• From Bloomberg:
"Google will make product listings on its shopping service free, part of a broader push to expand in e-commerce and mount a bigger challenge to Amazon.com as the COVID-19 pandemic drives more consumers online.
"The Alphabet unit will let merchants post their wares on Google Shopping for free regardless of whether they pay for Google ads. Before, these listings were all sponsored, meaning merchants paid Google every time someone clicked through to their website from a Google product listing.
"The move may reduce advertising revenue initially, but it could also entice more merchants to use Google Shopping in the long term. The company turned the service into a paid product in 2012 and it has grown into a huge business, generating billions of dollars in highly profitable revenue."
The story notes that Google "will still sell shopping ads, which will give merchants the option to appear in paid slots above the free listings. Product ads will also continue to appear on the main Google search results page, while the free listings will only show up in the less-popular Shopping search tab."
• The 2020 SXSW Film Festival may have been cancelled by the pandemic, but Amazon has confirmed its plans to show some 40 shorts, features and episodic programs - all of them available to all Amazon customers, not just Prime members.
Variety writes that "the virtual festival will stream from April 27 through May 6," though it notes that the move is somewhat controversial. "Giving any Amazon user access to unsold, independently financed content for over a week was seen by many as a deterrent to buyers, who need exclusivity to motivate customers to watch new movies," the story says.