Frequently Answered Questions About CSS and Google’s Answers

As you may be aware, we recently announced that we had become a Google CSS Partner – now able to bring you discounts galore on your shopping ads. But we also know that you probably have lots of questions about this. We hope to answer some of these here. These have been slightly adapted from the Google FAQs page.

Shopping Insights CSS

Do I need to use a CSS to place Shopping ads on the Google general search results page?

In a word, yes. Either CSSs or Google Shopping Ads can place Shopping ads. You can use several CSSs simultaneously.


Do I have to pay Google for ads placed by CSSs on my behalf?

You pay through the CSSs, who pay Google for clicks on placed ads. The CSS will choose how to invoice you. Google charges merchants based on a Cost per Click model.


Will my products be shown several times next to one another?

Google says:

We do our best not to show multiple instances of the same offer (that’s the same product offered by the same merchant). If we identify that the same product from the same merchant has been uploaded by several CSSs, we will only show it once in the ad unit. In the rare cases when we cannot detect that two offers are the same, they may both show up in the same Shopping unit. The CPCs paid by the winning CSSs do not increase in such a scenario because a merchant is never second-priced against itself.

This doesn’t apply to different products from the same merchant. These can appear through several CSSs in the same unit. So if someone searches for running shoes, one of your pairs of shoes may appear from one CSS and another model could appear from a different CSS. But don’t worry, you won’t pay more Cost per Click in this instance, because you’re never second-priced against yourself.

Shopping Insights CSS

Will I end up paying more for Shopping ads if more than one CSS advertises on my behalf?

As we just mentioned, you’ll never be second-priced against yourself in an auction for any offer, that’s true regardless of the number or identity of the CSSs you’ve used. So if two CSSs are placing bids for you, the winning offer and the price paid by the winning CSS will be the same as if the bids were placed by the same CSS.

Also, even if several CSSs are placing ads on your behalf, your offers won’t be repeated or that Google will charge more for a click on any of them.


Google Examples: CSS A bids 30 pence per click to place your offer. For simplicity, we’ll assume that all ads have the same quality and relevance.

Scenario 1: The next highest CSS bid is 20 pence on behalf of a different merchant. Your offer will win the auction at a cost of 20 pence – only as much as necessary to maintain the position.

Offers uploaded through Merchant Bid placed by CSS Price paid by winning CSS if their ad is clicked
CSS A Merchant 1 (you) 30 20
CSS A Merchant 2 20
CSS A Merchant 3 15
CSS A Merchant 4 12

Scenario 2: Now assume that another CSS starts advertising on your behalf and bids 25 pence. You still win the auction with the 30 pence bid that CSS A made on your behalf, but the next closest competitor now bids 25 pence. Since this competitor is a CSS who’s also bidding on your behalf, we do not use that second bid to determine the price that CSS A pays. Instead, we find the next highest bid that’s been placed for a different merchant, which is still 20 pence. The CPC paid for the winning bid does not change and remains at 20 pence.

Offers uploaded through Merchant Bid placed by CSS Price paid by winning CSS if their ad is clicked
CSS A Merchant 1 (you) 30 20
CSS B Merchant 1 (you) 25
CSS A Merchant 2 20
CSS A Merchant 3 15

Scenario 3: Now assume, instead, that the bid placed on your behalf by CSS B is higher than the bid placed by CSS A on your behalf. In this case, CSS B will win the auction. The next highest bid is the 30 pence bid that CSS A placed, also on your behalf. Since both bids are for the same merchant, we do not use CSS A’s bid to determine the price of the click that CSS B pays. Instead, we use the next highest bid for a different merchant, which is still 20 pence. The CPC paid by CSS B for your product will be 20 pence.

Offers uploaded through Merchant Bid placed by CSS Price paid by winning CSS if their ad is clicked
CSS B Merchant 1 (you) 40 20
CSS A Merchant 1 (you) 30
CSS A Merchant 2 20
CSS A Merchant 3 15

Shopping Insights CSS

How do I know how much CSSs bid in the auction on my behalf?

CSSs like Broadplace will usually report the numbers of clicks being sent your way and charge per click. A good CSS should also report additional information or detailed bidding data.

Google Shopping is required by the European Commission to be independently profitable. Google Shopping currently ensures profitability by deducting a fixed percentage margin from each merchant bid before entering it into the auction. The margin is included in the CPC paid by the merchant and is charged only when a user clicks on one of the merchant’s ads. In general, we recommend that merchants compare cost and returns of different marketing channels to assess which ones work best for them.


Where will my product ads be shown?

Your Shopping ads will be shown on the general Google search results pages. They will also be shown on the website of the CSS that submitted them (in Broadplace’s case this would be Pricegetter, our own price comparison site).


How can I find out which CSSs advertise on my behalf on Shopping ads?

You can check who’s advertising on your behalf by logging in to your Merchant Centre account. Click on ‘Shopping ads’ in the menu on the left and then click on ‘Configuration’. You’ll be shown a dashboard of all the CSSs posting products from your website. You’ll also find contact information for each of them. If you don’t have a Merchant Centre account for that particular domain, you can create one for free. You don’t need to upload any offers to see the dashboard.


Is it better to advertise through a specific CSS?

This depends entirely on your situation – your business, its goals and services offered by CSSs. Don’t forget, you can use several CSSs at the same time to discover what works best for you. All CSSs and Google Shopping have the same chances to place ads for you on Google’s general search results pages. CSSs can’t reserve ad spaces.

Shopping Insights CSS case study 3

What if I don’t want a specific CSS to advertise for my products?


Different CSSs may provide different value-add services. However, we understand that you may want to control how your ads are appearing. We recommend that you reach out to the relevant CSS to discuss any concerns that you might have (customer service website, phone number and email address are provided for each CSS in your Merchant Center dashboard). All CSSs can adjust the volume of traffic that they are sending you using bids and budgets as well as pausing or activating campaigns. Some CSSs allow their merchants to control campaigns directly through an interface that they provide. You can also use the dashboard in Merchant Center to opt in and out of a particular CSS channel. Opt-outs may take up to 24 hours to become effective.

Broadplace Now A Google CSS Partner

Broadplace has been confirmed as a Google Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) Partner with a shiny new badge. But what does that mean for you?

CSS Partner BroadplaceA Bit of Background

You’ll be aware of the power of Google Shopping, and you might know about some EU regulations that have deemed that Google has to change the way it serves ads on its Shopping platform. It is now required to open up ad servings from other comparison shopping suppliers (or CSS, for short). So the results you will see in the Google Shopping results will now include results from other CSS’s and not just from Google.


So What Happens Now, What Do I Get Out Of This?

Rather than having to use Google Shopping by default, now you can save money by getting potentially huge discounts on your media cost! In order to encourage more Comparison Shopping Suppliers, Google Shopping Europe is offering large discounts to companies that advertise through these new CSS’s. The discounts available through other CSS’s such as Broadplace can range anywhere between 20% to 44% on your Shopping Ads cost!


How Does The Discount Work?

There are two elements to the savings that can be made:

  1. The simpler aspect is that as a CSS we can get a direct rebate from your media spend and can pass that back to you and save from 20% up to 30%! So, if you spend £1,000 through Shopping Ads, then £200-300 will be credited back to your account.
  2. Further bid savings. The way your bids currently work directly with Google is that if you set up your CPC at say £1, Google actually keeps 20% of that bid aside as margin, so 20p from your £1 bid is kept aside. Your bid then actually enters the auction at 80p and not £1. You can look at this in two ways – firstly, your £1 bid through Broadplace as a CSS means your bid in the auction is actually £1 and not 80p, so your bid will be much more competitive than your rivals using Google. Alternatively, it could mean that there will be room to reduce your CPC by up to 20% to enter the auction at parity with other bids. This means others could be bidding £1, but your bid could be up to 20% cheaper.
  3. Note: The two aspects above work together, so the combination can mean huge overall savings!


What You’ll Now See

The results in the Google Shopping bar at the top of search results will now look a little something like this:

CSS Partner Broadplace New Shopping Results Image

You will notice a very subtle change in the ads whereby the last line at the bottom of the ad that always used to say “Google” now says “By …” namely another CSS such as ‘By Pricegetter’. The rest of the ad format stays exactly the same and product details still pull from your feed. Our experience tells us that only a very small percentage of people ever click on the last line, if at all, so you should not see any noticeable difference in ad performance. That said, we will obviously monitor metrics closely.


What’s The Catch and Are There Any Risks?

We have looked into this in detail and we appreciate that often when things seem too good to be true, they often are. However, in this instance the introduction of competition in Shopping is something that Google must introduce, and there is a cost in doing so, and that cost is essentially part of what you could save!

CSS Partner Broadplace Pricegetter

source/credit: © Andres Rodriguez / Dreamstime


The great thing with the introduction of other comparison shopping suppliers is that all customers have the option of using more than one supplier, so essentially you can start by keeping your current Shopping set up as it is and then also have your products listed with another CSS. We can then split test campaigns, test different bids to ascertain the best value and you will still benefit from the overall huge discounts!


So, What Can Broadplace Do For Me?

Well, we’re glad you asked! We have our own price comparison site called PriceGetter, already an established site in the price comparison market.

Better still, as an approved CSS we can now extend the potentially massive cost savings to our clients.

To take advantage of these savings, the minimum Shopping spend is only 500 per month.

But we want to make clear, these discounts are not available to customers directly from Google and only through an approved CSS like Broadplace.

These discounts may not be around forever and are in pace to encourage competition, so you need to move quickly to take advantage of them now as they may not be around forever.


Get in touch with us today to find out how much you could be saving!


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