Google Merchant Center, the so-called Google Shopping
Google Shopping is an ideal advertising solution for the e-commerce industry based on commercial transactions concluded using mobile and stationary devices.
Currently, these transactions mostly take place via the Internet, where the customer and the seller virtually meet, most often on the seller’s website. However, in order for the customer to reach it and, most importantly, to make a purchase, it is necessary to have it in front of his/her eyes! This is what Google Shopping allows.
Google Shopping what is it?
Google Shopping is one of the advertising options that appear on Google, which is especially recommended for online stores, where the consumer products are sold, e.g. clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, tools, furniture, etc. Thanks to Google Shopping, we can advertise your products and display them at the top of the search engine. Our product will appear in the Google search engine after entering a keyword, e.g. black high heels.
Product advertising on Google Shopping is presented using: photo, price, description and name of the store. After entering the keyword, the customer receives all the information that interests him/her, along with a link to the online store where he/she can buy the product.
Google Shopping for who?
It does not matter if you are just starting with your own online store and all your attention is focused on choosing the best platform that will meet the your needs – that is the seller – but also the customer, or you have been selling your products over the Internet for some time – anyway, it’s worth including Google Shopping in your marketing activities. First of all, because one of the most important aspects that customers take into account when shopping is the price of the product.
Google Shopping allows users to compare offers based on their price. So it is a great solution for people who have already made a purchase decision and are looking for the right product and want to find out what prices are offered by different sellers. Sometimes that the price range of a given product is very large. The most competitive brands constantly monitor the prices of the competition so that they can react to them rapidly. Therefore, Google Shopping allows our products to appear among other products offered by the competitors. If the prices we offer are competitive or we offer additional benefits for the customer, such as cheaper or faster delivery, it is worth adding our products to price comparison websites.
A shopping campaign can be conducted for a store with 1 product and 30,000 products. Depending on the size of the store and the number of products offered, the process of creating and optimizing the campaign will differ. Ultimately, however, Google Shopping allows you to advertise both larger and smaller players.
The advantages of Google Shopping
For an online store, there are actually only advantages to advertising through Google Shopping. Below are some of the greatest:
Product presentation in visual form (photo)
Customers buy with their eyes, such a statement doesn’t surprise anyone. When looking for a suitable product, despite the fact that we can find a lot of additional information and a detailed description of its appearance, dimensions, functionality and properties, we still ultimately evaluate it based on the photo. We decide whether a given cabinet will match the style of our kitchen or a particular shoe will go with our wedding dress, not by the description, but by the photo. Therefore, products that appear at the top of the page after the user enters a query or phrase are very often viewed in the first phase of the search. And on their basis, the consumer decides to go further to the seller’s website.
Product price presentation
Having multiple offers for the same product to choose from, the consumer will most likely make a final decision based on price. The price comparison website on Google Shopping allows you to quickly and clearly compare both the price and product photos, which play a key role in the customer’s decision-making process.
The source of precise and profitable traffic
By clicking on the advertisement of our product, the user knows exactly what to expect after being redirected to our website. For the seller, it is a profitable move, because the person who clicked on our product is interested in it. This type of advertising for online stores is therefore much more precise and profitable compared to advertising in the Search Network.
The products are tailored to specific customer inquiries
The algorithm used in Shopping ads is different from the one used in text ads. We do not have keywords here, but a product feed on the basis of which products are matched to specific user queries. When displaying an advertisement to the users, we can be sure that it is the product they are looking for, or at least the product whose name or phrase was entered by the users.
Precise analysis of the results
By attracting relevant users to your website, thanks to well-matched advertisements, we have the ability to precisely measure the results we achieve. By using appropriate measurement tools, such as Google Analytics, we can easily determine what the customer’s shopping path looks like, what forms of promotion are interesting for him/her, and where on the website he/she meets with problems or encounters difficulties in pre- and after-sales service. At Verseo, we also offer weekly or monthly reports on activities and results so that our clients can monitor their profits on an ongoing basis and improve the customer experience on their site.
How to start advertising on Google Shopping?
To start a Shopping ad, you need to link your Google account with your Google Merchant Center and Google Ads (AdWords) account. Google Merchant Center is a tool that allows you to submit information about the store and products shared on Google and other Google services.
The first step is to set up a Gmail account or use the one you already have. It would be ideal if the account we use was also linked to Google Analytics.
Then you need to register on the Google Merchant Center website and create an account. You should pay attention to the fact where the store is located and in which language the ads will be displayed. Then reserve and verify the address (URL) of your store website.
If the above mentioned is not enough, you should try one of the following: upload HTML file, add meta tag to home page, add Google Tag Manager container code.
After setting up an account, you can create and upload product data, e.g. in the feed format or using the Google Content API for Shopping.
Google Merchant Center feed
A feed is a product list that uses attribute groups that uniquely define each of the products offered on the seller’s website.
Attributes may have standardized values or contain previously defined terms. It is different in the case of attributes related to the “identifier” or “title” of products, as these can have their own values inserted. Therefore, the submitted product feed contains a number of information about the product in Google Center. These are basic information, such as the title, description, size, color, price, but also more complex structures, such as [maximum_energetic_effectiveness_class] or information about whether a given product is included in the collective packaging.
Using these attributes when creating an accurate product description will allow users to find products more easily and advertisers to match them better to customer searches.
The required information in Google Merchant Center regarding the products we want to advertise is:
- id [identifier]
The quality and quantity of information sent about products is used to match the product to the user’s search. The campaign will only deliver the satisfactory results if each product is properly described based on correct and comprehensive data. Therefore, not only the basic and most common data, such as the title or description are important, but also those that will allow a better differentiation of a given offer from other advertisers and a more precise match to the user’s searches, and thus to his / her expectations.
Appropriate product feed format
Supported product feed formats are text (.txt) and XML (.xml). Depending on the quantity of products, appropriate formats are recommended. Small retailers are usually advised to use the .txt format as it does not require a lot of technical knowledge and is easier to obtain. Such a feed in .txt format can be easily created using a spreadsheet editor, or you can generate a spreadsheet from a template previously filled in by the seller or upload an existing spreadsheet.
In the case of online stores offering a large number of products and having an advanced sales platform and specialists responsible for its maintenance, you can obtain a data file in XML format.
The feed with our products can also be categorized and the articles that, for example, we currently do not want to sell can be excluded from the shopping campaign. We also have the ability to manage the rates of individual products, e.g. depending on the season, revenues generated by a given product or the actions of the competition.
Selection of the most important products for advertising on Google Shopping
Due to differences in the quality of descriptions, titles and information sent to Google Merchant Center, as well as differences in the business goals of the advertising business, it is sometimes impossible to take care of every product.
Online stores that offer several or a dozen products usually have a clearly and specifically defined target group, and their products are displayed on specific customer searches. Each of the offered products can, therefore, be equally important in the context of business and bring similar profits. However, for larger stores with thousands of products, with very different prices and properties, it is suggested that you identify the ones you care about the most and make sure they receive the most impressions, clicks and conversions.
Optimizing a shopping campaign is also based on monitoring the best performing products and other factors that affect sales results, such as return on investment. It may turn out that the previously made assumptions regarding a given type of product or category were wrong and the previously excluded solutions turn out to be the most profitable.
Shopping ads appear to customers at different levels of the shopping path, some already know the advertiser’s brand, for others, thanks to the advertisement, it will be the first time they will appear on their website. Each of these customers may therefore make a different decision, sometimes completely different than the seller would expect. For example, thanks to an advertisement on Google Shopping, a user who has never heard of a given business may decide to buy products that are not so often bought by regular customers who directly visit the advertiser’s website in search of specific products, avoiding those unknown to them.
How much does an advertising campaign on Google Shopping cost?
The amount of budget needed depends on the competitiveness of the industry and products. Of course, at the very beginning, it is the advertiser, after the initial analysis of the Google Ads specialist, who determines the total and daily budget. It is suggested that the daily budget should be chosen based on advertising goals and the average amount that the advertiser wants to spend each day. If your daily budget is too small, it may run out in the middle of the day, and in the result your ads will not show and not achieve the desired results.
By specifying the monthly budget at the very beginning, it is easy to determine the daily budget, just to divide the value of the previously established monthly budget by 30.4 (that is the average number of days in a month).
Billing model in the Shopping campaign
The choice of the billing model is usually the job of a Google Ads specialist who will best adjust the appropriate models and their rates, depending on the goals set by the advertiser. In Google Shopping, we have the option of choosing three goals related to appropriate billing models, i.e.:
CPC billing model
Maximize clicks within the budget
Choose this goal if you want to maximize clicks on the ad and achieve the highest number of visits to the site, which often leads to more clicks on shopping ads with a small number of visits, so as to maintain a certain level of spending.
The eCPC billing model
Maximize conversions while maintaining control over your bids
If, on the other hand, our goal is to maximize conversions, we recommend Enhanced CPC, a model where self-determined bids are automatically adjusted up or down to get the most conversions for each click.
ROAS billing model
Maximize the number or value of conversions while maintaining a predetermined return on ad spend
When our goal is to maximize the number or value of conversions, assuming the expected return on the sum allocated to the ad. With ROAS billing, bids are set automatically to allow the advertiser to maximize the conversion value of the average return on ad spend.
Depending on whether advertisers want to attract users to their website or increase revenues by maximizing conversion value, an appropriate goal is selected. Before making a decision, a Google Ads specialist analyzes many different variables and conducts a conversation with the advertiser in order to understand better the specifics of his or her business and goals, both business goals and strictly marketing.
How to define the goal of an advertising campaign in Google Shopping?
The choice of campaign goal will have a huge impact on the subsequent analysis and interpretation of the results obtained by the advertiser. It is important at the very beginning to consider the main goals of the business, in this case, the online store, and whether the brand is already widely known or has just appeared on the market.
The goals and billing models presented above can be used both at the ad group and campaign level, so we do not have to decide on one single goal and billing model for the entire shopping campaign, that is for all products.
Appropriate billing models can be adjusted depending on the group of products we want to advertise.
How to determine the budget of a shopping campaign?
The budget of a shopping campaign is usually determined by the advertiser at the outset. Sometimes, however, advertisers decide to adjust it after reading the initial offer and after the first talks with a Google Ads specialist.
Initial consultation allows both parties to plan the structure of the campaign and its implementation. Thanks to the initial conversation, the Google Ads specialist has the opportunity to better understand the advertiser’s industry, its customers and other specific aspects of the business.
The advertiser receives a huge amount of data and information about the operation of Google Shopping ads, the best tactics and suggested changes or adjustments of the website in order to achieve the best results. Then, after a thorough analysis of the available information, the budget should be defined, both total (monthly) and daily.
Of course, setting a budget does not necessarily mean that it can never be changed. The Google Ads specialist consults the advertiser on an ongoing basis, so as to be able to react to, for example, the so-called high and low season, or other variables that affect the advertiser’s business.
The best ways to advertise your online store
Google Shopping is one of the best advertising options for an online store. Of course, everything also depends on the industry or products offered in the store.
When deciding to advertise on the Internet, it is worth considering the various available channels in order to reach your customers not only in the search engine but also in other available places, e.g. in social media, Youtube or the Google Display Network. For an online store offering consumer goods such as clothing, shoes, furniture, sports goods, kitchen accessories, etc., advertising on Facebook or Instagram is currently one of the most common forms of advertising for both bigger and smaller businesses.
The combination of several channels makes it possible not only to maximize the results, but also to promote the brand faster, gain loyal fans and show the business’s life “from the inside”.
Google Shopping Information Summary:
The possibility of advertising on Google Shopping can be used by both a small online store, with several or a dozen products in its portfolio, and a large one, with a huge number of products. In order to properly prepare for this promotion model, you should remember a few steps, which are presented below:
A Google Merchant Center account must be linked to a Google Ads account. If we don’t link these accounts, Google will prevent us from setting up a Shopping campaign.
Site verification and reservation
Google must be notified who is the authorized owner of the website and which website is to be associated with the Google Merchant account.
Appropriate preparation and uploading of the product feed and regular control of the product approval status.
Account settings and monitoring
Selecting the appropriate settings for sending and updating the status/quantity of products in the campaign, and monitoring your account on an ongoing basis to detect problems with individual products.
When building a campaign, choosing the right settings for a given campaign: setting the goal and priority of the campaign, adjusting the budget to the number of products and determining the method of displaying ads.
Set a daily budget for your Shopping campaign based on the type and number of products you’re advertising.
Campaign priority settings
Use of campaign priority settings when advertising the same products through several different Shopping campaigns. This allows you to determine which campaigns are of greater importance and which aren’t, so that the system will know which products are to be displayed more often and which less often.
Breakdown of the product feed
Correct breakdown of the product feed, which will allow for effective optimization of the campaign and adjustment of bids for specific products. It is suggested that the product feed should be broken down as much as possible (by product types, brands or categories).
Product bid adjustments
Customized rates per click to specific products, their potential and sales value.
Setting bids based on estimated cost-per-click (e.g. available in the keyword planner). If the bids are set too low, your ads may appear in low positions or will not be shown.
Add word exclusions regularly and accurately, using narrower match types.
Setting a remarketing list that allows you to modify the bids for recipients who have visited the website of the online store at least once and are looking for the same products again (the remarketing list will work after collecting at least 1000 cookies).
To launch a Shopping ad, you need to take into account a lot of variables, especially in the case of larger stores with many types, brands and categories of products in their portfolio.
Inaccurate planning, setting and implementation of the campaign may result in not using the full potential of the advertisement, and thus burning the budget and achieving worse results than assumed. That is why it is worth consulting a specialist before making a decision.