giving advertisers new information to understand how their pricing stacks up against the competition. The dashboard, found under the Growth > Price Competitiveness tab, provides a visual summary of your price competitiveness with options to drill down by product type, brand, category, and product.
Key Differentiators from Other Google Benchmarking Data
The idea of price benchmarking data isn’t new for Google. In Google Ads, advertisers can use price benchmark data to see a snapshot of how their product pricing compares to others at a particular point in time. However, there are a few key benefits to the new Merchant Center tool that differentiates it from what’s available in Google Ads reporting.
1. Ease of use: The Google Merchant Center price competitiveness tool is interactive, allowing users to quickly drill down into interesting trends. For example, let’s say the category “running shoes” started seeing a lower click-through-rate (CTR) five days ago. In the price competitiveness report, the user can look at pricing trends for that category over time to see if their price competitiveness changed at the same time their CTR decreased. If it did, they can easily click through to look at more granular segments of the running shoes product type to identify whether particular subcategories drove the change in price competitiveness.
2. Showing trends over time: Another key benefit is the ability to look at more than just a snapshot in time. The date filter is flexible, and effectively illustrates day-to-day trends during whatever time period is selected.
3. Meaningful summaries for each segment: In Google Ads benchmarking data, analysts only see the average product price and benchmark product price at whatever level they’ve segmented to. For categories or brands with a wide variety of price points, this information isn’t always useful or reliable in determining true price competitiveness. In the Merchant Center tool, users see what percentage of their products in a given segment are above, at, or below the benchmark price, as well as what percentage of products have no benchmark. They can then drill down to see which products fall in each of those buckets.
4. More comparable data: The new Price Competitiveness report uses GTINs to make pricing comparisons, giving a true apples-to-apples comparison when it comes to pricing differences across sellers. Google Ads benchmarking data pulls in pricing for all SKUs in a given auction with a product, which really muddies the data. Consider a product like a bedside table. It could show on a wide variety of searches, including more generic ones like “bedroom furniture” and “tables”. The data pulled from other ads in those auctions would not necessarily represent relevant pricing for a bedside table.
How to Use this Data
There are both proactive and reactive ways that this data can be a useful tool for marketers.
1. Explaining performance trends: As alluded to earlier, the Price Competitiveness tool can be a good area to investigate if you’re seeing issues with CTR or conversion rate for a particular area of an account. Other factors could certainly be at play (bids, competitors’ bids, etc.) but price competition can have a major impact on a product’s performance.
2. Merchandising and pricing team insights: Teams that are responsible for buying or pricing merchandise for a retailer don’t always have search-specific insights into the competitive landscape. This data, provided on a regular cadence, can highlight categories where a retailer is consistently priced higher than other sellers so they can consider reducing their price or seeking out products where they can be more price competitive.
3. Bidding strategy: A long-term view can identify areas of the account where an advertiser is consistently priced below its competitors. Assuming performance for these segments look relatively close to target, they could be prime opportunities for bidding more aggressively to capture more eyeballs and, ultimately, conversions.
What We’d Like to See Next
There are a few improvements that would make this data even more valuable to advertisers. First, it’d be helpful to have more flexibility with slicing-and-dicing the data. In the current state, you can’t layer multiple attributes on top of each other (for example, product type = X and brand = Y). Additionally, it would be powerful to have some way to integrate this data seamlessly into campaign management. If price competitiveness data was incorporated into Feed Rules, for example, advertisers could dynamically create custom labels to flag products above or below benchmark and bid on them differently in Google Ads. Finally, the ability to create regularly-scheduled report downloads for certain categories or brands would be valuable to make repeat data pulls more efficient and shareable.
The Bottom Line
Advertisers are always looking for more ways to understand the SERP dynamics that influence their performance. The Merchant Center Price Competitiveness data is an informative tool that helps bring clarity to some of those dynamics, how they shift over time, and how they vary at both higher and more granular levels. With some more automated options, it could become a very powerful tool for advertisers and merchant teams alike.