Google Shopping Ads Basics for the Online Store Owner

Are Google Ads effective? How do I get started? What should I expect from my campaign?

These are common questions for business owners who want to get started with online advertising using Google.  Undoubtedly, Google has become the largest advertising network in the world, with over $200 billion spent in 2021.  The company offers advertisers a range of tools to reach consumers across multiple channels, including mobile apps, websites, social media platforms, and even TV.   Advertising through Google is simple and affordable.

While the three popular types of ads – text ads, display ads, and video ads are well-known, off-recently, Google Shopping Ads are proving to be a hit for online retailers and e-commerce websites.  And in this post, we’ll touch upon just that.  So, if you are an online store owner then this post is especially for you. Let’s dive in!

What are Google Shopping Ads?

Google Shopping is a service offered by Google to help the consumer shop online, allowing users to search for, compare, and shop for physical products across multiple merchants (online retailers) who pay to advertise their products. Product listings on shopping results show up on an easy-to-use interface as thumbnail images displaying each product’s retailer and price. Users click on the listing and are directed to the relevant product webpage on the merchant’s online store where they can complete their purchase.

Formerly known as Product Listing Ads or PLA, Google’s Shopping Ads function as a Comparison Shopping Engine showing shoppers available online sellers, item description, price points, and ratings for the product they are looking for.

Differences and Advantages vs Google Text Ads

We are all familiar with the ubiquitous text ads which consist of two or more headlines, descriptions, and a display URL. They’re without images, but they offer additional ad extensions, such as image extensions. It allows the advertiser to show more content, and there are more chances for them to highlight their unique selling points…. thanks to keywords that help customers find your business.

Google Shopping Ads on the other hand are the ones you see above the organic results, showing product images. They are displayed prominently at the top of the page and have a dedicated tab. Visually; they are more appealing than text ads as they display product thumbnails in a carousel format that can be scrolled. In fact, when both text and shopping ads are shown, shopping ads are featured above the text ads. For Shopping Ads you don’t have to worry about keyword research as your Ad is shown based on product information that you provide.

How to get Started with Shopping Ads?

These ads are based on products listed in what is known as a Merchant Center – a Google provided platform where online businesses manage the appearance of their ecommerce products and make changes to their online listings as needed. You can optimize your product data feed using the title, description, and other fields to influence who sees your ad. Product attributes and details indicated in Merchant Center data feeds are used to determine if your ad will be shown next to a particular result. If you want to increase the chances of someone clicking on your ad, you need to provide the most accurate information possible. 

Adding Your Products – Product Feed

The product feed is an essential tool for the online store owner wanting to set up a Shopping Campaign. It allows you to import all the necessary information about your products, including images, titles, descriptions, prices, etc., in one place. However, you need to follow certain guidelines when uploading your product data. There are several ways to create your Google Shopping Feeds. You can either use an app, extension, tool, or manually create a spreadsheet. For Shopify users, the Shopify Google Shopping App is highly recommended as it is free and easy to install.

Uploading Product Inventory and Feed – Merchant Center

After your feed is ready, you can create a Google Merchant Center account When you are done with that, you have to claim and verify your store’s domain to prove that you own it. You can do this by using Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, or adding a meta tag to your website. This may sound a bit technical however it’s a one-time effort and the steps are outlined here.

Optimizing your Product Listings

While Google Shopping Ads uses uploaded product feeds to index search results, it pulls the featured images for each product from its corresponding retail site. Hence, it is important to optimize your product images and listings on your own site before you market them on Google. Being a visually rich experience as compared to usual Search Ads, your product photos are undoubtedly the most important part of any listing, and that will determine where shoppers may click and purchase. Google knows this and will refuse to run your campaign if the product images are of low quality.

For this matter, following Google’s image guidelines such as using a white, grey, or light-colored background; clean even lighting; and closeup shots are highly recommended. Other best practices include displaying clothing on the body, adding shadows to add depth, showcasing multiple views of your product, and including real people using it. If you’re selling your products on other marketplaces, these product image specifications may be applicable and are good to master.


In a nutshell

Congratulations! if you made it this far. You should now be confident to take on the steps for implementing Google Shopping Ads.  If you are looking at how to setup and market your own online store, have a look at our eCommerce course too!

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Instructor: Azhar Katib

About the author

Azhar Katib is the founder-director of WebSell Solutions Ptd Ltd., a company specializing in online presence management for SMEs in Singapore and Malaysia.

He has a background IT and Digital Marketing for the past 25+ years. He is also a trainer for Singapore SkillsFuture Programs