How to Increase Your ROAS by 8.3% by Switching to CSS (Comparison Shopping Service) Partners

Written by Wes Parker

Posted on: March 16, 2023

Did you know switching CSS partners could lead to savings of 5.1% in CPC’s and increase your ROAS by 8.3%?

A Comparison Shopping Service (more commonly known as CSS) is an online platform that enables consumers to compare product prices and features against other retailers. It does this by showing your shopping ads on search results alongside competitors selling the same or similar products. 

CSS partners show on shopping ads like below:  “By High Street One”, meaning the ad is served through the High Street One CSS.

These platforms are crucial in providing shoppers with an effortless and seamless online shopping experience. By choosing the right CSS partner you can reap the benefits of increased savings and increases in your shopping campaign ROAS. 

Previously, Google dominated the market with their CSS known as Google Merchant Centre and were heavily critiqued for their market dominance.

In 2017, the European Commission fined Google for breaching EU antitrust rules by favouring their own CSS over others. Google allowed its own CSS partner to show consistently on the first pages and other competitor shopping ads on following pages, bypassing the search relevancy algorithm.

To align with regulations, Google has since introduced Google CSS partners, allowing for healthier competition within the market.

Many advertisers still choose to run their shopping ads through Google CSS. Below, we delve into how Google CSS works and how you can utilise other CSS partners to align with your goals.

How Google’s CSS works

Under Google’s CSS, 20% of your bid through Google Ads will go towards paying for the CSS service and the remainder goes towards your Ads. In comparison, opting for an alternative CSS could present opportunities for savings. Partnered CSS offer the flexibility to negotiate a flat fee or percentage for their service less than that of Google.

Benefits of switching CSS partners

A previous study conducted by Savvy Revenue uncovered that changing CSS partners could lead to substantial savings through decreasing CPCs (by 5.1%) and increasing ROAS (by 8.3%). 

These figures differ from the headline saving figure of 20% that Google uses, as it also depends on competitor bid averages. 

If you are bidding significantly above the market average then you may not incur any savings. However, bidding competitively at a market average, an alternative CSS would allow you to spend more on your Google Ads and reduce the spend on CSS markup. 

We would suggest adopting an A/B test to compare your current CSS to another.

Now that you are aware of the benefits of using an alternative CSS, how do you choose who to work with and if it’s right for you? 

Here is our guide to finding the right CSS for you:

  • Find a CSS partner from Google’s directory.
  • Never pay % of media. Instead aiim for a £50-£100 flat fee – we would recommend using Shoptimised! As an agency, we have been using Shoptimised as our CSS provider and find their flat fee and additional services such as feed optimisation and price competition to be very useful in running our shopping ads. And no, we promise they’re not paying us to say this!
  • We would recommend changing CSS if you are spending at least £5k per month on Shopping for substantial savings and for the ROAS changes to be significant enough.

The shift to a new CSS is easy and swift. Once you have decided which CSS to use, simply create a new Google Merchant Centre account owned by the CSS and link the new merchant centre to your Google Ads account. Once done, you’re all set and ready to go! Nothing else changes!

Pay less for your traffic with a Google CSS partner and boost your performance. Get in touch with us to help you with the setup and get some instant savings.

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