Keen Google Ads watchers may have seen a few mentions recently of a programme called Comparison Shopping Services - CSSs for short. With unbelievable talk of 20% discounts and 30% rebates, it’s reminiscent of those SEO salesmen who promised to get you to #1 on Google for your 5 top keywords.

The key difference vs. my SEO salesman friend is that with CSS it’s all true.

At SearchStar we heard about the scheme about a month ago. After taking a few days to get our heads around it, we realised that we had to focus on it and get our clients the associated discounts / rebates ASAP.

The team crashed fabulously into action and in 4 weeks we built a comparison shopping website and loaded 25 clients into the scheme, meaning we are now only the 5th agency in the UK to be a Google-Certified Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) Partner.

Most importantly, our clients are getting a 20% discount on their shopping CPCs and a further rebate of 20-30% on their monthly shopping spends.

So, What’s The Background?

Last year, Google was fined €2.4 billion for unfairly favouring its own comparison shopping service: Google Shopping. Following on from this EU antitrust ruling, Google was made to allow non-Google comparison shopping services to compete on the search engine.

However, just opening up the market didn’t dramatically change the landscape – back in Jan 2018 it was reporting that still 99.6% of Google Shopping results were being supplied by Google. Noises started to be made about a % of turnover follow-up fine to the €2.4 billion. For Google that kind of money isn’t funny and they kicked into serious action.

The result was the recently launched Comparison Shopping Services. Within it, non-Google CSSs are currently able to buy Google Shopping ads at wholesale rates that are 20% less than the same inventory via Google Ads.

In addition, Google has created temporary rebates of 20-30% available for qualifying advertisers in an effort to prime the pump and generate competition quickly.

What This Means for Advertisers

Currently, when you spend £1 on Google Shopping, you’re actually bidding 80p for the advertising space, and giving 20p to the advertising sales team. The Comparison Shopping Scheme cuts out the advertising sales team and enables you to pay only the 80p. The additional 20-30% rebate, temporarily available, further cuts this 80p to 56p (30%) or 64p (20%).

This represents an unmissable opportunity for Google Shopping advertisers. By advertising through a third-party, rather than Google Shopping, you can save significantly on your Google Shopping advertising costs.

Will Anything Change?

There are no changes to the way you run your Google Shopping ads if you use a CSS. All activity is managed through Google Ads and there are no significant changes to your settings.

The only visible change is that your advertising will be linked to a CSS Merchant Centre. That means that the link in the advert will change from ‘by Google’ to the name of the CSS you choose to use (by SearchStar). Your customers will still land directly on the product

How SearchStar Can Help Get You Started

SearchStar is one of an elite group of agencies who have qualified for the new CSS Partner Scheme based on our commitment to Google Shopping, strong client base and technical expertise.

If you’re not currently using a CSS Partner to buy Google Shopping ads, or are running your ads in-house, we strongly urge you to get in touch with a CSS Partner as soon as possible.

There’s no obligation to use a CSS under the EU ruling. However, if you don’t you will lose comparative advantage in Google Shopping. If you do you get at least a 20% discount, if you don't and your competition does you pay at least a 25% premium.

To talk about how you can take advantage of our CSS call the team on 01225 58 38 38 or email