Google Shopping extensions, much like search ad extensions, are a great way to enhance ads and stand out from the competition, making your Google Shopping ads that little bit more impactful. This also includes using annotations and labels, which are types of Shopping ad extensions.
Work your way through this checklist and discover all of the extensions, annotations and labels available to Google Shopping advertisers. Find out who they are best suited to and best practices for when you use them.
- Google Shopping ad extensions make up part of a shopping ad and provide users with additional information, key to showcasing USPs and encouraging conversions
- As well as boosting CTR, Google Shopping ad extensions, annotations and labels can help boost ad rank, by improving expected CTR and ad relevance
- Use a mix of Google Shopping extensions, annotations and labels that are relevant to your business, ensuring those that you use display accurate information
- Distinguish between manual extensions and those that are created automatically, taking steps to provide Google with everything needed for the automated extensions to run
What are Google Shopping Ad Extensions?
Google Shopping ad extensions are extra ad components that can show alongside Google Shopping Ads, providing searchers with additional information. The extensions can be linked to individual products, such as sale prices, price drops or product reviews, or they can be more general, such as shipping and return policies.
Ad extensions boost click-through rate (CTR) and are therefore able to generate an increase in traffic, which can lead to higher sales and revenue from your spend. This makes them great for optimizing your Shopping campaigns and providing the best possible shopping experience for users.
Using them is fundamental if you want your Google Shopping ads to be more prominent, gain a competitive edge and boost Shopping performance.
How Google Shopping Ad Extensions Impact Ad Rank
As well as boosting CTR, Google Shopping ad extensions, annotations and labels can be advantageous when it comes to ad rank. Another reason why including them is a good idea is if you want to get the most out of Google Shopping.
While there are numerous factors that go into calculating Ad Rank, the main factor that ad extensions can impact is your auction-time ad quality, which includes expected CTR and ad relevance.
The more ad extensions you use, providing they are accurate and relevant, the higher the ad quality and the more Google’s algorithm has to use from an optimization perspective. These factors benefit Ad Rank.
How Google Shopping Extensions Interact with Each other
As with search ad extensions, Google decides when shopping extensions and annotations are displayed alongside shopping ads and advertisers have no control over this. This makes Shopping extensions unique and unlike other elements of Google Shopping, which advertisers do have control over, such as campaign structure and setting bidding strategies.
This means it’s important for advertisers to use as many relevant extensions as possible, which are accurate and up-to-date, arming Google with more to use as part of your Shopping ads.
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Checklist: 7 Google Shopping Ad Extensions, Annotations and Labels
We know they are beneficial and advertisers should strive to use as many relevant ad extensions, annotations and labels as possible. Use the following checklist to understand what each of them are, who should use them and best practices when using them.
1: Google Merchant Promotions
Google Shopping promotion extensions allow advertisers to showcase special offers and discounts when serving Google Shopping ads. The promotions are displayed alongside product listings and they can highlight attractive deals for users who are searching.
Google Merchant Promotions are a valuable tool for Google Shopping businesses who are competing with other retailers selling the same or similar products because special offers are a great way to distinguish your products from other advertisers.
Who should use Google Merchant Promotions?
Retailers that run any sort of special offer or promotion should use Google Shopping promotion extensions to get as many eyes on the promotion as possible. In the Google Merchant Centre, under the Marketing section head over to ‘Promotions’ and choose between the following four types of promotions:
It’s possible to set a promotion for all products or individual products and you have the option to use a promo code. You can also set start and end dates for the promotion, making them an easy-to-manage solution.
Google Merchant Promotions Best Practice
Use clear and attractive offers for your potential customers and ensure all of the information in the promotion is up to date. It’s better to use Google Merchant Promotions in this way so that user experience isn’t compromised and so promotions match the details on your landing page. This is especially important to comply with Google’s policies and guidelines.
Experiment with different types of promotions, whether it’s free delivery, buy one get one free or a percentage off the product price, to determine what works best for you. It’s about finding that balance between what resonates best with your audience and helping to reach sales objectives.
Set up multiple Merchant Center Promotions automatically with DataFeedWatch
Once a Google Shopping channel has been added to your DataFeedWatch account, the option to add a promotions feed is activated. Like a regular product feed, a promotions feed can contain multiple promotions.
Here are the fields that should be included in a promotions feed:
- Promotion_id: the unique ID of the promotion.
- Product_applicability: this attribute indicates if the promotion is applicable to all products or specific products.
- Offer_type: Indicate whether or not a promo code is required in order to redeem the offer, or whether it’s available without a code.
- Long_title: the title of the promotion, which has a maximum length of 60 characters. The long title needs to be accurate and describe the promotion fully.
- Promotion-effective_dates: these are the dates and time frame for when the promotion is active.
- Redemption_channel: Indicates that the promotion is valid online.
The feed will then become available as a URL, as with a product feed and this promotion feed URL can later be used in GMC.
Add the feed to Google Merchant Center by navigating to Marketing, selecting promotions and then clicking the plus button.
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2: Product Ratings and Reviews Extensions
The review extension is a star rating out of 5 stars. Showing consumers your star rating is a favorite among advertisers because once reviews have started to be collected, it’s easy to set up and it comes with a whole host of benefits. It’s an effective way to stand out from the competition and it gives stores credibility and trustworthiness.
Use the following URL to find out if your business (or any business in fact) has a seller rating for a specific country. Edit the following URL to replace "www.example.com" with a homepage URL:
Who should use Product Ratings and Reviews?
Product ratings and review extensions are relevant to almost all retailers that sell products and collect product reviews from their customers. They are completely free and Google will automatically gather the seller ratings from various reputable sources, such as Google Reviews, TrustPilot, Reviews.io, Feefo, etc.
Google calibrates ratings and then this extension automatically appears without any further action needed from advertisers, making it an easy extension to manage.
Product Ratings and Reviews Best Practice
In order to use product ratings and reviews, businesses need to collect a minimum number of unique reviews for the country they are advertising in and this varies for each business. However, the minimum number of reviews is generally around 100 or more within the last 12 months, which will then enable Google to calculate a seller rating score.
Google gathers product reviews and ratings for your store automatically, so it’s important your store name and registered domain match the information in your Google Merchant Center account and also in third-party seller rating sites, such as TrustPilot.
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3: Sale Price Annotations
Promote your products and showcase sales as a way to draw attention to your ads and boost conversion rate. Sale Price Annotations help your ads stand out and show users searching for products how much they’ll save if they purchase with you.
The example below highlights that the product is on sale with an annotation over the product image and by showing the sale price as well as the original price with a line striking through it. Price-sensitive consumers and those looking for a deal may find this appealing and be motivated by it.
Product images are a really important component of shopping ads, so using badges over images is a prominent tactic used by Google. Here are 7 rules to abide by with your Google Shopping images.
Who should use Sale Price Annotations?
Sale Price Annotations are for advertisers who are planning on running a sale and discounting products. It’s a very effective Google Shopping annotation for highlighting your sale and showing searchers the added value when purchasing with you.
The original price for products in your feed will be using the required price [price] attribute. For products that are part of a sale, you have the option to submit the sale price using the [sale_price] attribute.
Sale Price Annotations Best Practice
Several requirements must be followed by advertisers to use the Sale Price Annotation to prevent advertisers from misleading consumers and to use Google Shopping annotations correctly.
- The original price of the product must have been charged previously for a minimum of 30 days in the last 200 days. This doesn’t have to have been consecutive, however it’s to show that the product is in fact on sale.
- The sale price must be lower than the original base price and the original price must be valid. This prevents advertisers from setting an inflated base price and then discounting that inflated price, which would be misleading to consumers.
- The amount that has been discounted in the sale must be more than 5% and less than 90%. For example, if the base price was £100, the sale price would have to be in the region of £95 and £10.
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4: Price Drop Annotation
The Google Shopping Price Drop Annotation displays a new product price next to the original product price and also shows a ‘Price Drop’ badge at the top of a Shopping ad. It’s an automatic Google Shopping annotation that can appear when Google detects a lower price based on the historical average price of the product.
Who should use Price Drop Annotations?
Price drop annotation is similar to the sale price annotation, however, it should be used under slightly different circumstances. This annotation is for retailers who have lowered the regular price of a product on their landing page, which is different from running a sale and discounting a product for a shorter period.
Google automatically decides when to show this annotation, meaning no changes to a product feed or Google Merchant Center are required to show this badge.
Price Drop Annotation Best Practice
Price Drop Annotation could be used as part of a pricing strategy for retailers selling the same products as competitors. Lowering the regular price of a product is attractive for consumers who are price-sensitive and the benefit of the price drop badge is that it can make your ad stand out from the competition.
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5: Shipping Labels
It’s common to see shipping information within a Google Shopping ad, highlighting to users the shipping policy for each merchant. It’s useful for consumers to know and will help them when considering a purchase. It’s also another way businesses can stay competitive by offering attractive shipping costs.
Shipping labels can be set up in Google Merchant Centre and the costs that are submitted must match the cost of shipping charged on the website.
Who should use Shipping Labels?
You may charge a standard shipping fee of $5.99 on all orders, however, there may be instances where you would like to charge a different shipping fee or offer free shipping. Perhaps high-value products are free to deliver, or large items that require a special service require a higher shipping cost.
In these instances, there are a number of label attributes that can be used:
- For extra-large products use the “Oversized” shipping label
- For products that are perishable use the “Perishable” label
- For products that are free to deliver use the “Free Shipping” label
It’s important to assign the correct label to each product and as mentioned, the shipping cost must match what is displayed on the website.
Shipping Labels Best Practice
If you are not able to match the exact shipping cost displayed on your website, it’s important that this figure is overestimated when it’s being submitted to the Merchant Center.
Another best practice when using Shipping Labels is to confirm which method is being used, whether it’s API, manual setup, or a third-party platform, to calculate shipping costs. This is because some methods overwrite others.
For example, using an automated API to update shipping labels or using a third-party platform will take precedence over any manual settings that have been created in the merchant center account. As well as that, product-level shipping settings take precedence over Google Merchant Centre account-level settings.
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6: Returns Policy
A returns policy is an effective Shopping extension and something that can help you stay ahead of the competition. Promote your returns policy so consumers know how long they have to reconsider their purchase after they have converted.
Who should use the Returns Policy?
Retailers who offer a returns policy that is either standard for their industry or better than the standard should use this Google Shopping extension. It’s helpful for consumers who are in the consideration phase of the buying process and it could help increase CTR and encourage users to convert.
Retailers with a shorter-than-average return policy for their industry should reconsider using this extension because it may look less attractive compared to competitors. If this is you, instead rely on ad extensions, annotations and labels that are attractive for consumers and competitive.
Return Policy Best Practice
Use your return policy to differentiate from your competitors who are selling the same products as you, as a strategy to beat the competition. This is especially important for consumer goods in the fashion and accessory sector because these products will often need to be tried on.
Offering an extended return period could provide consumers with added peace of mind, as seen below with Ray Ban offering UK customers a 45-day return window. This is something that their competitor Optical Center is not able to offer. Optical Centre’s return policy is 14 days, meaning Ray Ban can use their return policy as a USP and shout about it.
If you are unable to offer an attractive return window in terms of time, perhaps you can offer ‘Free Returns’ instead, which will mean you are still benefiting from using this extension even if your return window is shorter than key competitors.
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7: Google Local Inventory Ads
A really effective way to target users with Google Shopping location ads who are local and planning their shopping trips is by using Local Inventory Ads. They can provide shoppers with real-time information about in-store inventory, product availability and price, store opening hours and directions to your stores.
Consumer behavior has changed and mobile devices, such as smartphones, now play a vital role in shopping, with consumers searching for what they need whilst they are out shopping, or by planning their shopping trips and purchases at home before venturing out. This makes Local Inventory Ads great for facilitating research and providing prospects with handy information.
Who should use Local Inventory Ads?
Local Inventory Ads are designed for retailers who have physical stores and target searchers in the local area. They can help facilitate purchases by moving users along the purchase funnel, especially if conversions happen offline and in-store, rather than online. If your business has physical stores and you target people local to your stores, then Local Inventory Ads are for you.
Google Local Inventory Ads Best Practice
Use an up-to-date product feed that is maintained and refreshed regularly, so that the information in the feed is accurate and reflects what’s available in store. It would be counterproductive to performance and user experience if any of the information is incorrect.
Setting up seasonal campaigns and product groups using custom labels is also best practice when running Local Inventory Ads. Not all products are going to be relevant at all times of the year, so segmenting your feed and campaigns based on seasonality will allow you to prioritize products and optimize ad spend throughout the year.
Set up Local Inventory Ads automatically using DataFeedWatch
Setting up Local Inventory Ads using DataFeedWatch is a fast and effective solution. In addition to your regular product feed, three additional feeds will need to be created:
- Business information feed - this feed will contain a list of information regarding your business locations.
- Google Local Products Feed - a local products feed will specify information about the products that are only available in-store, or both online and in-store. Here are the attributes needed for a Local Products Feed:
- Google Local Product Inventory Feed - Finally, it’s important to include information about stock, product availability and product price for each physical location.
The feeds will then be matched by Google automatically using the ‘item id’ attribute. In order for this to work, store codes and product identifiers need to be consistent across all feeds.
Finally, ensuring all of these feeds are updated on a regular basis is a requirement by Google and it will also help performance. As often as possible is the best approach, however here’s some guidance on how often each of the feeds should be updated:
- Local products feed - a minimum of once a week
- Local product inventory feed - a minimum of once a day
- Products feed - a minimum of once every 30 days
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Shopping ad extensions are specifically designed for Google Shopping merchants and they differ from Search ad extensions, which are now known as ad assets. However, they have the same purpose and work in the same way.
Shopping extensions provide searchers with valuable and useful information, make ads more appealing, enhance the appearance of Shopping ads and help businesses stand out from the competition.
Another way to enhance your Google Shopping ads is by optimizing each of the ad components for the ad. Read our guide to 10 Google Shopping ad elements to optimize for better results.