Q: Why bother with Product Listing Ads when I can do normal, easy search ads? A: Because you’ll probably pay less per conversion, at least that’s what we find with our eCommerce clients.
You have a retail site and you want to sell stuff online. Great, Google AdWords is a brilliant platform for eCommerce but has a steep learning curve, not to mention a lack of hand-holding for newbies in the Google Support area. Good news – we’re going to bridge the gap and give you a couple of nudges in the right direction.
1. Create a Google Merchant Center Account
Let’s make a clear distinction before we go any further – the Google Merchant Center enables your products to be displayed in Google Shopping, as organic results, or in the standard Google Search results page as paid ads (Product Listing Ads or PLAs). Once you set up the Google Merchant Center and a product feed, your approved products will appear on Google Shopping. The approval process is slow and can take a couple of days so it’s best to get your whole product database uploaded into your product feed well in advance, as well as products that you may stock in future.
Go to here to create your account. Follow this setup guide if you get stuck, but the account creation process is fairly self-explanatory. You will have to verify your website URL which you can do using four different methods, the first one (HTML upload) being the easiest. Speak to your dev team if you get stuck here.
You will also need to link the Merchant Center account to your AdWords account, via Settings – AdWords.
2. Create a Product Feed
This is the most confusing part of setting up your Google Shopping/Product Listing Ads. Don’t forget the distinction between them; Google Shopping Ads are organic, Product Listing Ads are done via AdWords. You can have both running simultaneously as well as text ads on the Google search results page. Yes, that means you can have cover a huge amount of screen space, or ‘real estate’; you can have two paid ads on the search results page, as many organic ranks as you can grab, plus Google Shopping Ads. They can all point to the same product too, there are no limits! You could, in theory, take over almost all of the above-the-fold content on the Google search results page for you product. It would be challenging, but if the competition aren’t putting up much resistance, why not?
Google’s quality of support for the Product Feed takes a DIY approach. Once you get it, it’s pretty easy, but getting it isn’t. The best guide I can give you is a screenshot is of a product feed of a client. We recommend you submit your feed via Google Sheets because it’s a lot less messing around:
Your unique product code. Copy and paste them from your eCommerce platform (Opencart, Magento, etc.) or just make them up as you go along. Logical is best, but whatever taxonomy you choose, ensure they are unique.
What is it? Keep it minimalist.
Write whatever, try to keep it under 170 characters.
New, Used or Refurbished. Don’t write anything else.
The direct link to the product.
Right click on your product image, copy URL and paste here.
12-digit product code.
If no tax and in the US/CA region, US:CA:00.00. If not, research it here.
Needs to be defined in your account settings. Even though Google states that you only need to provide a product’s shipping details if you want to override it at a product level, you must provide them anyway. Again, look here for more info.
Google Product Category
Refer to the Google Product Taxonomy, find the best match for your product category and insert the number.
This is your own product classification. Keep it simple and consistent.
Submit the feed and you should see something like this:
Now if you go to the Products tab, you should see something like this, but bear in mind that it will take days for all your products to go through approval:
The products with green ticks are good to go. Anything else is pending review or failed due to missing or incorrect info in the product feed. As long as there’s a green tick, the product is displaying on Google Shopping. The next step, if you want to, is to get these ads running as AdWords Product Listing Ads.
3. Set up Google Product Listing Ads
Create a new Shopping campaign in AdWords and create your first ad group. You’ll see this:
Resist the temptation to select the first option, ‘Start with one product group with a single bid for all products.’ It would make your life much easier but it’s not best practice for running Google Product Listing Ads. It’s better to choose the second option, ‘Create one ad group and generate multiple product groups based on the product attribute you choose’; it gives far more granular control of your product ads, allowing you to group them by either either Brand, Product Type or Category, all of which correspond with the columns in your product feed. In this instance, I am categorising my ad groups by brand because I might find that iTunes vouchers sell really well and that Google Play vouchers don’t sell so well.
By default, your new ad group will contain all products divided by your chosen category. This is the clever part that Google doesn’t do a good job of explaining: click on the bid in the Max. CPC column and choose ‘excluded’. Do this for all of the product groups that you don’t want to be associated with that ad group.
That’s it, you’re done. Now, go and make some money.