What is Google Shopping? An Easy-to-Digest Explanation

By Google Shopping Team
TOPICSGoogle, Product Ads

If you are an ecommerce store and want to capture your ideal customers on the largest search engine, Google Shopping should be right up your alley and a cornerstone of your pay-per-click and overall marketing efforts.

Google Shopping is a direct and effective way to get your products in front of a larger audience through Product Listing Ads or PLAs for short – these are Google ad format that appears on the search engine results page either above or to the side of organic and paid text ads and snippets.

At its core, Google Shopping is a comparison shopping engine (CSE), where online shoppers can search for products that match what they’re looking for while giving them the added benefit of being able to compare prices and brands, as well as discover new products. Sellers have the opportunity to display attention-grabbing images and product descriptions through PLAs.

Let’s say you’re an online retailer for women’s clothing with a brick-and-mortar location in New York City. You want to get your trendy clothes in front of a broader audience across the country. You use general text ads for brand awareness, but you really want to highlight your new dress collection.

With Google Shopping, you can display your clothing line in all its glory, with product images, prices and a brief product description right in the search results.


What is the Google Merchant Center?

Merchant Center is where your Google Shopping activities are overseen; it acts as the data hub of your AdWords account. It’s the tool where you link your AdWords account and input your product data, URL information, tax and shipping settings, among other things. Google links all of this information to your AdWords account, Google Shopping campaigns and other Google services.

How does Google Shopping Work?

You might be asking yourself, how does Google access all of my product information and know what to display? Google gathers your product information through a product feed, or in other words, a data-only version of your product catalog. Your feed needs to include certain specifications, which Google highlights in its Product Feed Specification outline, with apparel products requiring brand as a unique product identifier and variant information.

How do You Set Up Google Shopping Ads?

To put your PLAs in action, you have to create a few settings and decide what products you want to target. You just need to decide on a budget, bidding strategy, and target location to get things in motion.

Going back to the trendy clothing retailer example, you want exposure for your entire product catalog with emphasis on your dress collection.

If you create an “All Products” campaign with a low priority and bids to start, this will target your entire product catalog. Meaning that all of your products will be targeted through this campaign and will have the same bid, unless segmented otherwise.

Then, by creating another campaign that targets your dress collection at a higher priority and higher bid, you can provide emphasis on your new trendy dresses. This trendy dress campaign will outweigh the “All Products” campaign due to the higher priority, which allows you to bid more competitively at a more granular level.

Let these campaigns garner data over a couple weeks and either create more campaigns to target more products in your catalog — perhaps that new shoe collection for the spring, or segment out the campaigns and bid more specifically.

Have a good mobile experience with a strong conversions rate? Add a positive mobile multiplier. New York City area converts at a high rate? Incorporate a positive location group multiplier on that. Conversion rates noticeably lower after midnight, but pick back up in the morning? Include an ad schedule and throw a negative multiplier there.

The levers to pull and tools to manage your Google Shopping campaigns are seemingly endless. It’s easy to get your ecommerce store on Google Shopping, but by enlisting the help of a savvy PPC management service, they should be able to structure your campaigns where you most directly target key audiences and focus on user searches that have the best chance to convert. This can ultimately yield the highest possible return on your investment.

What are Benefits of Google Shopping?

With the implementation of some simple conversion tracking codes, your Google Shopping efforts should be extremely measurable. Down to the penny, you can determine how much your online store is making through PLAs. You can even determine which product type, brand and individual item in your catalog has the highest performance. As a retailer, that information can be quite helpful!

For example, the trendy women’s clothing store is selling maxi dresses off the charts through Google Shopping — let’s say, the high number of conversions per day is at more than a 25% conversion rate. The store then decides to increase their inventory for their brick-and-mortar location in NYC to prep for the trend in maxi dresses!

PLAs can generate many clicks, and for an increasing number of our clients, the click and sales volume has exceeded that of traditional text ads, and in some cases, more than the organic clicks. A Google Shopping presence is really no longer a supplemental traffic source, but an essential one and can help give your products the desired exposure they deserve.

What’s the Difference between Shopping and Text Ads?

According to a July 2014 eMarketer study, 69% of marketers find PLAs more effective than traditional paid search ads. PLAs match relevant user search queries to your products based on their title and description, which provides visibility to products in just about every Google search.

With text ads, you bid on the keyword and with PLAs, you bid on the product itself. While popular and competitive keywords can be quite expensive, text ads can get pricey, especially if you want to show up for those terms. The cost-per-click (CPC) for text ads thus is typically higher than for PLAs.

While text ads are extremely important and relevant, adding PLAs on top of that provides more real estate on Google search pages. Getting involved in both areas helps to display more of what you offer, from branding to individual products, in every search.

We Can Help You Get Started with Google Shopping!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your PLAs or would like some assistance in the initial setup phase, the Google Shopping team at Exclusive Concepts is here to help. We can analyze your current accounts or provide insight to your Shopping potential and bring your Shopping campaigns to the next level. Please reach out to us to see if there is more you can be doing to maximize this crucial pipeline to new online customers.