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Google Shopping: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet3 min read

3 min read

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Google Shopping Product Listing Ads (PLAs), simply referred to as Google Shopping Ads, saw tremendous growth and notable spend increase in 2014. According to Adobe’s 2014 Q4 Global Digital Advertising Report, Google Shopping ad spend increased by 47% YOY and outperformed text ads by almost 8x during the holiday season. With numbers like that, this is a tool that cannot be ignored.

E-commerce isn’t slowing down anytime soon, and the team at Croud Australia has been moving full-speed ahead with Google Shopping ads. To help you understand the basics of this platform and its benefits, our Search Manager, Kevin McAuley, has broken it down so simple laymen like the rest of us can understand.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is an advertising solution that allows retailers a fast and easy way to get their products onto Google and in front of the consumers who are looking to purchase them.

How does it work?

In simple terms, advertisers create lists of all the products they would like to sell on Google.

This list includes:

  • Product name
  • Brand
  • Pictures of the items
  • Prices
  • Product information, such as size, colour, or SKU number

The tech name we give to this list is a “data feed”. A simplified version for an online store that sells football boots may look something like the sample table below.

Google Shopping Grid






With the information in the data feed, Google can create a specific type of ad that shows up when users search for your product. This ad will show the picture of your product, your price, and any specific promotional messaging that you have included, like this:

Google Shopping example


What’s the difference between Google Shopping and standard search ads?

The biggest difference between the two is that traditional search campaigns ads are displayed based on keywords that are selected by the advertiser, but Google Shopping campaigns do not use keywords. Instead, advertisers upload their product feed, set their bids, and Google does the rest.

With AdWords campaigns, there is a massive emphasis on evaluating which keywords perform, so if you can’t do that with a Google Shopping campaign, how do you optimise performance to increase sales and return on investment?

  1. Create a high-quality, information-rich data feed
  2. Master smart bid optimisation (or call Croud – we have it down)

Other factors will influence a consumer’s purchasing decision, such as price, policies, customer ratings, and brand loyalty, but as far as PLAs are concerned, there are the two big hitters.

Perfecting data feed quality

Setting up your data feed the right way is the key to a successful Google Shopping campaign, and a topic we will cover in detail in a future post. For now, it is important to note that quality input equals quality output. To that end, time, attention, and care should be spent structuring the data feed in the best possible way.

Learn more about how to effectively manage your data feed in our interview with Feed Optimise Founder, Marcin Rosinski.

Smart Bid Management

Google Shopping campaigns are certainly not “set and forget”. Once you have constructed a robust data feed and have set up your campaigns in Google AdWords, you still have a lot to do. Smart PPC Managers will look carefully to see which of the products and categories are delivering the highest ROI, and will adjust bids based on conversion rates and product margins. The best, however, will look at a number of other factors affecting campaign performance, such as date and time, location, and device, and will adjust bids accordingly.

Never fear, Croud is here!

We know this sounds complicated, but fear not! We’ll delve into in a lot more detail on this topic in future Google Shopping posts. In the meantime, if you’re interested in running Google Shopping campaigns, feel free to give us a bell.