What is Google Shopping?

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Google Shopping

Once known as Product Listing Ads, Google Shopping is a advertising campaign type within Google's massive platform Google Ads.

For the E-Commerce retailer/advertiser, Google Shopping represents one of the most lucrative channels for driving customers to an online store.

When consumers search for products on Google, Shopping ads appear at the top of the results and, when clicked on, direct shoppers to the respective product landing page on one's E-Commerce website. Shoppers can then purchase that or multiple products thus leading to a conversion and sales for the advertiser/retailer.

What do Shopping ads look like? Where do they show up?

When consumers search on Google, ads can appear in 3 distinct places

Google Search

Google's main search or 'All' tab will most often show Shopping ads at the top of the page above all other search results paid and organic. For some product categories, Shopping ads can also appear on the right hand side.

Along with a product image, additional information such as price, website, and promotional text appear in Shopping ads as well. When clicked on, Shopping ads direct shoppers to the respective product landing page on an E-Commerce website.

Shopping ads also appear when shoppers search on their smartphones and include special listings such as Showcase Shopping ads.

Shopping Tab

Google has a dedicated Shopping tab which acts much more like a Comparison Search Engine (CSE). At a glance, the listing here appear just as they do in standard search.

The Shopping tab gives consumers more compare/contrast options such as filtering capabilities to find exactly what they are looking for based on criteria like price range, style, and color.

Instead of immediately redirecting shoppers to a retailer's website, when one of these results are clicked on a more comprehensive window appears which includes extra features such as competitor comparisons.

Image Tab

Shopping ads which appear in the Image search tab on Google differ slightly from those on the main search pages.

While still marked by the 'Sponsored' heading, Shopping ads in the Image tab only show the product image, price, and retailer.

Scrolling over any particular ad here, shoppers can preview other important information such as Free Shipping promotional text.

Why should I be selling on Google Shopping?

Consumers are starting their purchase journey on search engines like Google

All About Volume

Google's massive reach and control of the search engine market make it the ideal place to advertise products.

On a global scale, Google controls nearly 80% of all searches performed on the internet and in the US alone as of April 2017, Google was shown to be handling over 63% of search queries.

Past consumer surveys have revealed that as many as 35% of shoppers begin their purchase behavior on Google with over half of them using Shopping ads to find products they want.


Google Shopping falls under the PPC (pay-per-click) / SEM (search engine marketing) umbrella of digital marketing and is highly measurable with the ability to make direct correlations to ROI (return on investment.)

When used and managed properly, Google Shopping campaigns can be the most cost-effective product advertising tool for any E-Commerce business.

During a recent study in comparing Google Shopping to Text Ads, it was found that Shopping ads were over 73% more cost-effective for attracting qualified shoppers. That same study also revealed that Shopping ads drove an 8 times higher ROAS on average compared to Text Ads for online retailers using Google Shopping.

Retarget & Win

On its own, Google Shopping is already a beast for E-Commerce businesses looking to increase traffic and sales.

Couple it with specialized Remarketing campaigns such as RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Shopping Ads) and/or Dynamic Remarketing and it gets even stronger.

With Remarketing, you can target previous visitors to your store, deliver ads back to them, and entice them to come back and either complete an unfinished purchase, or purchase even more per their last visit.

We have found that retailers who take advantage of Remarketing for Google Shopping experience an average uptick in conversions of 10%, and with an over 50% cost reduction for repeat costs-to-acquire.

How do I get started on Google Shopping?

There are a few base requirements before you can list your products on Google

Merchant Center, Analytics, Google Ads

While the general prerequisite for Google Shopping is having an E-Commerce store,
retailers must have 3 specific Google accounts set up and configured properly:

Merchant Center: This is where you will upload your Product Feed which is a file containing all of your products and their associated product data, much of which is outlined by Google as requirements for Google Shopping. Merchant Center also provides diagnostics and error reporting as well, but it also connects retailers to special Google Shopping programs such as Customer Reviews.
Google Analytics: While technically not "required" to get onto Google Shopping, Analytics does provide crucial reporting for Google Shopping that you won't be able to find elsewhere. When set up properly, Google Analytics captures not only traffic data but also sales and revenue metrics for E-Commerce business owners. You can also configure Analytics for collecting Remarketing data.
Google Ads: Google's advertising platform and where Shopping campaigns can be built, structured, managed, and analyzed from. Vital campaign settings such as budgeting, geo targeting, and ad scheduling can all be applied in the Google Ads interface. Merchant Center and Google Ads must be connected and it is from Merchant Center that Google Ads uses product feed data to create Shopping campaigns.

All three core Google services are interconnected to a degree with Google Ads needing to be connected to both Merchant Center and Google Analytics.

Product Feeds & Merchant Center

Before campaigns can be created using Google Ads, retailers must first have a Merchant Center account and an approved product feed. Feeds are essentially any accepted file (such as a .TXT or .XLS format) or direct integration (API), and within that feed is a catalog of one's products and their associated information/attributes.

Feeds can be created manually, however larger retailers can also take advantage of apps/plugins from their E-Commerce provider such as with BigCommerce stores, or 3rd party feed providers.

Our team offers full service feed setup, management, and ongoing product data optimization options such as product title keyword insertion.

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Running Your Campaigns

Once you have your Merchant Center account and feed ready to go, you can move onto creating and structuring campaigns in Google Ads. Campaign structuring (also known as Subdivision in Google Ads terms) plays a pivotal role in Gooogle Shopping success.

Retailers can choose to be as broad or as granular with their campaigns, being able to focus on groups of products or build campaigns at the Pure ID-level where products can be managed and analyzed on an individual, one-by-one basis.

Our team leverages our platform to create ideally-structured Google Shopping campaigns aimed at profitability. We then provide a full suite of managed services to handle all things Google Shopping for your E-Commerce business.

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