Ecommerce business owners are always looking for ways to scale their customer acquisition. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to e-commerce or a veteran, you understand the power of Google and how it can make or break your business, from driving organic traffic through SEO efforts to leveraging paid search campaigns. One of the ways a new e-commerce business can start driving sales relatively quickly is through Google Shopping ads, also known as product listing ads (PLAs). In this guide, we’re going to cover the ins and outs of the different Google Shopping campaign types, how to set them up, how to optimize them, etc.

What Are Google Shopping Ads & How Do They Differ From Search (Keyword) Ads

Google shopping ads are the product ads that display at the top of Google Search result pages. You can view these ads directly on search pages, but you can also navigate to the Shopping tab, search partner websites, price comparison Shopping apps, and even on YouTube. 

Shopping ads are useful for shoppers and advertisers have found an increased opportunity to get in front of primed audience members.

Shopping ads are powered by Google Ads and Google Merchant Center. Within your Google Ads platform, you will be able to set budgets, bids, make optimizations and analyze insights. Your Google Merchant Center is where you can upload your product feed and update information on shipping and sales tax. 

Shopping ads are set up differently than traditional text search ads. If you were to create a search ad, you select campaigns, ad groups, ads, and then you select keywords that fit your campaign. With Shopping ads, Google uses your feed and website to identify what keywords will trigger your shopping ads to show up. This knowledge indicates the need to have a properly optimized and updated product feed. 

Why Should You Use Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping ads are highly effective. 

Google’s complex algorithms will automatically pull product data from your store and build a visual shopping ad for your product and match relevant search queries to display your products. While it may take more time initially to set your shopping ads up properly, in the long run, Google will do a lot of the work ongoing. 

Several marketers suggest organizations start with Google Shopping ads when compared to Search ads because it is harder to go wrong and less likely to blow your budget on ineffective clicks. We feel very strongly about this as well.

Below we will break down additional benefits of using Google Shopping Ads.

Rank on Top of Google Search Results

Shopping Ads are displayed above search results. 

This valuable real estate allows your product to be seen immediately, all while search ads are pushed further down the page. With a visual format in a premium spot, it is no question why Shopping ads attract more clicks. 

According to recent research, ad spend for Google Shopping increased by 38% and decreased around 12% for Search Ads within the same time period. Google Shopping accounts for 65% of all Google Ads clicks and it also accounts for 89% of all non-branded Google search ad clicks. 

Visual Real Estate

Consumers turn to google to visualize the product they would like to buy before they commit to purchasing. Think about it, would you rather click on a description of a sofa or a visual image of the dream sectional you have been searching for? 

Visual ads allow the consumer to see exactly what they are looking for before they even have to click and interact with your website. Google is a search tool that allows end users to visualize different product types, models, colors all in one place.

Positive Search Experience

Advertising is often referred to as an interruption. Shopping ads challenged this notion by creating intent-based ads.  

If I am searching for a “NorthFace Jacket”, it is great for the retailer to run a Shopping Ad that highlights this exact product I searched for. 

How Do You Get Your Products Into Google Shopping Results?

The following elements are required to start advertising on Google Shopping. 

  1. Your Store and Products
  2. Your Product Feed
  3. Google Merchant Center Account 
  4. Google Ads Account

When all of these elements are combined, they can help your Shopping Ads to work effectively. 

How to Create Your Product Feed

Google has a specific format they require product feeds to be uploaded in. That is why it can seem challenging to create a feed that will be approved. There are two approaches you can use to create your product feed for Google Shopping Ads, manually or with the assistance of an app. 

Ecommerce stores that use Shopify, WooCommerce or Magento, can download an app that will help with your product feed set up. 

Shopify – Your business can download the Google Shopping App.

WooCommerce – Your business can download the WooCommerce Google Feed Manager.

Magento – Your business can download the Google Shopping – M2 App

BigCommerce – Your business can download the GoDataFeed App

If the product feed exported from your ecommerce site is not in good shape, you can consult Google’s guideline for editing guidance.  

Smart Shopping Campaign vs Standard: The Biggest Differences

The stark difference between smart and standard shopping campaigns is that Smart Shopping campaigns are automated. They are able to take existing shopping campaigns and us artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize the campaign to deliver ads to strategic audiences. 

Below we break down the features of smart and standard shopping campaigns. 

What Is A Smart Shopping Campaign?

Google Smart Shopping campaigns use automation for bidding, targeting, and placement. This means your organization can set up a campaign and it will run with nearly zero maintenance required. 

Artificial intelligence will automatically test different images and text to find the right combinations to display for peak performance. This means your ads are constantly being monitored for relevance and effectiveness. 

The downside to Google Smart Shopping campaigns is that you can only use one landing page per campaign and that you will have limited control over what you can change and promote due to the automation. 

What Is a Standard Shopping Campaign?

Google Shopping enables end-users to search, compare and shop from a variety of retailers that pay to have Google advertise their products online. 

Let’s say you are interested in buying a black dress. The simple way to shop online is by typing “black dress” into Google and browsing the hundreds of retailers that offer a black dress. These listings allow the consumer to immediately compare design, price, and brand names without having to visit each site individually. 

A standard shopping campaign allows you to promote your product while maintaining control over bid strategies and placement. 

How To Setup A Standard Shopping Ad Campaign

After you have linked your Google AdWords account with your Google Merchant Center Account, you will be able to create Standard Shopping Campaigns to advertise your products. 

There are two easy ways to create a Google Shopping Campaign. The first is directly building campaigns within the Google Merchant Center. 

Simply click “Create Shopping Campaign” and from there you will be able to name your campaign, indicate the country of sale, and set up a daily budget. After you have indicated your preferences you can save the campaign and you will be directed to further monitor the campaign within Google Ad Account. 

The other way to set up a Shopping Campaign is to directly build the campaign within Google AdWords. You will need to log in to your account, open the Campaigns tab from the left-hand menu, and click the blue plus icon and then select New Campaign.

After you select “New Campaign” you will be prompted to select the goal between sales, leads or website traffic. After the goal selection is made, you will have the ability to designate the campaign type as Shopping. This will make sure your Google Merchant Center account is displayed and will also indicate your country of sale. 

How To Setup A Smart Shopping Campaign

To set up a Google Smart Shopping Campaign, you will need to navigate within your Google AdWords account to the Campaigns tab. You will select the blue plus icon to create a new campaign. You will then be prompted to select a campaign goal of leads, sales or website traffic. After you make your selection you will indicate this is a Shopping Campaign. 

Smart Shopping campaigns will require your organization to set up conversion tracking. This allows AdWords to track when your ads result in a sale, so they can better optimize their ad placements for conversions. 

How To Setup A Smart Shopping Campaign In Shopify

Since most of our clients run on Shopify, I thought I’d include a little bonus section on how to set up a campaign right inside of Shopify. It’s actually rather easy…

Once logged into Shopify, navigate to the sales channel section and click on Google.

Next, under the marketing section, click create campaign and fill out the name of the campaign and daily budget. That’s seriously it.

How To Optimize Your Product Listing Feed For Maximum Visibility

Below we will break down specific ways to optimize your product listing feed for maximum visibility to your Google Shopping ads. 

Optimize Product Titles

Providing more relevant information within your Google product feed, will help increase CTR and ad relevance. 

A simple way to do this is to include popular product-related search queries directly into your product titles. According to a recent research study, marketers found a 147% increase in impressions and 67% increase in clicks through by simply optimizing their product titles with popular keywords. 

Optimize Product Price 

If you are noticing low click-through rates, this could indicate your product is not competitive. Remember your products are displayed directly next to your competitors, so a competitive price can lure consumers to your shop. Reversely, if you are selling a similar product and you have a higher price, end-users will purchase from the cheaper reseller.

A few things to consider to make better use of product pricing. 

  • Identify the products with low CTR and check to see if your price is competitive. 
  • Review your direct competitor’s price to see if there are big differences. 
  • If there is a significant gap, are you able to make up for it?
  • If you cannot match the price, consider lowering your cost per click to avoid paying for clicks that won’t convert.

Optimize Product Images

Stores will often use variations of product images to stand out amongst the crowd of sellers. This allows ecommerce sites to stand out, leading to an increase in clicks and hopefully. 

Depending on the size of your product catalog, updating product images can potentially be a big expense, however, we’ve found that investing in new product photography that looks just a little bit different than everything else out there can drive significant traffic leading to an increase in conversions and revenue dollars. 

How To Organize Your Products

If you have a small data feed, think under 300 products, it is best to organize your ad groups all the way down to the product level. You may start segmenting by brand first, followed by category, and lastly product ID. 

If you have a large data feed, segmenting all the way to product ID may be difficult so optimization can be segmented down to products that have similar profit margins. 

It is critical to understand the way you organize ad groups has no relationship to whether or not Google will display your ads. Product groups help you set bids.

Bidding Tips

  • When you first start shopping campaigns, start your bids between $0.50 and $1.00. Monitor performance and tweak as you gather more data. 
  • If you have a category of uncategorized products, it is best to bid lower than specifically named groups. This will help guide traffic to your most popular products. 
  • Include geographic bid modifiers to strategically bid in high-value regions and bid down in low-value regions. 

How To Setup Your Conversion Tracking

Conversion data is critical to creating properly optimized campaigns that generate a meaningful return on your investment. Without conversion tracking properly implemented, you won’t be able to use Smart Bidding and Smart Campaigns.

It is recommended to use the Google Ads conversion code as the sole source of conversion data, instead of using a third-party import of conversion data. An example of importing conversions may include Google Analytics. When you use this source, you run into the potential problem of under-reporting because your Google Ads may have their default set as last-click attribution. 

When you set up any smart campaigns in the future, you will want Google to use the most accurate information as they optimize their algorithm to get you conversions and leads. 

Consult this resource for more detailed instructions on Google Ads conversion tracking for Shopify

How To Target Similar Audiences

Setting up effective ads relies heavily on who you target. Google Shopping allows advertisers to use Similar Audiences to attract new visitors to your site by using artificial intelligence to match individuals who share similar search and browsing behaviors as your current remarketing list. 

Benefits of Using Similar Audiences for Google Shopping

Simple Audience Targeting – Similar Audiences make it easy for you to build new audiences that are relevant and effective. By matching data of your current remarketing list, you are taking out the guesswork of whether the new audience is qualified. 

New Potential Customers – Similar Audiences allow you to increase the reach of your current remarketing campaigns. It creates qualified customer profiles and drives new prospects to your site. You will experience an increased likelihood of these prospects visiting your site and purchasing. 

How To Add Rich Content (Product Reviews & Promotions)

Product description pages are used to highlight your product’s features, benefits, and product reviews. You can create rich content for product description pages by uploading rich product data via the Content API. 

Benefits of uploading rich data:

  • Improving end-user experience by offering more detailed product descriptions. 
  • Increasing customer trust by sharing more product information.
  • Increase conversions through simple product benefit displays.

To learn more about how to add rich data to your Content API, review Google’s Rich Product Data Guide

How To Use Your Product Feed For Dynamic Remarketing Ads

If you are looking to set up a dynamic remarketing campaign with ads on Shopping, you will need to navigate within Google Ads to all campaigns and select the new campaign button. Select sales from the goal option and indicate whether you would like to run a smart or standard shopping campaign.

From there you will navigate to the budget field and click additional settings to select dynamic ads. Click the box and select a feed you would like to use. 

Next, you will scroll down until you see Audiences; select how the user interacted with your business. After this, you will visit the Ad Creation section and select responsive ads and complete the ad creation. 

Once you save, you will be ready to advertise.

Wrapping Up

Google Shopping is a great advertising tool to get in front of audiences through a visual shopping experience. Shoppers can search what they are looking for and visually see different brands, products, and styling all on one screen. 

If you have been hesitant to advertise with Google Shopping, consider adding this tool to your marketing stack. You will be able to drive qualified traffic, generate leads and make sales you otherwise might have missed. Use this guide as a tool to help get your Shopping ads created properly, so you can see a boost to your eCommerce sales. 

Looking for some help with your shopping ads or your paid search? Schedule a consultation with us today and let’s see what we can do for your business! Not quite ready but curious what makes a good Stryde client, check out our ideal client description.

I left Florida for Utah’s mountains in 2007. My passions are making pizza, mountain biking, skiing, and making movie props (ask me about my helmets). My tips for being happier include drinking more water, eating more vegetables, sleeping 7-8 hours, and finding opportunities to exercise outside. I love accountable, responsible marketing. I’m not happy until I get results or answers for my clients.