AmazonThe battle of the giants for the pole position as the number one online source for product search is gaining momentum.

Many customers start their shopping spree on the Internet directly on Amazon - and that won’t really change in the future – especially since Amazon launched product ads in April as a response to Google's Product Listing Ads (PLA).

With the new advertising program, the American online retailer expands its range without listing the products in its marketplace or through connected merchants. Instead, users get forwarded directly to the shop of the advertising dealer if an ad is clicked on.

Well, Amazon’s intention for doing all this is quite obvious, forcing a clear separation of visitor flows that way: With Google you are looking for "information", on Amazon you are looking for "products". Last but not least, Amazon wants to ensure that customers still continue to start their product search on their portal.

With this strategic move, however, Amazon will only succeed in winning the battle to compete with Google in the short term - for a simple reason: the Amazon product ads offer no real added value to the consumer.

On one hand, they are limited to certain categories (computers, electronics, grocery & gourmet, home & garden, office supplies & stationery, baby & toys, hardware, and musical instruments), which means the offer doesn’t provide the full range. On the other hand, due to the ad placement, uncertainty remains for the user whether he/she will actually really find the best product available on Amazon.

And even the advantage of convenience, getting everything on one shopping cart to check-out, is no longer an argument, as it is necessary to leave the platform for the product displays and the customer is then being passed directly to the advertising dealer.

The bottom line is that the Amazon product ads are neither one nor the other. It is just a matter of time until the user notices this and starts to look for where the best market overview can be found.

In addition, Google Shopping gets continuously optimized and its data quality is permanently put to the test - such as six month ago, when the search giant once again strongly urged the dealers to provide complete and accurate product data.

Products without proper identifiers simply don’t get listed. Google allows only the listing of products with a unique identification, which are well-arranged and tabulated. In fact, Google is investing increasingly in usability and provides more transparency in the dealers’ choice, so that the user can get a good general overview of the deals.

Hence, as a search engine, Google will always be the "independent" source of information for product search and comparisons, while Amazon will simply always remain "only" a trading platform.

Nevertheless, online stores should definitely test the advertising program "Amazon Product Ads", to take advantage of benefits such as development of new target groups and customer acquisition. However, expect Google Shopping to be more important for the product search and the product data marketing in the long run.

No matter which channel the dealer ultimately chooses, the quality of the product data is the decisive factor for success.

By Daniela La Marca