As you may have heard, Bing Product Search is trying to coin a new word: Scroogled. It's a portmanteau of "screwed" and "Google," and it's supposedly what happens to you when you use Google Shopping to compare prices amongst retailers.
Since Google Shopping has transitioned into a tool that solely lists merchants that have paid to have their items included, Bing argues that a vendor with a lower price that has not paid for advertising space won't show up in the results, and that shoppers won't be able to find the true lowest price via the Google search engine. Hence, "Scroogled." While Bing also offers stores the option to pay for a listing, it continues to include free merchant price listings as well. Bing thus claims that it yields results with a wider variety of vendors and potentially better prices.
As professional deal hunters, we at dealnews have noticed a couple of obvious exclusions with Google Shopping, most importantly the always suspiciously absent Amazon. Around Black Friday, we found this to also be the case with Walmart. With such aggressive pricing from both retailers, that's a pretty big omission for the consumer.
Google Shopping vs. Bing
So, we wanted to see for ourselves if Bing really is better. Does it return better searches than Google Shopping, or does the fact that it's open to anyone result in a slew of undesirable merchants that you shouldn't buy from anyway? We put the search engines to the test with a handful of popular products and found that, despite all its griping, Bing still trails Google to a significant degree.
We ran 10 separate searches for a variety of items, and found that 70% of the time, Google still returned the actual lowest price available from a respectable merchant. Conversely, Bing only found the lowest price 20% of the time (and even that is a bit of a stretch). For two of the searches, neither engine was able to find the lowest price, but they were tricky tests; for one, the best price could only be obtained after an in-cart discount, and the engines only reported the starting price. For another, the best price was a daily deal from OfficeMax. Neither Bing nor Google were able to pick up on these specialized price drops, which isn't entirely surprising.
Noticeably Absent Merchants
However, despite the fact that Google was able to outshine Bing, both services still struggled to correctly integrate Amazon. Google doesn't include it at all, likely because Amazon doesn't feel compelled to pay for listings. Bing then only selectively included Amazon. When it did, Bing reported the incorrect price. Since Amazon is known for continuously altering prices, sometimes incrementally several times throughout the course of a day, this might indicate once again that Bing is unable to sense live price drops.
It may seem curious that Google managed to still find the lowest price 70% of the time, even though it never once included Amazon in its results. However, we postulate that this is the case because, in the deals we tested, Amazon was frequently matching the price of another vendor. Price-matching is a common impetus for Amazon to adjust what it charges, so if Google lists these competitors, it can still return the best price for a consumer without mentioning the Seattle mega store. If you prefer to buy from Amazon though, perhaps to take advantage of a Prime membership, this is still a significant omission.
With seven out of 10 searches yielding the "right answers" on Google Shopping, it looks like it's still your best bet, even if it's supposedly trying to "scroogle" consumers. But the lack of Amazon — and sometimes Walmart — reportage spoils Google as a one-stop shop for price comparison. Our suggestion? Use Google Shopping, then double check Amazon and Walmart "by hand." It's not elegant, but it'll give you the best picture of the marketplace, in terms of pricing.
Readers, have you tried Bing Product Search? Have you had any issues with Google Shopping, since it switched to the paid platform? Do you use a different site entirely to price check items while shopping? Sound off in the comment section below.