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Feb 11, 2013

Do you understand Google Shopping?

Google Shopping Bundle image (1)
With just two days until the transition to Google Shopping begins around the world, many retailers are still unprepared for this drastic change. Many others have overlooked this update until after the Christmas and January rush and are only now considering the impact on their business. If your business is reliant on Google Product Search campaigns for traffic, you need to begin ramping up your Google Shopping presence as soon as possible in order to maintain your momentum.

So what is Google Shopping and how will this impact your business? In layman terms, Google Shopping is a new, paid advertising format from Google. This advertising format will be highly visual and focused on improving the customer experience. This format was rolled out in the US in 2012 and will now begin transition in the UK, Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Spain, Brazil and the Netherlands.

The reason this change is so important for retailers is that Google Product Search traffic will soon fade away and that in the near future all Google Shopping traffic will be paid. Also, for many retailers this change of format means action is required in order to participate.

You will begin to notice a shift in traffic in the coming days, so an understanding of your campaigns and this program is vital. We’ve compiled a description of the core elements of Google Shopping along with advice to help you get started.

Capture2Product Listing Ads

Google Shopping is driven by Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which are visually compelling product advertisements that include product information such as image, title, price and merchant name. A Product Listing Ad is a unique ad format that Google offers to promote specific items alongside text ads on Google search results pages. PLAs are displayed when Google matches a search query to information in a retailer’s product data feed. This ad type is typically priced on a cost-per-click (CPC) bidding model, where you are charged based on the number of clicks your advertisement receives.

The Product Listing Ad format works on “product targeting” technology, meaning that once you have submitted your product data feeds Google accesses that data and matches search queries to the most relevant products. Which products are shown in the PLA is Google’s decision and ranked on CPC and other factors familiar to search auctions like quality score and click-through rate. Google pulls the image URL from your feed in order to display a product image along with the product title and any optional promotional text that you enter.


A product data feed is a list of individual products that includes product details such as name, price, product page URL, product image URL, description, category and more. PLA success starts with product data feeds that are accurate, comprehensive and delivered frequently. Take a look at the quality of your data; are all relevant fields present, is it accurate and up-to-date? By optimising your content you will ensure that the data available to Google contains all the relevant information for a Product Listing Ad.


Targets, or product groupings, identify which products from data feeds will trigger Product Listing Ads for related searches. Target fields allow you to group products together based on characteristics such as “sale.” This grouping action enables you to control bids across multiple products based on set qualifications, (e.g. all products characterised as “sale” should receive a bid of 75 pence). Since bids are controlled based on these targets, be sure to have a reliable bidding strategy in place.


Promotions refer to the optional ad copy, such as “free delivery,” that can be attached to Product Listing Ads. While PLAs already offer more product information than regular text-based ads, adding this additional text can help differentiate your ads from competitive offerings. It is crucial to strategically create targets since promotional text is attached to all products within a target.


Visibility into PLA performance is essential for retailers to obtain a return on their investment. By reviewing your campaign performance you should go back to your feeds and make necessary adjustments to further optimise their data for better visibility within Google Shopping.


12 Tips for Google Shopping Success cover
We’ll be updating this blog with helpful advice and strategies as this transition takes place, or if you’d like to learn more about Google Shopping you can download our Top 12 Tips to Google Shopping Success tip sheet.


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