Google's sponsored products could cost you more money

A study from the Financial Times claims that products appearing at the top of a Google search are pricier than those that show up lower in the results.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Do you pay more for sponsored products that pop up in a Google search?

That's the contention of the Financial Times, which recently ran an analysis of various products that show up among Google search results. Five out of every six items that appeared in the sponsored items section were more expensive than those those hidden deeper in the results, according to the newspaper. And on average, the sponsored products were 34 percent higher.

The study focused on Google's US site. A total of 25 product types were picked at random, including electronic devices, household items, and toys. The Financial Times found that all three types of products could be bought at a lower price by checking out results lower on the list or simply seaching Google Shopping.

In response to the analysis from the Financial Times, Google sent CNET the following statement:

Just as people consider multiple factors when they shop, like free shipping or whether they prefer a particular retailer, there are a variety of factors that impact which Product Listing Ads are shown. In addition to price, we consider many factors like relevance, merchant ratings, advertiser bid, whether others have historically clicked on the ad, and conversion rates. Within Google Shopping, people can also browse items from other retailers and sort by price.

The moral of the story? As always, it pays to shop around. Google Shopping is a good way to compare prices as the results appear in a simple list with no sponsored products to get in the way. Consumers can also check out other comparison shopping sites, such as DealTime, Nextag, PriceGrabber, Shopzilla, and CNET's own Shopper.com.

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About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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