Google Shopping Vs Google Search Ads: Read this before deciding which one to choose



    Some of you might be wondering which is the best between Google Shopping and Google Search Ads.

    The short answer is, none. In fact, both campaign types can run at the same time. One doesn't exclude the other.


    Maximise Your Visibility with Google Shopping AND Google Search Ads


    Google shows up to 30 PLAs (product listing ads) on desktop and up to 15 on mobile.

    Plus, it also shows up to 7 search text ads on mobile and 7 on desktop.

    Up to 4 above organic results and up to 3 at the bottom of the SERP below organic results.

    Now, while your products can appear as PLAs more than once, only one search ad per advertiser can show up at a time. This means that you can show multiple results in Google Shopping, but only one in search.

    The interesting thing for you is that, as said, search ads can show up alongside PLAs. So, imagine your products showing up multiple times in Shopping plus once in search, at the same time. Well, you would really be the king of the SERP!


    Google Shopping


    In the image above you can see that is appearing 4 times. It has 3 PLAs and one search ad.

    Although its direct competitor is showing one PLA more, the search ad makes the advertiser's message stronger and more prominent.

    Also, search ads show more content. So they give advertisers more chances to call out potential promotions and unique sales points.

    In the case of the screenshot above, you can see that several ad extensions are showing alongside the search ad. Potential customers can see at a glance what other BBQ types the advertiser is selling and, most importantly, where.

    In fact, the ad is also showing a location extension, which gives information about the advertiser physical address, opening hours etc. This is something shopping ads can't do. As you can see there†are many reasons why you would want to advertise with both Google Shopping and Search Ads. Let's recap them:

    • Greater exposure and visibility
    • Give competitors less space on the SERP
    • Reinforce your branding message and image
    • Strengthen†your promotional message. More text to use, more content
    • Use ad extensions to add relevant†information and call out other products, promotions etc

    In order to really get the most out of Google Shopping and Search Ads combined together, we recommend†you implement Feed-Driven Text Ads. We covered the topic extensively in our previous posts.


    Learn more on How to Build Successful Search Campaigns


    Feed-Driven Text Ads: Can I combine them with Google Shopping?


    Feed-driven text ads†are dynamically-created search ads that advertise specific products.

    They dynamically show relevant product information like title and price, which they pull from a product feed. We introduced this ad type in our blog article "Create Search Text Ads Using a Product Data Feed".

    They can show up alongside shopping ads, the same way regular search ads do. So the short answer to the question in the headline is: "yes you can and you should". Look at the image below.

    The same advertiser is showing a PLA and a Feed-Driven Text Ad for the same product.


    Google Search Ads


    However, there are certain circumstances where you can't advertise on both.

    Let's have a look at two cases:


    Feed-driven text ads - Yes / Google Shopping - No


    If you advertise anything else other than physical products available to buy online, you can't advertise on Google Shopping (there are a few exceptions like software subscriptions and mobile contracts).

    In fact, Google Shopping is designed†for online retailers, not for services. If you sell flights or hotel rooms, you can't advertise on Google Shopping. You might want to check out Google Hotel Ads instead.

    If you sell yoga lessons or language classes, unfortunately, Google Shopping is not for you either.

    Also, remember that Google Shopping shows images as well as text. Therefore, additional policies apply.

    In fact, Google doesn't accept images showing shocking content, nudity or violence. It is the case of book covers for instance.

    Although books are allowed to be advertised on Google Shopping, if the cover image doesn't comply with the policies, unfortunately, that specific book can't be advertised.

    On the other hand, you can advertise it on search as the cover image wouldn't show.


    Feed-driven text ads - No / Google Shopping - Yes


    The previous instance was mainly about policies and things you can't do as you wouldn't be allowed by Google rules.

    In fact, there isn't really any case where you can advertise on Google Shopping and you can't on Search. There are instances where you advertise on Google Shopping and simply we don't recommend to advertise on Search as well, although you would be allowed to do so.

    It is the case of advertisers selling niche products that don't generate many searches. Products that have long and complex names that people wouldn't remember or search for.

    Looking at the barbecues image above, the second result is definitely one of them: "Lifestyle Bahama Island Gas BBQ c/w Rotisserie & Cover LFS680P" In this case, you rather use just generic search ads targeting generic terms like "barbecues online", "BBQ buy online" etc.


    Learn more on How to Build Successful Search Campaigns


    Pros and Cons of Search Ads and Google Shopping


    Being that said, let's recap all the pros and cons of feed-driven text ads vs Google Shopping and vice-versa.


    Pros of feed-driven text ads

    • Prominent on the search engine result page
    • Great visibility
    • More text and more content
    • Your ad might be bigger than your competitor's if you use all the lines and ad extensions
    • Ad extensions
    • Give more chances to get a clickthrough


    Cons of feed-driven text ads

    • Not suitable for products with long and complex names
    • More complex to implement than Google Shopping
    • CPC might be more expensive than Shopping


    Pros of Google Shopping

    • Easier to implement for a high number of products
    • No need for keywords, potentially more chances to show your products
    • Usually, PLAs are more engaging than search ads as they show an image as well
    • CPC can be relatively cheap compared to search


    Cons of Google Shopping

    • Only suitable for online retail businesses
    • Strict policies around image content
    • Ads show limited content
    • All ads are of the same size. Hard to stand out from competitors


    Learn more on How to Build Successful Search Campaigns




    Both Google Shopping and Feed-Driven Text Ads have pros and cons. The first step for you to master these two ad types is to be aware of their benefits and limitations. Our recommendation is to always use both whenever you can. If for any of the reasons explained above, you are not able to take full advantage of the two combined, make sure you use at least one at its best.


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