Overview of Google Shopping Ads
Since 2012, Google Shopping Ads has become an important lifeline for many eCommerce stores around the world. These are product advertisements that Google features at the top of a search engine result page (SERP).
Typically they include the product image, price, title, and a link to a landing page for quick checkout. Google Shopping Ads is an integral part of the Google Shopping franchise. It has emerged as a major tool where paid listings are showcased by eCommerce brands to drive up sales.
This article elaborates broadly on how to create Google Shopping ads and its many advantages for an eCommerce business.
How do Google Shopping Ads Work?
At its core, Google Shopping Ads are paid visual ads that appear mostly below the search bar whenever a user searches for a commodity. Because of its visual appeal and strategic location in the SERP, the Shopping ad is one of the most clickable formats in the Google Advertising family.
For an eCommerce retailer, it is essential to know that two Google branches control the Shopping Ads: Google Merchant Center and Google Ads. The foremost requirement of a Shopping Ad is to catalog all the products intended for sale, also known as product feed.
Unlike traditional text advertisements, Shopping Ads don’t require biddings on keywords. Instead, merchants create a Google Merchant Center and Ads accounts to store the product feed and create a Shopping campaign.
Whenever a user searches for a product, Google’s algorithm pulls data from the product feed. It then displays the item in the designated space on Google search according to the listings made by the retailer.
When consumers click on the advertisement, Google directs them to the product landing page while charging a price for doing so. Retailers can specify this price in their bidding.
A more detailed account of how to create a Google Ad is presented below.
6-Steps to Create a Google Shopping Ad
1) Know the Basics
The starting point of any Google Shopping ad begins by creating three necessary accounts. It is mandatory to sign up for all three accounts to run an ad:
Here are the details on creating these accounts:
Google Merchant Center Account
The Merchant Center is Google’s dashboard where an eCommerce company keeps its listings, product information, and business details. In other words, it acts as a database containing all the products of a business that it wishes to sell to Google’s users.
Having an account with the Merchant Center ensures that their inventory appears across multiple Google products. This includes Google Maps, Images, YouTube, and, more importantly, Google Search. This account holds the information or product feed critical in creating a Google Shopping ad campaign.
Merchants with an eCommerce storefront in Shopify or BigCommerce can directly integrate their shops with the Merchant Center. With a direct connection, products will automatically be updated. Alternatively, retailers can choose to upload their inventory via spreadsheets manually.
For brands owning a website, integration can be done from their domain registrar account by simply giving access to Google. The option to connect is also available in the Merchant Center.
Google Ads Account
Google Ads (formerly AdWords) is the home of all Google advertisements, including Shopping Ads. For those unaware, Google Ads is a marketing platform operating on a Pay-Per-Click model. In other words, merchants display the products as advertisements and pay as and when an interested shopper clicks on them.
Therefore, having a Google Ads account is a must to create and control Shopping Campaigns. A campaign is what a merchant designs to showcase their products in their specified budget. It includes ad content, product pricing, and listings appearing on Google Search or Google Shopping.
Once eCommerce retailers create a Google Ads account, they can link it to the Merchant Center on its dashboard. Only the Google Ad Customer ID is needed.
Google Analytics is a user data repository that informs the account holder about user interaction with their website and content. Retailers can sign up for a Google Analytics account with their email address, similar to the Google Ads account.
Google Analytics is the best way to measure any Shopping campaign’s performance and track different KPIs in-depth. This insight is usually not present with unpaid Shopping advertisements in the Google Merchant Account.
2) Set up a Product Feed for Targeted Products
A Product Feed, as mentioned above, involves all the inventory data a merchant wants to sell via Google Shopping Ads. The key to a successful Shopping Ad begins with a meticulous feed. This is especially important since Google bots crawl this feed and the product pages to match them with the user search queries based on product attributes.
Google presents a list of feed requirements. The critical ones include product title, description, images, price, Google product category, and website URL.
Retailers can create manual product feeds using Google spreadsheets and keying the necessary information. This approach is best for limited SKUs. Otherwise, they can use different plugins and tools like GoDataFeed to create their feed synthetically.
The final step is to upload this feed into the merchant center. In principle, the feed is tied to the retailer’s country and demography and has to be specified before uploading it.
3) Connect with Google AdWords Account
As hinted above, linking the company’s Google Merchant account with its AdWords account is essential. Account creation varies according to two modes: smart mode and expert mode. In the smart mode, retailers create an account by starting a shopping campaign.
You can forgo campaign creation to set up the account in expert mode. However, you must state business information like billing country, currency, and time zone. The expert mode requires advanced marketing skills and complex management best suited to professionals. Signing up for the accounts is free, though campaigns require expenditure.
4) Choose a Relevant Shopping Ad Campaign
Shopping campaigns designate the way advertisements are created and displayed to targeted audiences at a set price. Campaigns are designed in the Google Ads dashboard and require a name, target country, and a daily budget.
Retailers have to specify the campaign goal. Goals can be increasing sales, attracting website traffic, or generating leads. Whichever the goal, the campaign type remains “Shopping.” Merchants can choose a campaign subtype: Performance Max Ads, Standard Shopping Ads, and Local Inventory Ads.
Here we take a detailed look at Performance Max Ads which are gaining more popularity from eCommerce merchants:
Performance Max Ads
Performance Max is a smart campaign mode, i.e., one that uses Google automation to locate potential customers in all verticals. This goes beyond Google Search and includes Gmail, Discover, Maps, YouTube, and Google Display.
It is goal-centric and enables you to target specific conversion goals, such as driving online sales or generating leads. With Performance Max, you can access all inventory from a singular campaign.
By pairing Performance Max with Smart Bidding, Google optimizes Shopping Ads in real time. This campaign requires naming it and adding a description in the ‘ad builder’ section. Next is alloting a daily budget and selecting your bidding strategy (more on this below).
Thereafter, you move on to the Campaign setting for stating the language, location, and landing page URL. The final stage requires detailing ad assets like the description.
Standard Shopping Ads
Unlike Performance Max, the Standard Shopping Ads campaign lacks enhanced conversion goals or automation support. However, it is well suited for new advertisers testing the waters.
The way to create this campaign is similar to Performance Max to an extent, such as naming it and selecting the feed from a Merchant Center account.
You can limit the number of products shown, add a custom tracking URL, and select bidding type and daily budget. You can also customize the network and devices where the ads appear, set campaign priority, and create ad group names.
Local Inventory Ads (LIA)
For eCommerce merchants having a brick-and-mortar store, local inventory ads grab the attention of local traffic. It also geo-targets shoppers in the proximity of the shop area to usher more foot traffic.
Most LIAs have messages embedded in the advertisement, such as “Curbside Pick-up” or “Pick up today,” signaling local inventory availability.
You can enable LIAs from their Merchant Center account by formulating a local inventory feed and requesting verification. Thereafter, you can proceed with a local inventory ad campaign in the Google Ads account.
5) Determine a Bidding System
Bids and budgets comprise the financial aspect of a shopping ad. Bids can be regarded as Google auctions. You pay a certain amount to display your products in a definite space to a target audience and fulfill your campaign goals.
Shopping Ad bids are placed on product groups or sub-categories, not keywords. Google has developed several bidding strategies by observing the different motivations retailers have toward advertising. These include conversions, impressions, clicks, or views. Google offers both manual and smart bidding systems.
In manual bidding, retailers specify the maximum amount they are willing to pay for each click (Pay-per-click). They also adjust bids according to the ad’s stats and performance.
In smart bidding, Google adjusts the bids automatically depending on the likelihood of a user clicking on the ad. Because it analyzes scores of signals in a nanosecond, it works in real-time to bring potential buyers closer to your products.
It is recommended to use the Smart Bidding system and prioritize either Maximum Conversion Value or Targeted ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). Both these bidding strategies focus on increasing conversion or sales.
6) Create Ad Groups and Run the Campaign
Ad groups are a signal to organize your inventory into two promotion categories. One is called ‘Product Shopping,’ which involves single product listing ads. This is the most commonly used ad group.
The second is ‘Showcase Shopping.’ It is a newer format launched for a limited number of countries. This promotion technique clubs a group of similar products together to represent your brand. Ad groups also require you to set a bid.
5 Best Practices for Running a Successful Google Shopping Ad
Creating a Shopping Ad is a hands-on learning skill that retailers cultivate as they train, experiment, and practice with ads. It takes more than technical prowess to launch a successful ad campaign. Here we list a handful of best practices that you can apply in your ad planning phase:
1) Pick Search-Intent Specific Keywords
Though Shopping Ads do not run on keywords, they remain a crucial component in the ad design process. Keywords must be carefully selected and tactfully used in the product feed and campaigns, like product descriptions and titles.
By using search intent-specific keywords, brands can maximize their chances of bots recognizing the relevancy of the product to a user’s search query.
On this note, it is vital to reduce negative keywords. These are keywords that have little to no influence on user purchase behavior. Google has a list of such keywords that retailers can look at. Google Analytics is an excellent place to begin with negative keyword research.
2) Carefully Select A Google Listing
Google extends two listings types, free and paid. Free listings can be an optimal choice for a new eCommerce brand with a limited marketing budget. However, to reap the highest results in conversions, it is recommended to consider paid listings or paid product placements.
3) Optimize Ad for Mobile View
Almost half of all search queries Google receives comes from mobiles. This means brands can capture significant traffic if they optimize Google Shopping Ads for mobiles or tablets.
In fact, Google already enables device bids to steer ads toward mobile searches and users. This optimization is particularly useful to companies with mobile-compatible websites.
4) Preliminary Research and Conversion Strategy
Conducting preliminary research for keywords, audiences, pricing, or bidding strategies is a sure-proof way of not jeopardizing your ad campaigns. Several tools, websites, blogs, videos, and other resources are available to enhance your knowledge.
Google’s Keyword Planner, Reach Planner, Analytics, Ad Manager, and Looker Studios are all valuable sources with tons of data insights, guidelines, and management tips.
Similarly, it is wise to analyze and evaluate conversion data to understand the efficiency of your ad campaign. For this task, you can always rely on Google Ads tracking and conversion code.
5) Optimize the Landing Page
The landing page refers to your shopping cart, or the website users are directed to from your ad. Ideally, they should land on your checkout page for a seamless and successful purchase.
Or you can also link your product description page to highlight the product details and market associated products. But optimizing your landing page is a must.
5 Advantages of Google Shopping Ad for eCommerce Merchants
There are many advertisement types available such as Search ads, Display ads, or Video ads. In that lot, Google Shopping Ads provide some unique advantages:
1) Top Rank on SERPs
Shopping Ads are reserved to appear on the top of any result page. It precedes text-based ads and organic search results. This brings it to the forefront of any consumer looking for a particular product or service.
Most importantly, customers unaware of your brand would discover you through shopping ads.
2) Increase ROI
Shopping Ads have one of the leading clickthrough rates (CTR) of any other ad format. The CTR counts the number of clicks an ad receives over the number of times it is shown. A high CTR represents a high ROI on ad spending.
Recent statistics show that Google Shopping ad has an average conversion rate of 1.9% and an average CTR is 0.86%, while the average cost-per-click (CPC) is $0.66. With a low CPC, the ROI of Shopping Ads is the best among all Google Ads.
3) Qualified Leads and Conversions
By combining visuals with rich-text descriptions, Shopping Ads greatly inform a consumer’s decision-making process. It appeals to customers with high purchase intent.
4) Target a Broader Customer Base
With Google Performance Max, eCommerce retailers reach customers at multiple points. This goes beyond search results and YouTube ads to include business profiles, Google Display Network, and Gmail.
5) Outperform Text Ads
The saying ‘show, don’t tell’ perfectly applies to Shopping Ads. On average, Shopping Ads have a 25% higher conversion rate than text-based ads. Consequently, the higher click-through rate of Shopping Ads lowers the CPC more than text ads.
Google Shopping Ads has become a buzzword in eCommerce marketing. These are high-impact based ads that target any buyer’s purchasing intent.
With beautiful visuals and information-rich descriptions placed in the spotlight, Shopping Ads naturally have high conversion rates. It is undoubtedly one of the best marketing tools for any eCommerce brand.
1) What is Google’s Smart Shopping Campaign?
Smart Shopping Campaign uses machine learning to automatically create ads from the merchant’s product feed. This automated system intelligently locates and places the audience over relevant Google surfaces. It requires the product feed and bidding budget from retailers.
2) How do Google Shopping Ads differ from Google Search Ads?
The Shopping Ads are visual-textual, while Search ads are only text-based. Moreover, the way respective campaigns are created differs. Shopping ads require product feed, and bids are made on products or product categories. For Search ads, the bids are made on keywords.