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Is Google Shopping Worth It? Do Google Shopping Ads Work?

Is Google Shopping Worth It? Do Google Shopping Ads Work?

Google’s “Shopping” tab is the search giant’s well-known answer to the growing dominance of online eCommerce marketplaces.

With platforms like Amazon, Walmart and eBay providing easy-to-use eCommerce platforms for online retail, Google’s Shopping channel is a part of their search engine that let’s them get in on the marketplace game. Plus, it offers opportunities for both organically collected results, and paid ads.

But is Google shopping worth it? Do Google Shopping ads work for retailers that want to be able to expand their online revenue?

Understand Shopping as an eCommerce strategy means being able to understand how it functions as a pay-per-click marketing channel as well as potential for organic traffic. With the right techniques though this strategy is definitely worthwhile and actually offers a lot of potential. It provides a whole new opportunity to help brands be more visible – plus it means being able to sell products directly in search results. Here’s how.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a separate area of its search engine where users can search directly for products. Retailers can use Google “Shopping” campaigns to promote their site’s online inventory of products, their “local inventory” and to increase eCommerce sales.

There’s also the stand-alone Google Shopping site, where people can shop and search.

The product details appear directly in the Google search engine – under the “Shopping tab – where they are organized in a grid-like product list. The biggest difference between these product listings and regular search results is that Google shopping includes product photos, pricing, brand/manufacturer info, and product rating. Shopping results also appear sometimes at the top of regular organic search results as a sort product carousel.

Plus, the Shopping tab lets shoppers filter/sort search results by price, availability, size, brand, seller, condition, rating, and more.

In order to get products to appear in Google Shopping, brands and businesses need to import their product data into a free Merchant Center account. Shopping ads (called Product Listing Ads, or PLAs) use Merchant Center product data – not keywords – to decide how and to rank your ads even though the results are still largely based off of search terms. This means that paid-ads are run using pay-per-click style advertising (PPC) that’s run through campaigns linked to the Merchant Center. Without a paid campaign it’s still possible to have products appear in Google shopping as organic results.

Shopping results used to be available to eCommerce marketers as PPC style PLAs only – but earlier in 2020 Google announced that “organic” results would be available to businesses with product info in Merchant Center. Google Shopping is now available free to retailers worldwide.

Is Google Shopping worth it?

The short answer is yes. Shopping offers a whole new channel for retailers to sell products and is a huge opportunity for eCommerce growth.

Many businesses might find that – as shopping behavior continues to shift to the internet, and online retail becomes the new normal – that utilizing Google Shopping’s eCommerce marketplace is crucial to staying competitive.

Since 2019 alone, Google Shopping ad spend has increased by 38%. Plus, PLAs in Shopping now account for 65% of all Google ads clicks, and for as much as 85% of all retail ad clicks! This means that for eCommerce businesses in particular, Shopping ads work far better than normal text PPC ads. They are also more profitable, gaining up to 12% more revenue per click on average than normal search ads – and that’s on top of the great $2 revenue for every $1 spent that Google PPC already offers! Traffic that’s brought through paid-ads yields 50% more conversions than organic search traffic by itself.

via Adthena

An enormous 79% of marketers say that PPC ads like those on Google are hugely beneficial to their business – and it’s no wonder why, with some of the highest ROI of any strategy, up to 18% of marketers say it offers them the best returns!

Plus Google Shopping results allow some marketers to take advantage of “Shopping Actions” which can give extended eCommerce presence across other platforms like the Google Shopping mobile app, Google Assistant, and even Google home devices. As “zero click” searches become more commonplace and as voice-search becomes more normal, this will be another opportunity for eCommerce businesses using Shopping.

Google Shopping ads are worth it for eCommerce brands that operate the majority of their business online. With ROI and extra brand viability it’s this part of search that has the best potential.

The benefits of PPC on Google Shopping

So what do Shopping results get eCommerce brands and online retailers exactly? The main benefit is a whole stand-alone eCommerce marketplace that exists directly in Google’s search engine. But there are a few other big benefits that make Google Shopping ads worth it compared to traditional paid marketing strategies.

  • Greater brand visibility with greater impressions. Having your products listed directly in search results (with photos, product ratings, and branding) means more people are able to see your products.
  • Broader product visibility with the ability to have more than one PLA ad appear for a given user search. As a matter of fact, PLAs can appear in the “Shopping” tab, and they can also appear next to both regular text search ads, as well as next your site in organic search results.
  • Better qualified leads with featured product details.
  • eCommerce centric campaign management with a paid-ads system that’s built specifically for retailers.
  • Powerful reporting and competitive data with Google’s campaign management tools that let companies measure their ROI, fine-tune good campaigns, cancel low-quality audiences, and feedback what they learn into their strategy.

Is Google Shopping worth the cost?

Just like with regular search PPC and other common PPC platforms, businesses can determine their budget and have 100% of control over costs. They can choose to spend as much or as little as they want. There’s no minimum budget required, and there’s no fee/cost to creating a Merchant Center account.

However the more aggressive businesses are with their bids, the more likely they are to outperform competitors for their most valuable search terms.  

Google product shopping ads work by using a cost-per-click model (CPC), which means that they pay the “bid” only when a shopper clicks on their ad. eCommerce businesses get charged only when someone clicks an ad that leads to the landing page on their site or to the Google-hosted landing page for a product.

Showcase Shopping ads are charged using cost-per-engagement (CPE), so businesses only have to pay their “bid” amount only when shoppers view or “expand” their ad. These two types of ads give another way of controlling ad spend while also focusing on custom goals.

Better SEO results and more organic revenue

Google recently opened up their Shopping platform to also include free, organic results. Before, the only way to have products appear in Shopping was via paid PLA results using pay-per-click strategies in the Google Merchant Center.

This means you can get even more traffic for product searches!

Google’s change means that eCommerce businesses can now have their products appear in search results organically, much the same way that they’ve always used SEO for organic traffic. This feature allows people to see product results from your store on various Google surfaces, including Google Images, the Shopping tab, Google Search, and Google Lens.

There are two ways to get organic results:

  • Submit products to a Merchant Center account feed the same way as for paid-ads. Once products have been imported, and product details are provided, marketers can opt-in to free listings.
  • If you have structured data markup on your website, your products will automatically show in free listings (with the exception of the Shopping tab).

That’s all that’s needed! Here’s why organic search is so important.

As much as 53% of all internet traffic comes from organic search, and an amazing 40% of all online revenue is driven by search engines. Organic’s conversion rate is also higher with a 14.6% close rate, plus 75% of searchers won’t even go past the 1st page in search results, meaning that carousel product displays and showcase shopping ads offer a way to get better CTR but putting listings straight at the top of the page. Wolfgang Digital’s 2020 KPI report shows that organic traffic is responsible for close to 1/3rd of all eCommerce, and 31% of retail revenue – making it the 2nd single best channel for eCommerce only after the paid-ads that Google Shopping already provides.

So is Google Shopping worth it for both SEO and paid traffic? Definitely, and the potential for better eCommerce is why SEM is important for businesses to get the most out of both channels.

Faster eCommerce results

This is why paid marketing with Google is so popular. Pay-per-click ads on Google’s Shopping network can begin to drive traffic and conversion practically immediately – as soon as they go live.

Shopping ads have to be approved before they go live to searchers/shoppers – a process that usually only takes 12-24 hours. And then they’re live!

That means business can start driving sales in just a few short days.

Once an ad campaign has been set up, an audience strategy has been created, and once bidding settings have been set-up, Shopping ads will begin to appear to Google’s millions of searchers immediately and businesses can start to see eCommerce ROI practically over night.

Google Shopping ads work great for:

  • Launching new products, or a new range of products
  • During shorter time periods like holidays, seasonal events, or during products sales/promotions. Or when clearing old product inventory.
  • To generate cash-flow or sales quickly
  • To help promote brand recognition when competing against a dominant competitor.

More controllable, targeted eCommerce marketing

Paid Google Shopping ads are worth it for businesses that want to get the most bang for their buck.

Google Shopping offers tools with detailed and granular reporting so businesses can see how their ads are helping with their main KPIs, as well as to track both sales and budget.

Marketers can see performance data for individual ads, at the “ad group” level, and for their campaign as a whole with information on clicks, impressions, cost-per-click, ROAS and more. Plus, Google’s Analytics tool can also provide additional information on both organic conversions, ad results, and how traffic moves through their website.

Smart Shopping campaigns can even test different combinations of product feeds, assets, and performance to determine what are the most relevant product ads. This means that Google Shopping ads work with campaign data automatically and will algorithmically adjust campaigns to target a business’s custom KPIs.

Your products appear in more places

A Shopping campaign can increase brand recognition as well as make a brand’s products appear in more places across Google platforms (including search). Here’s where Google shopping ads will show up:

  • The Shopping tab in the Google search engine.
  • Google search, next to normal search results (separate from text ads) and Google Images.
  • Google search partner websites (if your campaign is set to include search partners) this means websites that are part of the Google search network.
  • The Google Display Network, which includes YouTube, Gmail, and Google Discover.

How to get started with Google Shopping Ads

Getting paid PLAs in Google Shopping requires a Merchant Center account. In Merchant Center businesses have to upload product details and descriptions before they can create a paid Shopping campaign.

So is Google Shopping worth it, even with the product detail requirements? Given the potential revenue and sales opportunities, the set-up should be more than worthwhile for eCommerce sites that want to extend product listings (both paid and organic) into a rapidly growing digital marketplace. Google’s partnership with CMS platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce means it can be easier to import product listing details.

Here’s how to set-up Shopping listings:

Before setting up product listings, business will want to make sure they meet the requirements. It’s important make sure they have the right accounts, can provide accurate data specifications, and that they can provide up-to-date product data at least every 30 days – only then can they decide if Google Shopping is worth it.

Then they can follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to the correct Google Ads account.
  2. In the page menu in the left side navigation panel, click on Campaigns.
  3. Click the “+” button, then click on “New campaign.”
  4. For “Campaign type,” select Shopping and click Next.
  5. Set up advertising preferences and fill out the details of the campaign following the on-page prompts.

Here businesses will have to link their Merchant Center account, choose where they want to sell products, and then move on to campaign budget, bidding settings, daily budget, and more. Additionally, Google Shopping will provide options for displaying products on “Surfaces across Google” (this means eCommerce listings in Google image search, the main Shopping tab, Google Lens, and more).

  1. Next marketers can save their campaign settings and continue.
  2. They also can choose which type of “ad group” they want including “Product Shopping ads” and “Showcase Shopping ads.”
  3. Finish creating ad groups and save.

Learn More

Is Google Shopping worth it? Get in touch with Radd to learn about creating a Shopping ads campaign and about how the Google shopping platform can help your eCommerce business.

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