How to become a Google CSS partner?

Do you want to know how to become a Google CSS partner? As an online marketing agency, you may have wondered why it is profitable to use a Google Comparison Shopping Service for your clients or even how you can become a CSS provider yourself. In this article, you will learn what the Comparison Shopping Services Program is, how to register as a CSS (Premium) Partner and what the process to become one is.

What is a Comparison Shopping Service?

A Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) is a price comparison website. In other words, it is a website that collects prices from different webshops, with the intention to help its visitors navigate to these webshops. As these visitors already compared the prices, it’s likely that they will convert at the webshop. Google Shopping is Google’s CSS that advertises shopping ads on the Google search results page. 

What are the similarities between Google CSS and Google CSS Partners?

Just like Google CSS, partners are able to show product listing ads for products that are available on their comparison website. Besides Google’s CSS, there are many other Google CSS Partners, such as Produchtero.com.

A shopping ad from a CSS Partner looks similar to those of Google CSS. The only visual difference is that instead of a link beneath the ad stating “By Google” there is a link with “By [CSS name]”. 

Why is it profitable to offer a Comparison Shopping Service for your clients?

As a marketing agency you want to give the best value to your customers. That is why offering a comparison service other than Google CSS is interesting. A CSS Partner (like Producthero.com) receives a 20% discount on the bid in the auction for the ad position to “compete” against Google CSS in the Shopping environment. 

Why do CSS’s get this discount? In 2017 Google received a fine by the European Commission for abuse of power. Google had created a platform for advertising with shopping ads on its search results page, which was only accessible for ‘their’ webshops. So in fact, they were keeping away other parties (comparison sites) of the opportunity to compete fairly. That is why they now allow other comparison services to advertise with a 20% discount.

Therefore, becoming a Google CSS Partner could be a great advantage compared to your competitors who don’t offer the CSS Partner program. Because you can use the 20% discount to save advertisement costs and you can invest it in Google Ads to increase the turnover or improve the profitability of your clients.

How do you become a Google CSS partner?

Now that the benefits are clear, you might wonder, why doesn’t everyone become a Google CSS partner? And that leads us to the question: what are the requirements to become a Google CSS provider?

Below you will find a small part of the conditions to become a CSS Partner. These are not the only conditions, but are the most important to comply with. We added a link to the full list below.

  • You must own a Comparison Shopping Service website, which has to meet a lot of requirements such as advanced web design, many data conditions, minimum merchants amount, maintenance, security, etc.;
  • The ads and free listings must meet all shopping ads policies and data specifications; 
  • You must offer links which will lead users directly to the landing page of products;
  • You must submit product data for each merchant and/or MCA or use it as a stand-alone account for each merchant and update it frequently; 

Google’s full list of minimum requirements to become a CSS Partner.

6 pros of becoming a Google (Premium) CSS Partner:

  1. 20% discount on the auction bid;
  2. Brand awareness as your name is below the ads of your customers;
  3. Google CSS Support;
  4. Access to Education Hub;
  5. Rewards: listing on the CSS Partner Directory, badges, themed recognitions (Premium only);
  6. Attending to Connect Events (Premium only).

5 cons of becoming a Google (Premium) CSS Partner:

  1. A long list of strict requirements to become a (Premium) Partner;
  2. Setting up and maintaining the price comparison website;
  3. Defining strategy: covering all CSS-aspects such as support for your clients on Merchant and Google Ads issues, maintaining the comparison website and performance optimization could be difficult if you are running a marketing agency;
  4. Keeping up to date with the latest CSS insights and responding to it;
  5. Refreshing CSS certification.

3 types of Google CSS partnerships and the requirements

There are 3 types of Google CSS Partnerships and there are certain requirements you need to meet to become one of them. 

  1. Participant
    You receive the standard benefits (without a badge) in exchange for having a CSS Account and for being a member of CSS Education Hub. 
  1. Google CSS Partner 
    You receive the Partner badge for developing a closer strategic relationship with Google. That being said, at least 2 CSS employees are CSS certified and there are minimal 50 active merchants in your CSS MCA.
  1. Google CSS Premium Partner
    Last, but not least- the most exclusive level of the program. By complying with all previous criteria and being in the top 25% of CSS partners ranked by ad impressions, you can call yourself a premium CSS partner.  

Is it worth to become a Google CSS Partner or should I offer another CSS partners’ services?

Okay, before you send out the application to become a Google CSS Partner, let’s have a look at the benefits and limitations of becoming a CSS partner.

As seen above, it may be profitable for you and your clients if you become a Comparison Shopping Service, BUT there are plenty of requirements you need to cover to become a Google CSS Partner.

It could be a great opportunity for your business to become a CSS (Premium) Partner. Such as 20% discount on the cost-per-click for your clients or the increased exposure.  

On the other hand, being a CSS and combining it with the agency activities could be a pain-in-the-neck as it distracts from your core business. Also, maintaining the technical aspect of being a CSS, could cost you a lot of time and effort.

If you want to keep the focus on agency work and still enjoy the benefits of the CSS Program, then choosing for an existing Google CSS Partner would the best option. 

Producthero is the most chosen Google Premium CSS Partner in Europe. Partnering with us will save you money, time and allow you to focus on your core activities. Furthermore, we also launched an Agency Partner Program. Learn more about the benefits of becoming a Producthero Agency Partner today.

Can I switch my CSS entirely to Producthero?

We have helped multiple agencies and software companies who started with the CSS program but wanted to shift their focus to their core business. A recent example is our acquisition of aisle 3’s CSS services. This is why agencies and software vendors choose to collaborate with us:

Thomas J. Vosper, CEO of aisle 3 says “As our business switches focus towards our AI engine, it was important to find the right partner to support the advertisers and agencies who have taken advantage of the ad spend savings through our participation in the CSS program over the last few years. Producthero supports some of the biggest retailers and brands in Europe so they are a great new partner for those advertisers and agencies as they continue to operate at the very forefront of the industry and offer a myriad of value-added services that are essential to the toolkit of any forward-thinking digital advertiser.“

Davey Stokkers, Head of SEA of Adwise – Your Digital Brain: “We have moved all our shopping advertisers to Producthero Premium CSS to get a better position in the bidding auction. And, because of our constant search for innovations to help our clients digitally mature, we offer the Producthero tools to optimize their shopping campaign management.”

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