Google Shopping – Beginner’s Guide to Advertising in 2019


Google shopping ads are designed for e-commerce sellers and help them show their products across multiple Google properties: Search, Maps, YouTube and Display. In today’s article I will dig into the Google Shopping and demystify its capabilities.

The classical Google Product Shopping ads can be seen above the search results in search queries about products.  They consist of an image, a title and a price. There are some new formats, which I am going to cover in more detail, but these are the typical ads. To advertise there, you must have two things in place: a live ad in a Google Ads and a product feed in Google Merchant Center.

What is Google Merchant Center

Advertisers might find it surprising they have to upload their product information in Google tool to launch their product ads. Google Merchant Center is a tool to bring in all the product information necessary to run product shopping ads in one place. Advertisers are required to create a product feed – essentially a spreadsheet of all products they offer in all their variations. This feed may vary from couple of rows to millions of products in different colours and sizes. Creating a good product feed has been one of the trickiest parts of successful Google Shopping campaigns. To start with you need to have an attribute(your unique product identifier – this can be a number or combination of letters which help you track products internally), a title, a description, landing page and a link to an image.

Larger advertisers with a lot of products are advised to use the Google Content API for Shopping, which allows them to build a software which directly interacts with Google Merchant Center. This allows automated account management, product management and data scheduling as well as complicated tax and shipping settings.

For smaller advertisers with less technical resources Google has something called automated feeds. This is a simple way to scan your website and get the product information directly in Google Merchant Center. To be able to do this you must add structured data markup to your website. Structured data markup is a machine-readable representation of your product data directly on your site. The markup that’s added to your HTML helps Google and other search engines understand and process your content reliably.

With feed generation small details matter and you might run into some disapprovals and problems when you first upload a feed. There are a lot of set up rules which ensure sellers offer legitimate and transparent service. Clear information about return policy, correct pricing and accurate image  of the product are just some of the musts to be allowed to create an ad.

Connecting Google Ads to Google Merchant Center

The process is similar to connecting any other platform to Google Ads. You initiate the process within your Google Ads account – Tools => Linked Accounts => Google Merchant Center. Then you just have to log in your Google Merchant Center account and accept your own invitation. After this you are set up and ready to create your ads.

How are you charged?

Google Shopping Product ads work similar to Google Search – advertisers are charged per click. Products are ranked by a combination of  relevancy to the search query and bid. Most importantly – there is no fee on transactions. Compared to Amazon Ads where advertisers are charged by click and on any transaction, sales on Google Shopping happen on the advertiser’s landing page. This is why it extremely important to have a fast and well designed page which allows users to purchase online quickly.

Local Inventory Ads

Research shows that users often search online for products they can buy locally in person. Local Inventory Ads is a Google Shopping format which helps in-store visits by advertising online. What you need to do is create and verify a Google My Business location of your store and link it to your Google Ads account. Google My Business is a free business profile which shows your store on Google Maps and allows you control over pictures and other business information. You can check my article about Google My Business here.

Once you have connected Google Ads and Google My Business (the same process like the one we used for Google Ads and the Merchant Center) you will be able to create a local inventory ad by just ticking a box in the Google Product shopping ad set up. The result is a product ad which appears in the search results under Google Maps when users search for products “near me”. By clicking on the ad users will be shown the geo location of the physical store which offers the product on the ad.

Local Catalogue Ads

Once you have enabled your ads to appear as Local Inventory Ads, you can use Local Catalogue Ads to show your products also on the Google Display Network. This is a highly visual and mobile friendly format which allows dynamic featuring of your products across Google Display. You can use local catalogue ads for dynamic remarketing – showing a product which a user was watching on your website and encourage them to complete the purchase. In this case you will be charged by cost per engagement (CPE), meaning every time a user taps to a detailed product page, clicks through to the website or scrolls more than ½ of the ad width or height.

YouTube TrueView for Shopping

Since not so long YouTube advertising offers an ad format specifically for e-commerce. This is a TrueView type of video ad which means it is skippable. The difference from other TrueView YouTube formats is that the product is featured under the video with a call to action. To create this ad, you need to have a YouTube channel(it could be a channel with one video only) which you must link to your Google Ads. When you start building your campaign you must select Video as a campaign type and then select Shopping as a sub type. This is a great way to have a holistic marketing campaign across channels.  

Showcase Ads

This is another Google Shopping format which is only available since recently. When users search for more generic terms or they are just gathering ideas, Showcase Ads can be really great way to show more of your inventory. F-soppr example, when someone is searching for a mirror, you can show them all different shapes and sizes of mirrors your store offers. You are charged by CPE. Engagement is whenever someone expands your ad and spends 10 seconds within the ad or clicks a product or link in the expanded ad before then.

Shopping ads are extremely valuable for an ecommerce seller, because they show the product when users are actively searching for it. Local Inventory ads can help you reach people looking for products in the nearby local stores. With formats like Local Catalogue Ads and TrueView for Shopping you can create awareness for your products across YouTube and Google Display.

All the views in this article are exclusively mine and I am not an official spokesman of Google.

About me: I am an experienced digital marketing professional and a Googler. I have taught over 3000 people in online marketing, sales and PPC. Get my new book. I blog weekly and teach on Udemy with more than 2,700 students enrolled in my online course. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @odolena