Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping Ads 2024

  • 12 min read

Standard Google Shopping campaigns are an effective way to promote your products in Google search results and the dedicated Shopping tab. Google uses your product information to create the ads and target them to shoppers who are likely interested in making a purchase.

In this Google Shopping guide you’ll learn the answers to these questions:

  • How can you set up your Standard Shopping Ads campaigns?
  • How are Shopping ads different from other Google ads and their benefits?
  • How can you create a perfectly optimized feed so that your ads perform well and fix common errors?
  • What Google Shopping Ads best practices should you follow?


What are Google Shopping campaigns?

Google Shopping campaigns are a great way to promote your products on Google and can help you increase sales. It's a form of online advertising that allows you to show your ads to people who are shopping for products like yours on Google.

Shopping ads include images of your products. They typically appear at the top of the search results list when relevant, and there is also a dedicated Shopping tab.

Underneath them in the Shopping tab, you’ll find free product listings which are presented to users when there isn’t any paid competition.

How do Google Shopping ads work?

Rather than bidding on keywords like with other types of campaigns, the product data that you upload through Merchant Center will determine when your ads are shown. 

Shopping ads combine this data to create your ads. The information that visually stands out the most are: 

  • Images 
  • Product title 
  • Price
  • Your store’s name

Your ads will appear slightly differently depending on what kind of browser the user has.

Image courtesy of Google

Ad groups and product groups

Ad groups allow you to add structure to your Shopping campaigns so that the same bid isn't applied to all of your products. 

You can also create product groups based on product type and Google product categories. 

The more structure you build into your Shopping campaigns this way, the more control you will have over your bids. This will make sure that your advertising budget is spent well, and not wasted on unprofitable products.
 

4 Benefits of Google Shopping ads

Because Shopping ads often appear at the top of Google Search results, there’s a possibility of greatly increasing the visibility of your products. Let’s take a look at some other benefits.

  1. Get qualified leads coming to your website.

    By the time the user has come to your site, they’ve already compared the price and what your product looks like to your competitors. This means your ads are shown to people who have purchase intent.

  2. Show up on the SERP multiple times

    If you’re also running text ads then you have the possibility of showing up twice. More than one of your product ads can also appear for the same query, allowing you to dominate the SERP space.

  3. Get detailed analytics

    Knowledge is power. The highly specific data you can get from your ads will help create updated advertising strategies. This allows you to reach and surpass your goals.

  4. Staying competitive 

    Google Search results will soon be more integrated with AI (Google Search Experience). Your ads will be highly targeted while AI walks the user through a purchasing decision. If your product data is on point and you’ve included all possible information, it will open you up to making more sales.

 

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Google Shopping product feed requirements

If you're running a Google Shopping campaign, it's beneficial to have a product feed rather than manually adding products one by one. 

How to set up a Google Shopping feed?

A product feed is a spreadsheet file (Like Google Sheets or Excel) that contains all your product information. The information will be organized in rows by product IDs with the columns housing individual attributes.

There are certain attributes that must be included for the product to be approved. These attributes are always required for each product: 

  • ID [id]
  • Title [title]
  • Description [description]
  • Link [link]
  • Image link [image_link]
  • Availability [availability]
  • Availability date [availability_date]
  • Price [price]

These attributes are required in some cases:

Attribute name 

Required…

Brand [brand]

For new products

GTIN [gtin]

For products without MPNs

MPN [mpn]

Only if your product does not have a GTIN

Adult

If a product has adult content

Multipack [multipack]

For some countries and all free listings

Bundle [is_bundle]

For some countries and free listings if your bundle has a main product

Certification [certification]

For products that need to have a certification to be advertised

Age group [age_group]

For all apparel sold in some countries, and all apparel ads for free listings,  or when the product is for a specific age group

Color [color]

For all apparel sold in some countries, and all apparel ads for free listings

Gender [gender]

For all apparel sold in some countries, and all apparel ads for free listings,  or when the product is for a specific age group

Material [material]

If you’re selling similar variants where material is the only difference

Size [size]

For all apparel sold in some countries, and all apparel ads for free listings

Tax [tax]

Only for the US

Shipping [shipping] 

For some countries and all free listings

Item group ID [item_group_id]

Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the US if the product is a variant

Optimizing product feeds with a Shopping feed management service     

Providing the required information above is enough to get your products listed, but it doesn’t guarantee that your ads will rank high enough to pull in any conversions. That’s where optimizing your product data comes in. 

DataFeedWatch allows you to create automated rules that pull your data together in a way that speaks Google’s language. It makes it possible to take a messy product feed spreadsheet and sculpt into well-performing ads. You’re also able to easily fill in any gaps in your product data. 

Let’s take a look at the most important attributes for Shopping campaigns and how you can use shopping feed integration to optimize them. 

Product titles

Combine and rearrange product information to create product titles that show the most important information first. This will help users see the information they’re looking for in a quick glance. Provide as much information as possible in your titles because it helps match the user’s search query. 

Here is a general rule of thumb for how to create your titles based on the vertical you’re selling:

 

Images

Populate missing images by using a lookup table.

If your products don’t have images you can exclude them for the time being.

Descriptions

Pull data from your feed to create descriptions that will help your ads rank higher and give shoppers the information they are looking for. Use strategic keywords to help  your ads rank higher.

Here are some product description do’s and don’ts. Follow these guidelines when creating your descriptions in order for Google to “be happy” with them.

Do…

Don’t…

Make sure your titles and descriptions are different 

Keyword stuff (the description should be helpful for shoppers)

Create descriptions that are long enough (Up to 5k characters are allowed, but the most important information should be placed within the first 160-500)

Include promotional language

Be as specific and accurate as possible

Use confusing and overly complicated writing

Product type and Google product categories

Populate the fields for product type and product categories to give Google as much information as possible about your products. They’re both different but serve a similar purpose. 

You can choose your own labels for the product_type attribute to separate your products. They won’t be seen by online shoppers.

Google has its own predefined product taxonomy system that you can use to categorize your products. It’s possible to do through DataFeedWatch as shown below: 

Choose the branch that most closely matches the products you’re selling. You can even set up rules to pull information from your product type to set up automated categorization. 

GTINs (and unique product identifiers) 

Other attributes

Make sure the following attributes are also mapped correctly and for all of your products. That way your titles and descriptions will have all the information needed for optimization: 

  • Color
  • Size
  • Age group
     

Automatic feed review

After optimizing your feed, you’ll be ready to send your optimized product feed to Google Merchant Center. But before it goes, you can use a Shopping feed management service to conduct an automatic feed feed review. This review ensures that your products don’t contain any errors.

If errors or warnings are found, you’ll be directed to the solution.

 

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How can you set up Google Shopping ads?

In order to start advertising, you’ll need to set up your Google Shopping campaign in Google Ads. Here’s what you need to make sure of:

  • You have a Google account 
  • You have a Merchant Center account
  • Your products adhere to Google’s policies 
  • You’re able to send fresh product data at least every 30 days to Merchant Center 

Image courtesy of Google

To get your campaigns up and running, you’ll need both Google Merchant Center and Google Ads. 

Your Google Merchant Center will contain all the data about your campaigns. It’s also where you’ll upload your product feeds. 

Once your feeds are set up, you’ll go into Google Ads to set up your new Google Shopping campaign:

  1. Click on +New Campaign in Google ads.

  2. Choose your campaign objective
    What’s the main goal you want to accomplish with your campaigns? Objectives make it easier to strategize and make decisions that will help you achieve these goals. There are 3 different campaign objectives you can pick for your Shopping campaigns:
     
    1. Sales: Increase your sales and conversions. Targets shoppers who’ve been in touch with you or are about to make a purchase.

    2. Leads: Get more newsletter signups or contact info of shoppers.

    3. Website traffic: Boost the amount of shoppers coming to your website.

  3. Choose Shopping as the campaign type 

  4. Choose the account you want your products to be pulled from, or link your account if you haven’t already

  5. Choose which feeds you want to pull products from

  6. Set up your campaign preferences

    1. Name your campaign 
      Can be anything you’d like, and possible to change later. 

    2. Bidding
      Choose your bid strategy based on what you’d like to accomplish with your Shopping ads. There are 4 options to choose from:

      Bidding Strategy 

      Choose if your goal is to focus on…

      How it works 

      Maximize clicks

      Increasing web traffic and reaching your budget consistently. Don’t choose this option if your goal is to keep a certain Ad Rank or cost per conversion.

      Choose your daily budget and then Google Ads will work to bring you as many clicks as possible within that budget. However, you won’t be able to set individual bids. 

      tROAS (Targeted return on ad spend)

      Conversion value 

      Targets a specific ROAS while increasing your conversions. 

      Manual CPC (Cost per click)

      Bringing traffic to your website (rather than brand awareness) and you don’t care about reaching your budget. 

      Rather than letting Google manage your bids, you do it yourself. This allows you to set different bids for different ad groups. 

    3. Daily budget
      Decide how much you want to spend each day.

    4. Campaign priority 
      Only set this option if you are advertising products in more than one campaign.

    5. Networks
      Untick the box next to the network if you don’t want your ads to show in specific Google networks.

    6. Devices
      Your ads will automatically show on all devices.

    7. Locations
      Set this option if you want to choose exactly where your ads are showing.

    8. Local inventory ads
      Only use this option if you’re also going to advertise products sold in your brick and mortar shop.

  7. Save your choices and hit continue

  8. Create your ad group
    1. Set the ad group name

    2. Choose the bid that will be applied to all products in the ad group. This can be changed later. 

  9. Save and then create more ad groups
    Why is it a good idea to create more ad groups? Creating more ad groups will allow you to have more specific bids on different categories of products, for example “Best Sellers”. 

Automatic feed updates with shopping feed software

Using a feed management service to send your product data to your Google Merchant Center account will guarantee your ads are always up to date with fresh product data. This also removes the need for you to update your feeds manually when changes are made.

The product info you’re sending to Google will also be perfectly optimized. This can result in better performing ads and increased ROAS. It will also be automatically checked for errors before being sent to Google so you can avoid any disapprovals. 

There are 3 ways you can upload your feed with DataFeedWatch: 

  1. Using a URL

    Copy your feed URL and add it as the feed source in Google Ads. This will ensure that any time you update the information in your feed, that Google will know as soon as possible. 

    This is the best option for most merchants who are advertising more than a few products.
     
  2. Using a file

    You can also export your optimized product feed as a file and then upload it to Google Ads. 

    If you’re only advertising a few products or know you won’t be making a lot of changes to your product feed (like stock levels), then this option can work for you. However, you will need to upload a new file every time you make changes to your feed. 

  3. FTP connection 

    If you’d like to have several feed updates a day, you can upload your feed via an FTP connection.

 

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Google Shopping Ads Best Practices & Requirements

Follow these best practices to optimize your Google Shopping campaigns. They also include more tips on how to set up your Google Shopping feed. 

  1. Use lifestyle images 

    Using lifestyle images rather than plain images to make your ads more relatable for users. You can also A/B test the two against each other to see which resonates most with your target audience. 

    Apparel items have been shown to be more successful when a model is wearing them in the image. 

  2. Upload multiple images 

    The more images you make available to shoppers, the better idea they’ll have of your product and if it’s the right item for them. The attribute additional_image_link will allow you to add up to 10 images for each product. 
  3. Use the right product data from the start  

    The type of data you add to your products can have a big impact on how well they perform. Adding accurate information like product names, descriptions, and prices will help your ads show up more often and drive sales. 

    However, it’s important to note that Google doesn’t allow you to edit any product data after creating an ad group. So if you notice that some of your products are showing up with incorrect info, delete those items from the ad group and add them again with correct data from the start. 

  4. Fix errors as soon as possible

    Giving Google quality data will ensure your products appear in the right way for shoppers and drive sales for your business. But if you do encounter errors and disapprovals you should fix them as soon as you can to stop the negative impact they will have on your account. 

    1. Products out of stock

      If you're getting an error for Your product feed should have 1 of 3 options for all of your products: In stock, out of stock, or preorder. 
    2. GTINs 

      You don’t need to provide GTINs, but when you do it's required to provide correct numbers. If you provide incorrect info for them, you will get an error. 

      It’s also in your best interest to provide them anyway, because Google has said ads with GTINs will be prioritized. You can use a GTIN validator to make sure they are correct.
       
    3. Mismatched values  

      You can get this error if the prices on your website don’t match the prices on your ads. Not only is this misleading for users, but it will also negatively affect your account and performance if left without fixing it.  

      Make sure your product data is being updated regularly and consider adding microdata to your landing pages. This way when Google crawls your page, the data will be up to date. 

    4. Images that are too small or with low quality 

      If you know your products are fine on your website, make sure they’re being pulled from the correct location in your product feed. 

      If your original images are too small (smaller than 100x100 px for regular products and smaller than 250x250 px for apparel items), then temporarily exclude those disapproved products from advertising. Then once you have your new images, make sure they’re mapped properly and reupload them.  

      Check out our article on 35 Common Merchant Center Errors + How to fix them.
       
  5. Include negative keywords

    Shopping campaigns don’t use keywords the way text ads do. Instead, you can include negative keywords. This will prevent your ads showing for search queries where you know for sure that it won’t result in a conversion. 

    To create your negative keywords list, you can use tools like Google Keyword planner and search term reports. 

  6. Remove unprofitable products 

    Reduce wasted ad spend by not advertising products that have too high of a cost-per-click. You can also remove products that are underperforming. 

  7. Combine Shopping ads with a Performance Max campaign 

    Run a Performance Max (PMax) campaign alongside your standard Shopping campaign to maximize your results. They give advertisers a chance to take advantage of Google’s AI. 

    PMax campaigns show across all Google networks and have different bidding strategies than standard Shopping campaigns. They require more assets than standard Shopping campaigns when creating your campaign, but it’s worth it to run them both. 

  8. Avoid errors from happening in the first place by setting up feeds and campaigns correctly 

    Google will issue errors, disapprovals, and warnings to your account in the case of product listings that violate their guidelines. 

    Warnings indicate issues that may cause problems with your account in the future if not fixed, but errors and disapproval can lead to account suspension and your products not showing. In order to avoid a mess, it’s best to make sure your product data is fully optimized before sending it to Google. 

  9. Keep an eye on competitor prices

    Tools like Price Watch give you a competitive edge on retailers selling the same products as you. By knowing how they’re pricing their products, you can change your prices and bid more competitively.

  10. Track your analytics 

    Keeping track of how your ads are performing at a campaign and product level helps you make informed changes. For example, you can choose to remove products when there aren’t any conversions within a certain time period.


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More Advanced Features of Google Shopping Ads

There are some advanced features of Google Shopping Campaigns that can help you get the most out of your ads. 

  1. Use ad enhancements.

    Include these enhancements with your ads that will give shoppers more information. They will also make your ads stand out and more appealing.
     
    1. Promotions

      Adding promotions to your Shopping ads will place a link that says “Special Offer” on your ad.
       
      Users are able to click on the link to get additional information about the discount you are offering.
       
    2. Display product ratings

      Showing your product ratings lets interested users see how your customers have rated your products. This gives you leverage over your competitors by making your ads stand out, and your products potentially being rated higher than others. 
    3. Customer reviews

      Similar to product ratings, customer reviews show other users your customer’s thoughts about your products. It’s easy for your customers to fill out, because they can choose to take a one-click survey when checking out on your website.

  2. Supplemental feeds

    Supplemental feeds allow you to add more information about your products in a separate spreadsheet. Some uses for supplemental feeds are: 

    1. Adding missing information to your feeds

    2. Creating seasonal custom labels

    3. Overwriting values for feed attributes

      For example, if you want to change a specific word in certain product titles or descriptions.
       
    4. Fixing product disapprovals and errors

  3. Additional feed types

    You’ll typically be working with the typical Google Merchant Center feed, but depending on your selling needs, you may encounter one of these additional feed types below.
     
    1. Dynamic remarketing 

      Using this feed will allow you to create custom ads to retarget shoppers who have visited your website or abandoned their shopping carts. 

    2. Local inventory ads

      If you have a brick and mortar store, you can use this feed to channel online traffic into your physical store. 
    3. Promotions 

      Allows you to add promotions to your product feed that showcases the special offers you have to users.

    4. Product ratings

      Gain social proof by having your product ratings and reviews visible to interested users. 
    5. Manufacturer center

      This feed is for brand owners and manufacturers to gain more control over how their products appear online.
       
  4. Use Google Merchant Center to enhance images 

    By turning on ‘automatic image improvements’ you can let Google fix and enhance your product images. This can ensure that your images meet Google’s requirements and optimize your images so that they perform better. 

    This is especially helpful if your images have overlays or promotional text because they’re not allowed.

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Conclusion

Standard Shopping ads are a great way to boost your sales and increase your brand awareness. They send shoppers ready to make a purchase to your website and can be tailored to fit your advertising goals. Now that you know how to set up a Google Shopping campaign and create your product feed so that it fits Google’s requirements, you can try out these 8 expert-level Google Shopping optimization tips to stand out from your competition even more. 


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About DataFeedWatch

DataFeedWatch by Cart.com is the top-rated global product feed management platform that enables eCommerce brands, retailers, and digital agencies to drive multichannel growth. Merchants on both custom solutions and popular shopping carts, like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento (among others), can choose from 2000+ integrated shopping channels, affiliate networks, and marketplaces in 60 countries (such as Google, Facebook, Criteo, Amazon, and more). Major global brands like adidas, Decathlon, and KENZO have used DataFeedWatch to improve product performance across channels and expand to new markets. Sign up for a free trial today and receive guided onboarding to get started.

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