But wait, there’s more!
A few weeks ago, Google announced a number of new features to power discounts in its SERPs and Chrome, including a whole page dedicated to deals and discounts listed on the ‘new tab’ page.
As the search engine is evidently trying to compete with affiliate publishers, we speculated what these moves might mean for the affiliate marketing industry.
Now, news arrives that Google is testing even more discount features in its SERPs. This time, it’s rich snippets for coupon codes via Merchant Centre, as well as enhanced knowledge panels to display deals.
Let’s decode the jargon
Put simply, a rich snippet (or rich result) is an enhanced version of an ordinary search result. Most search results show the same three pieces of information: title tag, meta description, and URL. Rich snippets show a little bit more. This could be a rating out of 5 stars; the number of reviews; product price; or even the length of time a recipe takes. There are quite a few different uses for rich snippets currently in practice.
Sometime in the future, we can expect to see coupon codes added to the rich snippet toolbelt. The snippet shows what the discount is (percentage off, or dollars off) and is paired with a coupon code. You can see for yourself in the screenshot below.
The knowledge panel is that helpful infobox that pops up next to search results, providing a bit more information than in the normal search result, or even rich result. Commonly, these panels show business locations; opening hours; number of employees; reviews; telephone numbers etc.
Earlier this month, Google announced that the knowledge panel will start to display discounts and deals in select countries, as well as shipping and returns policies. You can check out what this will look like below.
How much is too much?
It’s not surprising to see Google competing with affiliate publishers, trying to claim a portion of that traffic for itself. However, it is somewhat surprising to see the search engine release so many updates centered around discounts and coupon codes.
Perhaps this is a case of hedging its bets, scattering an array of different functions to see what sticks. They are still in the testing phase, so it’s hard to say which features will make it to deployment across the worldwide SERPs.
The last time these kinds of updates were announced, we mulled over the effect they might have on coupon providers who rely on traffic driven from the SERPs to their websites. If Google intercepts that, could it be game over?
We don’t think this will necessarily be the case, though if these rich snippets – and particularly the discount page – really take off, then there will be some kind of negative impact.
Like we said last time, it’s a good idea that coupon providers create more value for themselves and their partners through other methods in the affiliate channel. Content commerce is a good example that has already seen widespread use among coupon providers.