Posted: Monday 28th June 2021 in Services.

Shopping doesn’t just mean spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need….   For marketers, Shopping means make it or break it in the ad world.

You’ve got PPC and think you’re covered? Think again. It shouldn’t be one or the other, and it shouldn’t be “mostly PPC, but a little bit of shopping.” You need both, and you need to make the most of them.

Here at Summit we pride ourselves on our shopping knowledge, and we’d like to share that with you. So, without further ado, here are our top 5 tips for getting the most out of Google Shopping.

1. Get your feed fixed up; it’s all about those attributes!

The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what you do with your shopping account if your feed is rubbish. If the feed is rubbish, the ads will be rubbish too.

Unlike PPC, Shopping does not allow you to manipulate what you show to people with keywords, so you need to make sure all the relevant information is in the feed so that when the PLA is autogenerated, the ad shown will be the most relevant it can possibly be to the person seeing it.

Some retailers might fall into the mindset of “who cares about material or pattern, it makes no difference and it’s a pain to add!”, but the users who are searching for a product will care, and if your specifics aren’t in, you won’t be showing a fully detailed ad – an easy way to lose a sale.

Whether you use a feed management solution or whether you manually update all your attributes, all the information that is inputted is what is needed to create unique titles and unique descriptions. These titles and descriptions ensure that you don’t waste any carousel space.

Feed quality is important and if all is equal in the auction between you and another retailer, but you have better feed quality, you’ll win that auction, and your ad will be shown.

2. What are your ACTUAL top products?

Often, you’ll be told to push a “top selling” product, or a “best seller” on site, but when you dig down into the shopping data, this SKU won’t have converted or certainly won’t be top of the list for high performers.

Just because a product does well on site and has lots of units sold, does not mean this will directly translate across to your top products within your shopping accounts, and should be weary of pushing and pulling based purely upon what sells.

An expensive white t-shirt on your retailer’s website might be a top selling product for example but converts very little through shopping. Imagine however, there is a much cheaper plain white t-shirt which does convert. This cheaper white t-shirt piques shoppers’ interest when they are searching on Google – they click through to your site to buy and oh wait! There’s that nicer looking t-shirt for a little extra money, well, I’ll get that one instead.

The expensive tee has still got the sale, but without the cheaper tee on Google, you might not have enticed the customer in!

Pulling back on products just because they’re not top sellers on site could actually have the opposite effect, and could cause an overall negative effect on sales. Always remember that even if a product isn’t generating many sales itself, it could be generating sales for other products. It is important to know, and recognise, which products have an impact on others.

3. Use the additional shopping features that are available to you.

Google Shopping is not a one trick pony, and while the standard PLAs might seem like enough to be getting on with, you should absolutely be making the most of the extra shopping features that Google has available.

Free Listings

Google Shopping now has access to free listings across various different Google surfaces (like the Shopping tab, Google Search, Google Images, Google Maps, and Google Lens.) For no additional cost, you’ll be able to surface more impressions and therefore hopefully see better results! Google currently estimates that these free ‘surfacings’ account for 5-6% of all Google shopping traffic, so it’s absolutely worth opting in for, especially as it’s free.

These can’t be influenced by your account management, so your feed becomes very important here too.

As mentioned, these are an “opt-in” ad format, so make sure you do, and make sure it’s being tracked.


LIAs, or Local Inventory Ads, are almost mirror images of their PLA counterparts, just with the added bonus of letting customers know if the product they’re looking for is in stock in their local store.

an image showing a side by side comparison of a PLA and LIA shopping ad - the user has searched for kettles

Although LIAs have been around for more than a few years now, and popular with many retailers throughout that time, they have really taken off recently, especially now that shops are starting to open up again and customers are able to go back into store. Google also made a push at the start of lockdown to get retailers to use LIAs, as curb side pickup became a new and common occurrence.

LIAs have the potential to not only increase your traffic, but your footfall too. And while traffic may be at lower levels than your PLAs, it is richer and more qualified. Increasing sales one way or another!

These ads are also a great way to showcase any Click & Collect offerings and features you may have, directly on the ad.

a detailed LIA ad, showing images, addresses of stores, and in stock information

Discovery Ads

Discovery Ads are ads which Google show across 3 of their main platforms – Discover (Google’s new replacement for Google Feed), YouTube, and Gmail.

It’s an ad format that allows you to create a gallery style ad that can be used in all stages of the funnel but is primarily for those in the discovery stage. You can choose to showcase a single image of your product, or multiple images in a swipeable carousel format. This makes them a great tool for acquiring new users, as Google will show these ads to users in the research phase, meaning they’ll have high intent to purchase.

Much like the Free Listings Google offer, you cannot choose where your Discovery ads will be shown, but the options are limited to the 3 spaces mentioned above.

“Thanks to Google’s audience and customer intent signals, this campaign type helps you deliver highly visual, inspiring personalised ad experiences to people who are ready to discover and engage with your brand – all through a single Google Ads campaign.” – Google

Although another ad format might seem like extra work and faff, Discovery allows you to reach users across different stages of their research and is based upon topics that a user is actively interested in, along with signals such as videos the user watches on YouTube or content the user follows on Discover.

“Discovery campaigns to help you reach these consumers in the moments when they’re open to learning about new products and services.”

4. Use a CSS  

Whilst you can happily continue to use Google’s own Shopping service, there are benefits to using a Comparison Shopping Service to list your ads on the Google results page.

First off, there is the option of having a CSS do the whole job for you. Easy! This does however limit your control, but takes it off your plate.

The second option is to utilise a CSS partner as an ad platform. This way you have control over, and can manage your ads as normal, but you get all the pros of entering the auctions via the CSS platform.

By bidding directly with Google Shopping, only 80% of the CPC you pay will be used in the auction, whereas by using a CSS, 100% of what you pay for a click is used to bid for a spot on the SERP. This means you could be surfacing more impressions and gaining more traffic without a cost increase. Or, you could be driving the same amount of traffic for a CPC reduction of up to 20% – great news either way!

If you’re up against a competitor on CSS, but you’re still on Google, with the same bid inputted, the competitor would win outright (with their extra 20%).

So, while you might not technically be “saving” the extra 20%, you do get an extra 20% more bid.

5. Remember that it’s not PPC

It’s important to remember that your shopping accounts are not the same as your PPC accounts and should therefore not be treated and optimised the same way.

Your shopping ads will be generated from the product data you provide in your feed, and not from a list of keywords you choose. This means there’s no need for the overly intricate and granular campaigns and ad groups that you might have for PPC.

Too many campaigns and ad groups on shopping will just cause a dilution of your budget, and you’ll cap out much sooner than you need to. You’ll also create far too much work for yourself by having just a few products in each group. It doesn’t necessarily matter where your product sits within your structure, this won’t always change what search term it shows up for.

Structure your campaigns for budget management and reporting, not product sets.

You also want to remember not to optimise the same as you do for PPC. The KPIs and benchmarks should be different for shopping.

One of the big differences to look out for, and to remember is that there are multiple spots in a shopping carousel, which on first appearances can make a CTR look poor. This is to be expected however as more ads are showing in the carousel space, but only one of these can be clicked on.

Carousels are also all about the branding – everything you show for in the carousel has your name and your images on it. Your brand is shown to the customer front and centre in a very visual way. In this instance, surfacing more impressions could be seen as a better KPI for shopping than CTR. What do you want to get out of your ads?

If you’d like to hear more about Productcaster, our shopping technology, or speak to our experts about improving your shopping proposition, send us an email at [email protected].