This does seem to be using similar functionality to what Google launched in November, for their product search expansion, but here the brands are listed at the top of the results. The big brands are getting more exposure in the Google search results than possibly ever before.
As someone trying to kickstart a start-up on a limited budget, I'm keeping an eye on the rapidly changing search landscape.
The revolution with Adwords was -- despite the obfuscation of the secret ranking algorithm -- something everyone could join and compete with the big brands. This move seems tip the scales in the favor of the big fellas.
A few quick reactions:
- It doesn't appear that you can "buy" your way in to the recommendations.
- The benefit to brands is secondary. By pushing people to a branded search, from "digital cameras" to "Sony digital cameras" they are reducing the CPC for the bigger brands, assuming they are selling direct.
- It's unclear how this would impact a retail player such as Best Buy, unless they have some sort of "official Sony digital camera" relationship.
- This is all based on Google's Trust metrics, something that could reinforce the market leaders rather than encourage innovation.
- I'm not condemning this move by Google, but we should keep an eye out for their definition of quality and trust.