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  • Google Shopping Ads show as one large ad unit with multiple product pictures and products. Clicking on a specific Product Listing Ad unit will take you directly to the page where you can pur- chase the product. While product-level specific SEM campaigns run by Google have gone through many transitions and overhauls, this is how they look in their present day format.

    Many users online are searching for specific products or product-level categories when enter- ing queries. Online brands and advertisers are looking to sell specific products from their online stores. Google Shopping Ads provide a seamless experience that connects e-commerce advertisers

    looking to sell specific products with the people looking for those products through pictures and the Product Listing Ad units on the search engine results page.

    Part one of this two-part Elite SEM Google Shopping Whitepaper will introduce you to all of the basic principles and background information needed to fully understand Google Shopping cam- paigns.


    GOOGLE SHOPPING CAMPAIGNS AN OVERVIEW AND INTRODUCTION BY NOW MOST OF the online marketing community is very familiar with what Google Product Listing Ads (also known as Google Shopping Ads) are and what they look like. Plainly stated, Google Shopping Ads are online ad units for specific products that include a picture, price, seller, and title for that featured object or merchandise.

    The Google Shopping experience on desktop and mobile devices.

  • The Google Merchant Center The foundation of Google Shopping ads includes a company’s prod- uct feed that lists their products, and accompanying key details and information about said products. This all lives in the Google Merchant Center.

    In merchant center accounts, advertisers upload their store infor- mation and product data so that Google can index and access it. It is only after the advertiser has set up a product feed, loaded that data into a Google Merchant center, and then linked their Merchant Center with their Adwords account that users can advertise their product ads in product listing ads or shopping ad unit spaces. merchants/?hl=en#topic=3404777

    For those without an

    account, you can sign up at

    A Product Listing Ad (PLA) from a Google Shopping ad unit. PLA displays product image, title, price, and seller.

    2 Elite SEM: Performance Driven Digital Marketing


  • The Basic Product Information • ID: A unique identifier of each item.

    • Title: The title of each item. Include both brand and color in your titles to differentiate similar products.

    • Description: An area to include visual and additional attributes of each specific product. Sizing, technical aspects, material, age, and/ or gender are recommended attributes to be listed here.

    • Google Product Category: This field pertains to the specific cate- gory of product as per Google’s product taxonomy. Google has predefined all the different types of products, thus you will have to classify your products and items by their specific categories and subcategories.

    • Product Type: Provide your own category of your items submitted if you have specific categorization of your products that is different from the Google taxonomy.

    EXPERT TIP Title is one of the most

    important columns within

    your feed! It needs to include

    more specific information

    than just the name of the

    product. Consider adding the


    • Brand name

    • Product Type

    • Color

    • Other informative

    general characteristics

    about the product

    The Product Feed The heart and soul of any Google Shopping campaign is the product feed. Your product feed is a text spreadsheet (tab delimited) or XML file that contains the necessary and specific product information required by Google.

    Certain pieces of information in your feed are required for all types of items. Additional elements may be needed for specific items, depending on what products you sell. Visit- ing the merchant center for the most up to date recommendations and requirements is highly encouraged but a brief summary of the most common can be found here:

    Elite SEM: Performance Driven Digital Marketing 3

  • DECEMBER 2002

    “FROOGLE” LAUNCHES • Google uses web crawlers to catalog

    and list product data from vendors. • Froogle clicks are free!

    APRIL 2007

    “FROOGLE” CHANGES TO “GOOGLE PRODUCT SEARCH” • Mostly interface changes as well as a name change. • Still free, product search ads were not served on but located in “more” options in the search page along with

    video, maps, news, etc. • Fun fact: Marissa Meyer was the VP of Search Products and User Experience at Google at the time.

    OCTOBER 2012

    PRODUCT LISTING ADS LAUNCH • Google Shopping ads completely transition to a paid ad format. • Google offers “a new way to optimize campaigns” at a more granular level:

    optimizing bids for individual products (while it was possible to create specific groupings for more granular products or product categories, tracking cost and revenue to specific products was not available in the Google Adwords interface)

    • Link: A link that sends a user specifically to the product.

    • Mobile Link: A mobile link specified for mo- bile-friendly landing pages for your products if different from your desktop experience.

    • Image Links: A link that points to the main im- age for a specific product. If you have multiple product images you can add in a column for ad- ditional image links. All items require an image link and there are many best practices and rec- ommendations listed on the Google Merchant Center support page.

    • Condition: Identify whether your product is new, refurbished, or used.

    Inventory Status, Pricing, Tax, and Shipping • Availability: Identify whether the product is “in

    stock,” “out of stock,” or available for “preorder.”

    • Price: The price of the item.

    • Tax: Adding the country, region, rate, or tax on shipping is required when necessary.

    • Shipping: Price of shipping, as well as additional optional charges for area of delivery or delivery speed/service.

    Unique Product Identifiers • Brand: The brand that manufactured the prod-


    • GTIN or MPN: The Global Trade Item Number or Manufacturer Part Number where applicable.

    EXPERT TIP You can use specific tracking

    on your links, or implement a

    redirect in order to measure

    users coming to your site from

    shopping campaigns.

    It’s worth the extra leg-

    work— some advantages

    include product-specific mea-

    surement and cross campaign


    4 Elite SEM: Performance Driven Digital Marketing

  • MAY 2013


    • Announcement that Google Shopping will change from a free offering to a pay-per-click commercial model.

    • Google offers all merchants who create Product Listing Ad campaigns by August 15, 2012 10% of their total Product List- ing Ad spend through the end of 2012.

    • Google touts making Product Listing Ads paid will lead to better customer service on the product end and a better experience.

    • Google also mentions consolidating where product ads show up on the SERP from multiple spots to one format clearly labeled “sponsored.”

    OCTOBER 2013


    • Google announces a new campaign type for Product Listing Ads to streamline the manage- ment and reporting of product specific shopping campaigns.

    • Only available to a limited group of advertisers.

    APRIL 2, 2014


    • Google gives advertisers a specific date when PLA campaigns will be discontinued and all advertisers must transition to Google Shopping campaigns.

    AUGUST 2014


    • New Shopping campaigns allow advertisers to browse product inventory directly in Adwords, as well as monitor the specific product level cost, revenue, and other metrics that were unavailable for Product Listing Ads.

    • Up to five custom labels are now available in the product feed for customized bidding and grouping (as compared to two previously: “Adword labels” and “Adwords groupings”).

    • Benchmarking your shopping campaign performance against similar products for CPCs and CTR becomes available.

    • Creating multiple ad groups within shopping campaigns are now supported.

    Adwords Attributes and Other Variables on the Product Feed There are five custom label columns available to further group your products and promote, budget, and bid on your e-commerce products more specifically and intelligently. These cus- tom labels can be used how you see fit to di- vide a product catalog based on performance.

    The most advanced advertisers use custom labels to their advantage to separate out their product feed into more manageable segments for budgeting, bidding, reporting, and monitor- ing. Some common