Following Google’s tweaks to its Shopping ads service in September to allow ads from other rival price comparison sites to appear in search results, a new report has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the so-called improvements.

The ad tech company was fined €2.42 billion by the European Commission in the third quarter of 2017 accused of “skewing” search results with its own Shopping ads.

Despite the modifications made as a result, a report by Searchmetrics has found that just 0.4% of product listing ads (PLAs) appearing in online searches in the UK were from rival sites, while in Germany this figure sat at 2%.

Meanwhile, it was found that just 6.1% of Shopping units in the UK included as least one individual PLA from a competitor, compared to 20.6% in Germany.

Those rival sites included other price comparison websites appearing in Google’s Shopping service on desktop searches in both the UK and Germany across five e-commerce sectors (electronics, fashion, cosmetics, furniture and books) using 500 popular keywords for each category.

‘No meaningful presence’

“It is still very early days in this new era of Google shopping, but our initial analysis in the UK and Germany suggests the service’s competitors – the other online comparison sites – as yet have no meaningful presence in the shopping units,” said Daniel Furch,  director of marketing for EMEA at Searchmetrics; “At the same time the competitors’ organic search visibility has continued to decline.”

Separate analysis from the study which looked at organic search visibility (OSV) of 23 rival comparison sites in the UK and 26 in Germany, found that OSV of competitive sites within Google desktop search results declined by 12% in both the UK and Germany between June and December last year.

Searchmetrics claims there’s been growth in the participation of ads by rival services in the last few months, however, the overall rate of those ads is still limited with shopping units only containing 29 PLAs.