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50%+ of a retailer’s budget is now spent on Google Shopping. How can ecommerce advertisers ensure that money is well spent? Or know that they’re driving sales on a large scale? Here’s how to master the Google Shopping feed, easily and at scale.
What’s the one platform you can use to list ads and get loads of impressions and clicks from users throughout the funnel? Google Shopping is a unique advertising powerhouse. It can reach just about any kind of user. It’s not about one single social platform, industry, or site. Desktop or mobile, branded or unbranded, whatever the demographic, Google reaches shoppers at all stages of the funnel. Whether you’re selling t-shirts, family trips, or used cars – even if you’re selling products at brick-and-mortar locations – Google Shopping ads can help. Plus, Google offers the analytics tools that makes managing campaigns (and quantifying returns) easy.
In order to list products on Google Shopping, you’ll first need to compile a Google Shopping feed and upload it to Google. That feed needs to follow Google’s unique requirements and also be fully optimized for Google users.
Let’s start with the feed, and then move on to campaigns and ROI.
There’s a lot to cover, so save / bookmark / ritualistically print and bind this guide as needed!
Google Shopping ads are perhaps most known for appearing in the organic SERP listing of Google searches. They can be served in branded, unbranded, or even local searches. They also appear in Google Shopping and on Google Search Partner websites like YouTube.
In the past, they have been called product ads, Google Product ads, Google Product Listing ads, Google PLAs, and… that’s mostly it.
Google Shopping ads will require the use of two separate tools: Google Merchant Center and Google Ads (previously known as AdWords).
|Google Merchant Center||Google Ads (AdWords)|
|Manage product data||Manage ads, campaigns, and bidding|
What is Google Merchant Center?
Google Merchant Center is Google’s platform for managing your Shopping product data. Product information (including product titles, images, links, and everything else) is kept here. There isn’t much work to do on this side, as you’ll be optimizing your Google data feeds before uploading them to the Merchant Center. The data uploaded here will be leveraged to automatically generate Shopping ads – no extra writing required.
What is Google Ads?
Google Ads (once known as AdWords and changed recently for branding purposes) will be used for the campaign side of your Google Shopping ads. This is where you’ll make decisions on bidding, audiences, and other common campaign steps.
To get started, first sign in to your Google Ads. Next, connect your Google Merchant Center account. In your settings, go to Set Up and Linked Accounts.
|What is product data?|
In ecommerce, “product data“ or “product content“ includes all the details of a company’s products. This lists everything from product titles and descriptions to image URLs, GTINs, and more. Product data need not reflect just physical products like shoes and cars. It can also include flights, jobs, or any other “products.”
Google ads are perhaps most well known for appearing in the SERP. When a user googles an item, the related product ads can appear either above the search results as images or to the side, separate from the text ads.
They can also appear in Google Shopping, in participating countries, and in Google Search Partner websites like YouTube.
For Google, the fundamental differences between retail and travel ads are when and where they appear. Retail Google Shopping ads appear at the top of SERP results or in the network. Google Hotel ads surface when a user is specifically looking for hotels. These ads appear in the SERP.
According to Google, 60% of leisure travelers and 55% of business travelers use the search engine when planning their trips. This means Google plays a very unique, and powerful role in the travel ecommerce space. Learn more about Google Hotel ads here.
While Google Shopping makes it very easy to generate and deliver personalized ads, it does require one little thing to get started: a Google-tailored product data feed.
What is a Google Shopping Feed?
A Google Shopping Feed is simply a product data feed tailored for Google. This is a business’s complete list of products, including numerous required and optional information like title, GTIN, related image URLs, and more
How do I create a Google Shopping feed?
If you’re a small retailer, you may adapt and enhance your feed using Excel. However, if you’re a larger business or have complex feeds, you’ll likely need to use software like Productsup in order to make bulk edits and maintain clear, reliable oversight of your many products. Solutions like this exist to help with Google Shopping feed automation and optimization.
To set up a Merchant Center account, check out the video below.
There are certain specifications that every product must have in order to be eligible on Google. There are also further required attributes for certain categories of items, particularly those in apparel & accessories. Be sure every product in your feed includes all Google Shopping required fields.
|Required attributes for Google Shopping feeds|
|ID||Identifier string of the item|
|title||Title of item|
|description||Description of the item|
|google_product_category||Google’s categorization of an item. Read more here.|
|link||URL directly linking to your item’s page on your website|
|image_link||URL of desired image of an item.|
|condition||Condition or state of the item|
|price||Price of the item.|
|availability||Availability status of the item.|
|brand, GTIN, MPN||Item’s brand; Global Trade Item Number of the item; and Manufacturer Part Number of the item. Required if exists.|
|shipping||Specific shipping estimate of the product|
Be sure to check your feed for the most common errors. These include: overlong titles, incorrect pricing formats, unnecessary capitalization, and mismatched data.
You can create campaigns in either Ads or Merchant Center. In Google Merchant Center, you need only go to the Ads tab and click Create Shopping Campaign. From here, enter a campaign name, country of sale, and budget. Though the Merchant Center is the faster method, the real work will happen in Google Ads.
To start within Ads, just click + Campaign and then select Shopping. Here you can determine bidding, budget, locations, and other usual campaign settings.
It’s important to note that, especially for Google, not just any image will do. Be absolutely certain to follow their ad image requirements.
*For apparel products, minimum is 250 x 250 pixels
|Google Shopping ad image rules|
|Don’t scale up images||Don’t submit thumbnails||No graphics or illustrations|
|Only use photos of the actual product||Don’t use borders||No promotional text|
|Only show one product per image||No watermarks or logos||Use gorgeous images|
These strict rules are in place to ensure high quality and reliability among all of Google’s advertisers. Because the platform boasts such an incredible reach, it’s important to Google that ad images are clean and consistent. Never mess with these rules. Just take gorgeous, realistic photos, and let your products do the advertising.
Image quality matters. Users don’t click on an ad just because the title sounded cool. It was the image that compelled them to look, read, and then click. High-quality images are an absolute requirement for Google Shopping ads.
You’ll need to choose between two ad formats before you can launch your Google Shopping campaign.
Product Shopping Ads feature just one product per ad. This is most useful when users are searching for more specific items.
Showcase Shopping Ads, on the other hand, are served using several images. Featuring numerous images or products can bring in users who aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for. For example, when a user searches for a vague term like “picture frame,” Google will likely show a Showcase Shopping ad featuring several different products.
Local Inventory Ads let local retailers reach customers that are in the geographical area. When a user searches for a product that’s in your store, that brick-and-mortar location can show up in SERP results. Users who click on these ads will land on a unique page called the Local Storefront, that includes not only price and product details but also the exact location.
There may only be three options for your Google shopping placements, but the differences are huge. In Ads, you’ll be able to choose from:
Google Shopping ads set to surface in search appear as a promotion in the SERP (search) listing. On the other hand, ecommerce marketers can also place their ads on the Google Display Network, a group of over 2 million websites, videos, and apps.
Google’s Display Network sites reach 90%+ of internet users around the globe.
In most countries, the following demographics can be targeted.
Beyond this, there’s also the option to use Audience Targeting, which you may have known in the past as “interests and remarketing.” Now, the Audiences section appears right in the page menu. Simply select the pencil icon to start updating your desired audience. There are three key ways to break down Audience’s targeting capabilities:
There are a few options when it comes to bidding and delivery of your Google Shopping ads. They should seem familiar to most marketers.
Maximum CPC is the manual bidding method, where an advertiser will manually set the highest amount they’re willing to bid per click. Then there’s Enhanced CPC (ECPC), Google’s way of using automation to find the best possible audiences and help you get the most bang for your buck.
Automated bidding (ECPC) is a great time saver and can be set up to achieve a number of different targets or, as Google terms them, “goals.”
On top of this, there’s also “standard” and “accelerated” delivery. Standard simply means that Google will plan to distribute ads and ad dollars across the entire day. Accelerated, instead, rapidly sends out ads to use up the entire budget. This means that more will be spent faster in order to place ads in the most desirable (and clickable) spots.
This Google tool tracks what happens after a user has taken a specific, pre-defined “conversion action.” This could be clicking an ad, subscribing to your newsletter, making purchases in your app, or something similar. You can define Conversion Actions within Google Ads.
To determine whether your site needs Conversion Tracking enabled, answer these two short questions: will you be using enhanced CPC? Would you like to be analyzing user behavior after they engage with your ads? If the answer to either of these is yes, enable the Conversion Tracking tool sooner rather than later.
This process will involve installing the tag on your website or using Google Tag Manager. It’s very specific, so please check out the complete instructions here
There are numerous ways to make a product feed stronger. These are some of the most important best practices to optimize your Google shopping feed for more clicks and sales (and lower costs).
Always start with the optional attributes. There’s a huge number of possible attributes that can be added a feed. It’s recommended to add as many of these as possible. For the complete list of these, you should check out our guide to Google Shopping feeds below.
This is an attribute that can help segment products however marketers see fit. There can be up to five custom labels in a feed at a time. Each group can have up to 1,000 unique values. Once these labels are added to the feed, use Ads to change the associated actions and bids for each label. This is not only one of the most popular attributes for driving better returns, it’s also one of the most practical.
For example, here are some possible combinations. You can also get 5 of the most popular Custom label strategies here.
A product title shouldn’t just be a jumble of keywords or product information. Titles should be crafted with care – and research. Try to make the product seem tangible and meaningful for the user.
A strong, clickable title could include one or more of the data points below:
The Manufacturer Center was designed to help marketers in brand manufacturing firms leverage how their brand and products are presented across the Google ecosystem.
|Google Manufacturer Center||Google Merchant Center|
|For brand manufacturers||For brand manufacturers and retailers|
Specifically, the tool allows brands to add product data in order to help make product catalogs fully complete. Brands can also monitor and better influence the way their product appears in organic listings.
Uses for the Google Manufacturer Center:
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