How to Set Up a Google Shopping Ads Campaign

If you want your products to be discovered online, there are two avenues you can go down: Amazon or Google.
Statistics point out that, when it comes to product searches on the internet, a whopping 85% of these begin on either Amazon or Google. Simply put, if you’re not using one – or both – of these, you’re putting the proverbial handcuffs on your potential to generate sales.
It might come as a surprise, but Amazon makes up the larger chunk of the search pie – 49% of people use it as their platform for product discovery. With such a commanding share of the market, it might make some marketers wonder why Google’s 36% share is worth targeting over Jeff Bezos’ retail empire.
There are several reasons why going with Google is more advantageous than Amazon. For a start, trying to build up any worthwhile connections or loyalty is a serious challenge on Amazon. Google, however, is a platform that delivers freedom with its Google Shopping Ads and search function. Consequently, it allows a business to develop valuable connections with their customers.
With the importance of Google Shopping outlined, it makes sense why you have landed on this post. This comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know about Google Shopping Ads, including an explanation of how it works and the best way to implement it for your products. Once you have added the following knowledge to your marketing repertoire, you will be in a stronger position to develop a more successful e-commerce store.

What are Google Shopping Ads?

Before breaking down the ads portion of the equation, it’s essential to understand what Google Shopping is as a whole. In general, it is a comparison shopping engine. When you input a certain term into Google, it will bring up ads with relevant products. These ads will typically be positioned to the top or side of search results, taking up prime real estate during those precious Google search results.

The ads are displayed in a visually appealing manner, much more than your standard Google results, which are simply text-based. When a user clicks on one of the displayed ads, they are taken directly to the product page.

Below is an example of when the term ‘laptop’ is entered into Google:

Google Shopping Ads

As you can see from the image above, Google Shopping Ads have a much more significant visual impact. This isn’t merely down to the attention-grabbing product image, either. All of the items are placed within a dedicated box. The ads also list the product title, the retailer’s name, and the price. You may also find ads that include further details like reviews and shipping costs.

How do Google Shopping Ads work?

As you would expect, Google Shopping Ads function in a different way than your standard Search Ads.

The process all begins with your product feed. The product feed is the central component of any Google Shopping campaign. In short, the feed is a large spreadsheet that includes your product data. Google’s algorithms will then process this information – the product titles, descriptions, prices, images, etc. – and use it to match up with applicable search queries. Along with this, Google will use the data to produce the actual ads.

Once Google has put in the work, it’s up to potential customers for the next step. When they type in relevant search inquiries into Google, your products will then appear in the results. If they are enticed by an advert describing one of your products, they will click on the ad – which will, in turn, transport them to your online store.

If you require any further explanation of how Google Shopping Ads work, here’s a quick example.

Let’s say you run a business that sells music-themed apparel. To bring more eyes to your product line, you launch a Shopping Ads campaign.

  1. Create a product feed that includes all of the necessary product data information. Supply this feed to Google. Your products are now ready to be found via search queries.
  2. A potential customer types “The Beatles t-shirt” into Google.
  3. Now the Google algorithms kick into action. They search for relevant products to match up with the query. The result: a Beatles-related t-shirt is selected from your store. A Shopping Ad will be created for your product, and it’ll be listed alongside other relevant ads.
  4. The potential customer browses through the products listed by Google. They decide your Beatles t-shirt is the one that appeals most, and they click on your product ad. The potential customer is taken to the product listing on your website.
  5. Once completed, Google will charge you for that click.

As for the fee imposed by Google, you might be shocked at the number. The reason for this is simple: the cost of a Shopping Ad is typically cheaper than a regular Search Ad.

That’s right: according to research conducted by WordStream, the average Cost Per Click (CPC) for Shopping Ads is $0.66. This is much cheaper than the CPC average for Search Ads, which sits at $1.16 for online retailers.

Google Shopping Ads

However, there is a reason why the CPC costs less for Google Shopping Ads as opposed to regular Search Ads. The conversion rate is, perhaps surprisingly, less for Shopping Ads. With a conversion rate of 1.91% for Shopping Ads, it is almost an entire one percent less than e-commerce-related Search Ads (2.81%).

With that said, these figures are simply the average. There is plenty of potential with Shopping Ads, and it only takes a few tweaks here and there for conversion rates to shoot up. Combined with their inexpensive CPC rates, and there’s a reason why this type of paid ad can be so effective.

The reasons to use Google Shopping Ads

This guide has already touched upon some of the advantages of Google Shopping Ads. However, it is always worth reiterating these benefits – especially if you require that extra bit of reassurance before jumping into this form of marketing!

You land at the top of Google search results

Simply put, if you’re willing to invest in Shopping Ads, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your products are landing at the very top of Google search results – ensuring you receive maximum visibility in the process.

This type of prominence can be vital in the world of search. Real estate for positions at the top of Google results is notoriously fierce, so a premium position will generate an ample amount of clicks for your products.

The effectiveness of Shopping Ads hasn’t been lost on savvy marketers, either. Based on research from Merkle in 2019, spend numbers on Google Shopping Ads increased by 38% in total.

Google Shopping Ads

A visual representation

People love visual content. There is a wide range of statistics which back this up, both marketing based and scientific-based. Take this stat as an example: compared to text, images are processed 60,000 times faster by the human brain.

With this in mind, it makes sense to opt for Shopping Ads over the more traditional kind on Google. Consider the following example:

see phone mobile buy

Now there are two types of adverts displayed. Yet be honest – did you notice anything beyond that row of Shopping Ads?

When someone is searching for a product via a Google search, they will tend to know what they’re looking for. So when a Shopping Ad displays the right product picture, chances are high they will click on that ad from the start. Why would they begin reading text-based ads if the solution is already staring them in the face?

Not only that, but Shopping Ads can also be seen as a research tool of sorts. If a consumer is looking for something, but they’re not quite sure what it is, the imagery of the product listing might be able to solve the problem.

They provide a solution

…Rather than an annoying interruption.

Very few people like to have their viewing or browsing experience being bogged down by advertisements. When you watch a gripping drama on television, the last thing you want is a block of adverts snapping the tension. Even a five-second ad on a YouTube video can cause your blood pressure to rise. As long as adverts have been around, their entire strategy was based around interruption.

That’s not the case with a Shopping Ad. In fact, it is very much the opposite. This form of ad exists to deliver a solution, to rectify the intent of a potential customer. If you spot a Shopping Ad on Google, it’s because you made a search query – and that ad is there to supply an answer.

Less risk involved

At least, that is when they are compared to traditional Search Ads.

There are various ways in which a Search Ad can go wrong. You have to produce the advert manually, which means selecting the keywords you think will be most effective for your product range. In addition, you have to write the ad copy with the hope it will persuade potential customers to visit your store. Get this wrong, and you could burn a massive hole through your marketing budget – and receive nothing in return.

With a Shopping Ad, however, Google carries a lot of the load for you. There’s no need to write up your own ads or begin a keyword research campaign. Once you have put together the product feed, you can sit back and let the Google algorithms do their job.

A guide to getting started with Google Shopping Ads

You know what Google Shopping Ads are, how they work, and the benefits they bring to the table. Now it’s time to learn how to implement this form of advertising into your marketing campaign.

Fortunately, the process is relatively straightforward – especially with this handy guide by your side. You just need to demonstrate care and attention when going through the following steps.

Step one: Create a Google Merchant Center account

For a small number of people, this step can be skipped. Yet if you don’t currently have a Google Merchant Center account, you will have to sign up for one. With this account, you can upload your product feed – more on that in the next step.

Going back to the Google Merchant Center, you can sign up for an account by visiting: https://www.google.com/retail/solutions/merchant-center/.

Simply go through the provided steps. Keep in mind that, in conjunction with signing up, you will also need to both claim and verify the domain for your online store. This is simple enough to do, with three methods available:

Step two: Create your product feed

Putting together your product feed is arguably the most frustrating element of a Shopping Ads campaign. Yet it is also the heart of your campaign, so it’s a part that requires due diligence – otherwise, it could cause issues later on.

Remember that the product feed is effectively a large spreadsheet that features your product data. In terms of what data is incorporated, the list includes:

  • The product’s unique ID
  • Product title
  • Product description
  • URL link to product page
  • URL link to image of product
  • Product availability
  • Product price

For a full list, you can visit the Merchant Center product data specification page. This link will also detail the format your information needs to be in. Google is fairly strict when it comes to formatting, so it’s vital that you get it right from the start. If you did get it wrong, Google will disapprove of the products – meaning you will be blocked from advertising them with Shopping Ads. If you correct the errors, however, you’re free to advertise the products again.

When it comes to putting together your product feed, there are two general routes you can take. The first is to go with a manual approach. This can be done by creating a spreadsheet and inputting all relevant information for each product. Fortunately, the spreadsheet template is provided by Google with the right headers in place and instructions on how to fill out the product information. While it is ultimately an effective way of doing things, it is far from the most convenient.

Google Merchant

The other route is where convenience is delivered in abundance. Thanks to the power of technology, your feed can be generated by using a specialist tool, app, or extension. The type you choose will be dependent on which platform you’re using for your online store. For example, if your website uses Shopify, you can go with the Google Shopping app. This will assist with massively reducing the amount of time needed to get your product feed up and running.

Sometimes, an app or extension will come up with something you never want to see: an error message. This can happen if your product feed is in bad shape. Thankfully, the apps/extensions that export your data will tend to let you know if there’s an issue.

If you require some additional back-end work before your product feed is acceptable, don’t worry: there are various specialist tools available to solve the issues. These include Channable and DataFeedWatch.

Step three: The product feed and uploading it to Google Merchant Center

Your Google Merchant Center account is ready. Your product feed is ready. Now you need to bring the two together.

How this is done depends on how the Google Merchant Center is connected to your store’s platform. If the connection is made via an API – such as when Shopify is used – then the product data is sent to Google Merchant Center automatically.

That means your work is already complete.

If you don’t have this luxury, however, you will have to send the data manually. Don’t worry, though – this is straightforward to do!

First, click the “Products” button located in the GMC navigation menu, then “Feeds.”

On the Feeds page, click the blue button (the one with the plus sign), located directly under “Primary feeds.”

Primary feeds

Then it’s a case of following the instructions laid out by Google.

For a more illustrative look at how to get your product feed set up, you can watch the following video created by Google:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq2VlBbqTL4

Once the products have been uploaded, click on the “Diagnostics” tab.

Google suspending your account

Now you will likely have a few errors the first time your product feed is added. Don’t be put off by this – it’s a common occurrence. However, use it as a prompt to eliminate the listed errors. If you leave the most urgent errors – aka the red ones – to linger, it could lead to Google suspending your account.

Before you can proceed with your campaign, there are two aspects to configure with your product feed. Firstly, you will have to detail the shipping costs of your products. If your business is within the US, your tax settings will also need to be configured to fall in line with local regulations.

Step four: Create your Google Shopping Ads campaign

It’s the moment everyone has been waiting for – the actual creation of your Google Shopping Ads campaign!

For this to happen, you will require a Google Ads account. If you’ve yet to create an account, you can do so by visiting this link. Alternatively, it can be done through your Google Merchant Center account.

On the Google Ads dashboard, you will find the “Campaigns” section on the left side page menu. Once on the Campaigns page, select the blue plus sign to begin creating a “New campaign.”

dashboard

When you’re directed to “Select a campaign type,” pick “Shopping” and click the “Next” button.

Select a campaign type

At this stage, you have a decision to make: Smart Shopping or Standard Shopping.

Both of these options have their advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a quick breakdown of each:

  • Smart Shopping: This is the option for those who are comfortable with Google controlling their campaign. This is because Smart Shopping is a ‘complete out-the-box’ platform, meaning there’s little scope to improve or modify its performance. Smart Shopping supplies a considerable reach potential, with your campaign potentially appearing on the Search Network, Search Partners, Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail networks.
  • Standard Shopping: Despite its name, Standard Shopping actually supplies a greater level of customizability and control than its Smart counterpart. For example, you can set a max CPC for every product – Smart Shopping only automates it. You also gain added insights into audience data and search terms. One negative with Standard Shopping, at least depending on how you view it, is your reach is limited to the Search Network.

Once you have selected one of these options, you will need to complete the campaign by filling in various advertising preferences. These include:

  • Campaign name.
  • Merchant – The Google Merchant Center account that features the product feed you want to advertise.
  • Country of sale – Pick the country where you will be primarily selling and delivering your products. Ads will only show to users from that country.
  • Inventory filler – This is used if you want to limit the number of products featured in your ad campaign.
  • Bidding – Pick the method of bidding to utilize for your campaign.
  • Daily budget – The amount of money you’re willing to spend each day on the campaign. $10 is a nice starting point to test the waters. You can change this at any point during the campaign.
  • Campaign priority – This only requires adjustment if you’re using multiple campaigns to promote the same product. More information for campaign priority can be found here.
  • Networks – If you want to remove your ads from a specific network – such as YouTube – untick the relevant box to exclude it from your campaign.
  • Devices – Select the type of devices you want your ads to appear on. You can, for instance, go strictly for mobile devices if you desire.
  • Locations – This offers the chance to limit your ads to being displayed in specific locations.
  • Local inventory ads – If your campaign is to include items sold at local shops, you will need to adjust the local inventory

A more thorough explanation of these points can be found on Google’s “Create a Shopping campaign” page.

Before you are finished with setting up, you need to pick the right ad group for your campaign. There are two choices available: Product Shopping or Showcase Shopping.

Product Shopping
  • Product Shopping: By selecting this group, you are creating individual ads for your products. Google automatically creates these as it utilizes your Merchant Center account product information.
  • Showcase Shopping: This groups together your related products and advertises them as a general search term. As an example, say your business is one that sells running shoes, and you want to advertise your women’s range. When a potential customer types ‘women’s running shoes’ into Google, they will be faced with your Showcase Shopping ad that includes every relatable women’s running shoes product on your website.

When you have selected an ad group type, fill in the rest of the settings, click “Save,” and your campaign will be created.

Now it’s time for the real work to begin.

How to optimize your Google Shopping Ads

Remember that previous point about how conversion rates for Search Ads are higher than Shopping Ads on average? This stat can often be attributed to the fact that marketers don’t put enough effort into optimizing their Google Shopping Ads. Ultimately, there’s more to it than simply setting up a campaign, slapping down a daily budget, and hoping for the best.

Here are a few methods for ensuring your ads perform at their best.

Pick the right image

When you think about the importance of visuals with Shopping Ads, it makes sense that this is one area that requires particular attention. Selecting the right image for your product can be the difference-maker in someone clicking on your ad – or skipping it for another.

If you’re wondering what quantifies as the ‘right’ image, conduct a spot of market research. Do a quick Google search of your own and see what product images appear. Which ones stand out? Why are they grabbing your attention?

By doing this research, you can implement any newfound knowledge into your own images.

Maximize the text you’re given

It’s true: you’re provided very little in the way of text for your Shopping Ads. However, it’s essential you maximize the potential of what you’re given.

This means optimizing your product title. Simply changing or adding a few words to the title description can go a long way to enhancing conversion numbers. Take a look at this example after typing “iPhone charger” into Google:

iPhone charger

As you can see, the first result didn’t merely settle for ‘iPhone charger’ as its title. They have put in considerable effort to pack in as much information as possible within the limited space given. It includes words such as “official,” “lightning cable,” “iPad cable,” and “1 meter” – the type of crucial information that people are hoping to see following their search query.

If you fit in the right keywords with your product titles, you have a higher chance of standing out from the competition and getting people to click on your ads.

Also, if you have any additional information that can be included – such as an offer of free shipping – ensure this is included with the ad. Promotions always work well with enticing visitors, so don’t leave this marketing strategy out of your Shopping Ads campaign.

Get the bid right

If your ads are not producing the results you expected, this could be down to your budget and the current amount you’re bidding.

It goes without saying, but the higher you bid, the more exposure your ad is going to receive. If the product listing isn’t currently grabbing any clicks, it might be wise to raise your bid for that added exposure boost.

Just keep in mind not to go overboard in that regard. If you understand the value of your customers, you’ll have a greater understanding of what you can bid – and avoid operating at a loss.

Choose your keywords carefully

With Google Shopping Ads, you have the power to exclude certain keywords from your campaign. This is especially beneficial if specific keywords are bringing in low-quality traffic for your products.

To do this, simply login to your Google Ads account, click on your campaign, and then select the “Keywords” tab. In this section, you can add any keywords that you want to remove from the campaign.

Keyword

Not sure which keywords to exclude? Simply click on the “Search Terms” button.

Search Terms

From here, you have the ability to see and analyze all query terms people have inputted into Google to come across your products. See which keywords are ineffective and not bringing in any sales, and banish them from the equation.

Measuring the performance of your Google Shopping Ads

When you first start out with Google Shopping Ads, there are going to be teething problems. That’s perfectly understandable! So even if your initial campaign doesn’t set the world on fire, you know there’s ample room for improvement.

To measure the performance of your ads, it’s important to look at the CTR, conversion stats, and how much each click costs. If the advertising campaign is currently costing you more money than the revenue generated, you will have to analyze which area requires improvement. Are you generating a lot of clicks, but failing to turn visitors into buyers? Perhaps your conversion rate is high, but not enough people see your ads? Ultimately, it’s all about fine-tuning and getting the balance right with your marketing budget.

For further insight into what is possible with your campaign, compare how your ads are performing against the competition. This can be done easily by going to Google Ads and viewing the “Competitive Metrics” columns. See what type of results the competition is producing, and you will have a greater understanding of how your campaign is doing – whether good or bad.

Conclusion

If you run any type of online retail store, make no mistake: Google Shopping Ads can massively benefit your business.

For these types of ads to be successful, you have to be prepared to go through a stage of trial and error. Then even when you think you have everything under control, certain changes in the market may require you to change your approach.

Yet if you’re prepared to put in the work – and follow the guide above – you can start landing on the top of search engine results, have more people see your products than ever before, and generate the sales numbers to take your e-commerce store to the next level.