Make your products stand out and maximize your reach across Google’s channels

Official guide to reaching more customers across their shopping journeys online and in-store.

 
 

Who is this guide for?

This guide is best for beginner and intermediate retail advertisers who have already set up their free product listings in Google Merchant Center and linked their account to Google Ads. If you still need to upload your products to Merchant Center, you can find more guidance here.

 

Illustration of a woman pushing a shopping cart through a phone. On the other side of the phone are various retail items.

 

Amidst ongoing uncertainty and the constantly-evolving consumer journey, people’s needs and preferences have become a lot more unpredictable, making it increasingly complex to engage them.  

In this guide, you’ll learn how you can make your products stand out and combine your marketing expertise with Google AI-powered ads solutions to drive profitable growth and keep pace with consumers’ rapidly changing behaviors. Your knowledge of your customers and your business are key factors in guiding Google AI to success and differentiating your business from your competitors.

 

Retail Announcement: tl;dr Ads News & How Tos series

 

Illustration: Shoes on a box

1. Enhance your product feed to help your Shopping ads stand out

  • Use high-quality, product-first visuals.

Why: Close-up product shots with a white background make it easy for customers to see product details, helping you drive more engagement. 

Note

In the U.S., you can update your assets in Manufacturer Center to include 3D images if available. You can use this attribute for shoes, glasses, and home goods. Based on internal data, people engage nearly 50 percent more with a 3D image versus a static image.1

  • Ensure your product data is accurate and up-to-date.

Why: Accurate data, like price and availability, is key to ensure your ads showcase the information your customers are looking for. Upload rich product descriptions and update product prices and availability if they change often.

Tip

Having at least 10 product offers will improve the overall performance of your Merchant Center and Ads campaigns.

Showcase your fulfillment options and deals

Why: Shoppers are increasingly looking for great deals, fast delivery times, and easy returns. In fact, surveyed shoppers say the quality of an item (46%) and deals/promotions (45%) are the most helpful things brands can communicate as they consider items to buy.2 Use annotations to stand out to them when they're looking for convenient ways to purchase. 

  • Attract attention to your ads and free listings with deals: Add sales price annotations to all your products that are currently at a discounted price. If you have special promotions, such as a 15% off code, create a promotion in Google Merchant Center so potential customers can see your offer details on Google. In select countries, you can also add regional pricing and availability to show products or pricing that vary by customer location.
  • Meet consumers’ demand for convenience: Set up shipping information and free and fast badging to show you can ship quickly and with reliable fulfillment experiences for customers. If the products don’t fit the bill, give shoppers the assurance they need by highlighting return windows with return annotations like “Free 90-day returns.”

Tip

Illustration of an ad for a watch on sale In Merchant Center, you can measure key performance metrics, like impressions and click-through rate, for any of your products with a deals-related badge. To access this information, click “Performance” and then “Dashboard” in the left-hand navigation menu. With this information, you’ll know the top performing promotions and which categories perform the best when on sale. Learn how you can further optimize your product feed in Merchant Center.

Enable Local Inventory Ads to connect with in-store shoppers

Why: 50% of consumers in surveyed markets said they checked product inventory before going to the store.3 Local Inventory Ads let local shoppers know that your store has the products they’re looking for, at the moment they search on Google. 

  • Create a hybrid structure for maximum omnichannel reach: Activate a hybrid Shopping Ads & Local Inventory ads campaign structure and pair Local Inventory Ads with omnibidding to maximize omnichannel performance.
  • Add store pickup attributes and highlight local deals: Improve CTR, CVR and show customers your fulfillment options by adding attributes like pickup today, pickup later, curbside, and on display to order. Surface local promotions to highlight deals for both omnichannel and local-only redemption.

Note: In Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) program countries, you participate in Shopping ads through one or several CSSs of your choice. Some CSSs manage your product data and your campaigns on your behalf, while others provide tools allowing you to manage your setup yourself. Learn more about advertising with Comparison Shopping Services.


Illustration: 9 people. 3 have checkmarks on their shirts.

2. Reach your customers wherever they are

Capture shopping demand on Search by combining broad match with Smart Bidding and responsive search ads

Why: The best way to achieve better business outcomes is to customize Google AI for your business. This combination helps you reach the right customers, with the right message, at the right price, no matter how they’re searching.

  • Broad match uses all of the signals available in Google Ads to understand the intent of both the user’s search and your keyword, while having the flexibility to find the most relevant match that is expected to perform for you. 
  • Smart Bidding customizes bids for each query—not just every keyword. It ensures that, for all of the relevant searches you could reach with broad match, you’re only competing in the right auctions, at the right bid, for the right user.

    Note

    If you have brick-and-mortar locations, use Smart Bidding for store visits or store sales in your Search and Shopping campaigns to help you maximize online and in-store sales.

  • ​​​​​Responsive search ads automatically create and show the best combination of headlines and descriptions based on what your customers are searching for. These ads can perform better if your ad strength is ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent.’

Tip

Complement your Search campaigns with compelling visuals of your products and services using image assets. Compelling visuals of products or services that enhance the message of your Search ad can help drive performance.

Case Study

Tails.com logo

Tails.com is a subscription company offering tailor-made dog food. Using the combination of broad match, Smart Bidding, and responsive search ads, they increased sign-ups in Germany from its generic Search campaigns by 182%, while increasing clicks by 258%.

Learn more about reaching the right customers on Search

Use Performance Max campaigns together with Search campaigns to drive online sales

Why: Together, AI-powered Search campaigns and Performance Max campaigns are the ads power pairing that will help you find more valuable customers and multiply your conversions across Google's full range of advertising channels. With Performance Max, you can access all of Google’s ad inventory—Search, YouTube, Display, Discover, Gmail, and Maps—all in one campaign. In fact, advertisers that shifted from Standard Shopping campaigns to Performance Max drove a 25% increase in conversion value, on average, at a similar ROAS.4

Performance max is available across Shopping, GMail, Google Search, YouTube, Discover, and Google Maps

  • Add conversion values and use value-based bidding: Setting conversion values is critical for aligning your bid optimization with your business goals. By using a value-based bid strategy like Maximize conversion value (with the option to add a target ROAS), you will help Google AI understand which conversions are most important and should be prioritized in bidding. You can also use conversion value rules to easily adjust values for conversions based on geographic location, device and audiences in real time.

Note

If your business adds new types of conversions or the value of conversions change, make sure to update this to ensure that cross-channel bidding continues to seek the conversions that will drive real business outcomes. Once you change your conversions, this may change your bidding or set your campaign to learning mode for a period of time.

  • Add the new customer acquisition goal: Acquiring new customers is critical to business success. With the new customer acquisition goal in Performance Max, you can optimize for new customers, in addition to maximizing sales. Simply select your customer lists, set customer acquisition value, and your campaign will optimize towards new customers.

Tip

Use new customer value mode so you can bid higher for new customers without excluding existing ones.

  • Add audience signals to unlock new converting audience segments: By sharing the unique insights you have about your customers, you can help accelerate Google AI's ability to find more valuable converting customers, while maintaining relevance and ROI. Provide your data about previous purchasers, and use custom segments to provide insight into the search keywords, web URLs, and apps your customers typically engage with.
  • Provide a range of high-quality creative assets: Upload as many relevant, high-quality variations of text, image, and video assets as possible to increase the number of potential ad formats shown to your customers. Based on internal data, Advertisers that included at least one video in their Performance Max campaigns saw an average increase of 12% total additional conversions.5 The assets you provide will be automatically assembled to find the best-performing combination for each customer, allowing you to show personalized and meaningful ads that are more likely to convert for your business. Check out more in-depth creative best practices.

Tip

Assess the quality of your assets and identify new opportunities to improve with ad strength. However, don’t remove any assets unless you’ve reached your maximum upload limits because underperforming ones will not serve as often and they may still perform well in certain auctions and contexts.

Tip

Include a video asset that’s at least ten seconds long to show your business in action. If you don’t have a video, Performance Max will automatically generate a high-quality one for you using your other assets. Based on internal data, advertisers that included at least 1 video of each orientation (horizontal, vertical, and square) to their Performance Max Campaigns delivered 20% more conversions in YouTube compared to horizontal videos alone.6

  • Enable Final URL expansion to expand your reach: Final URL Expansion uses landing pages on your website to match you to relevant queries and to dynamically customize headlines for your ads. Keep Final URL expansion on to maximize your reach and conversions on relevant search queries. Utilize URL exclusion rules if you have pages on your website that you need to exclude from sending traffic to.
  • Set up experiments to measure the impact of switching to Performance Max: The Experiments page helps you A/B test different features, settings, and campaigns to improve results for your business. If you’re curious about how Performance Max will perform for your business, you can use experiments to measure the incremental uplift of switching from Standard Shopping campaigns to Performance Max for online sales with a product feed. 

Case Study

Bombas logo

Bombas is an online apparel retailer focused on making the most comfortable socks, underwear and t-shirts. After experiencing success with Smart Shopping campaigns, they decided to test several of their core product categories on Performance Max campaigns. As a result, Bombas saw a 33% increase in conversion rate, 22% higher return on ad spend and 19% Improvement in cost per acquisition.

Note: In CSS Program Countries, Performance Max campaigns can be used with any Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) you work with. The ads will show on general search results pages and on any other surfaces the CSS has opted in to.

Learn more about how to optimize your Performance Max campaigns

Drive customer loyalty and business performance through your app with Web to App Connect and App campaigns

  • Create a seamless web-to-app experience with Web to App Connect

Why: Web to App Connect helps you establish deep linking, in-app conversion measurement and bidding to improve the customer experience and optimize your campaign performance. For customers who already have your app installed, Web to App Connect directs them from your web campaign to the relevant in-app page where they can easily complete their desired action. 

  • Reach your most valuable customers with App campaigns

Why: App campaigns tap into the full power of Google AI to promote your app across Google’s largest properties, all from a single campaign. Set up your campaign based on your business goals, such as driving app installs or re-engaging existing customers. By doing this, you can market your app to different types of users as your app’s business priorities change.

Examples of app campaigns across Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, Google Chrome

Learn more about how to drive customer loyalty with your app

Capture demand offline by using Performance Max campaigns with omnichannel goals & Performance Max campaigns with store goals

Why: By adding store and/or omnichannel goals, Performance Max campaigns help you promote your physical locations across Google and maximize your in-store value (using store visits or sales, and/or local actions).

  • Add your omnichannel goals: Use store visits or store sales goals in addition to your online goals to optimize for omnichannel shoppers and drive sales both online and in your brick-and-mortar locations. 
  • Add your store goals: Use Local actions, Store visits or Store sales goals to focus on promoting and growing only your in-store foot traffic and sales by advertising your locations to consumers across Google who are most likely to visit your stores.
    • Target your business locations: Use a minimum of 10 business locations and a wide distribution of stores in your campaign. Bid by location, automatically targeting shoppers near your stores who are likely to visit your business, by linking either your Business Profile or by associating a Location Group populated with locations from a location extension or affiliate location extension.
    • Set up a local feed: Include your store inventory, product descriptions, images, and prices to your local feed and connect it to your Performance Max for store goals campaign. Once set up, you will be able to easily promote your local products and showcase product-specific offers.

Note: In CSS Program Countries, Performance Max campaigns can be used with any Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) you work with. The ads will show on general search results pages and on any other surfaces the CSS has opted in to.

Learn more about connecting with local and omnichannel customers.


Illustrations of an upward arrow, bar graph, pi chart, and cash

3. Optimize your campaigns to drive more performance

  • Optimize your budget with Performance Planner

Why: Performance Planner lets you create plans for your advertising spend and assess how changes to campaigns might affect key metrics and overall performance. 

  • Understand your performance and customers with the Insights page.

Why: Featuring just-in-time trends and forward-looking insights, the Insights page in Google Ads gives you visibility into what’s driving your performance, while surfacing relevant trends in your market. By checking the Insights page often, you’ll be able to better understand how your customer interests and preferences are shifting. 

  • Apply recommendations to improve your performance 

Why: Recommendations can help you improve performance by surfacing the most impactful optimization opportunities based on your account's performance history, your campaign settings, trends across Google and more. Review your recommendations regularly to continuously identify new opportunities and apply recommendations that support your business goals

  • Check your optimization score to evaluate recommendations

Why: Each recommendation shows how much your optimization score, an estimate of how well your Google Ads account is set to perform, will be impacted when you apply it. Use optimization score to prioritize the recommendations that will have the biggest impact on performance. The score and recommendations are dynamic and tailored to your business, so it will reflect new recommendations as they arise, based on shifting demand and changes in the market. 

  • Improve product performance with Product insights

Why: The Product Issues column in the Products tab in Google Ads helps you understand the performance of individual products in your campaign and resolve potential issues that may be impacting your reach. From there, you can access insights to easily spot underperforming offers, identify products with missing feed attributes, and see how competitive your products' bids are.

  • Evaluate your product strategy with Merchant Center reporting

Why: Make inventory decisions and prioritize which products to show in your advertising campaigns with the best sellers report. With this information, you can improve your pricing and bidding strategies on top products using insights from the price competitiveness report. Use the Reporting API to ingest and analyze the data from these and other Merchant Center reports at scale.

Note

Check out the 2023 Global Google Retail Guide to explore a collection of useful tools, product recommendations, and consumer insights that will help you achieve your business and marketing objectives.

To hear from product specialists on driving consistent online sales amid changing consumer behavior, tune in to Google Ads Academy: Grow Profitable Online Sales

 

 

1. Google Internal Data
2. Google-commissioned Ipsos Consumer Continuous study, AU, BR, CA, CN, FR, DE, IN, IT, JP, KR, MX, ES, ZA, U.K., U.S., ~n=500–1,000 online consumers 18+ per market, July 7, 2022–July 10, 2022
3. Google-commissioned Ipsos Consumer Continuous study, AU, BR, CA, CN, FR, DE, IN, IT, JP, KR, MX, ZA, ES, U.K., U.S., ~n=500–1,000 online consumers 18+ per market, Nov. 10, 2022–Nov. 13, 2022.
4. Google Data, Global, Ads, October 2022 - March 2023.
5. Google data, Global, November 2022
6. Google data, Global, November 2022

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