How to configure them

Google Shopping Ads are visual ads that appear when a user searches for a product on Google.

This is an example of Shopping ads when a user searches [pour over coffee].

Google search results page for pour over coffee with shopping adsScreenshot of a search [pour over coffee]. Author’s Notes, Google, August 2022

This ad format is exceptionally attractive. Display additional information relevant to online shoppers such as product titles, images, prices, special offers, seller names, local availability, reviews, and more.

What is the difference between Google Shopping Ads and Google Text Ads?

Google Shopping ads are displayed below the search bar, just like text ads, but because they are not limited to text, they attract more attention from users.

There are a few differences in how each ad format is handled, which we’ll cover below.

campaign types

To run Shopping ads, advertisers must enable specific types of Google Ads campaigns, such as a Shopping campaign, Smart Shopping campaign, or Performance Max campaign.

That’s different from text ads on Search, which are placed when you enable a Search campaign.

Please note that in summer 2022, Smart Shopping campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Performance Max campaigns and Smart Shopping campaigns will no longer exist. The process is expected to be completed by the end of September.

Much has been written about Performance Max campaigns, which are highly automated and can display ads across multiple Google Ads channels.

But since that’s not the focus of this post, when we talk about Performance Max here, we’ll focus on the part that places Shopping ads on search results pages.

All six channels of Performance Max campaigns will show ads onGoogle Image, August 2022


Targeting is also different between Search campaigns and Shopping campaigns.

Advertisers choose keywords to trigger ads in search campaigns.

For shopping ads, Google decides which product to show for a particular user query based on the product data in the feed.

Data like title, description, MPN, and product category automatically match generated ads to relevant keywords on the fly.

account structure

Advertisers can organize their Shopping ads by using product groups in Shopping campaigns or listing groups in Performance Max campaigns to tell Google which products to include in various campaigns, ad groups, or asset groups.

Structuring helps advertisers show more relevant creative in Performance Max and set better bids and budgets across all types of Shopping campaigns.

This is an example of product organization in two separate Performance Max campaigns.

table with two top-performing campaigns for different productsImage from, August 2022

Here is another simple example.

Let’s say an advertiser sells televisions and HDMI cables.

Cables have a higher margin than TVs, so they can be aggregated in a separate campaign with a more aggressive target return on ad spend (ROAS) than the lower margin TV campaign.

Of course, cables will be an upsell for many TV buyers, but dividing products by margin means a user looking for cables directly may get a different deal than those looking for TVs that may or may not add some cables to their purchase. .

The structure of text ads is simply based on campaigns that contain ad groups.

The ad group contains the keywords and the ads, so this is where the advertiser focuses on reinforcing relevance by writing ads that are closely related to the keywords.

Ad groups are combined into campaigns, where budgets and bid targets are usually set.

Keeping inventory tied to campaigns and the right products or listing groups can be tedious with both text ads and shopping ads.


The image below shows how Google Text Ads and Shopping Ads look when you search.

At the top, you have the Google Shopping ads. Below them, you can see the text ads.

In some cases, Shopping ads appear on the right side of the search results page.

Text ads are created by combining responsive search ads with ad extensions.

Google search results page with shopping ads, text ads and organic listings for ultra boost shoes 2022Screenshot of the search [ultraboost 2022]Author’s Notes, Google, August 2022

Shopping ads, on the other hand, are generated dynamically using data from multiple feeds in your connected Merchant Center account.

There are also ways to vary pricing by region by implementing regional availability of landing pages on your website.

Advertisers are encouraged to use all available advertising channels.

For that reason, eCommerce advertisers should run shopping ads and text ads (and probably several other types of ads on Google).

Text ads can be made more dynamic through the use of ad customizers or third-party solutions that create Responsive Search Ads (RSA) from structured business data.

landing pages

In search ads, keywords for specific products typically lead to a product detail page (PDP), while keywords for more generic product category searches typically lead to product listing pages (PLPs).

Here is an example:

  • Specific: Adidas Ultraboost 22. Landing page with the different sizes and colors of this particular shoe.
  • Generic: Running shoes. The landing page shows all the different types of running shoes.


While search campaigns can choose from all of the various bid strategies, including Maximize revenue or Target return on ad spend (tROAS), shopping ads almost always must use one of the two automated bid strategies mentioned above.

After all, the goal of Shopping ads should be to sell products, and these bidding strategies are more closely aligned with this goal.

However, advertisers should carefully consider how bidding strategy relates to business results.

For example, Maximizing conversion value is equivalent to maximizing revenue, and revenue maximization occurs when profit is zero. That might not be a desirable outcome for profit-focused advertisers.

That is where tROAS comes in and can be used as a lever to optimize profitability. But knowing the right tROAS that balances volume with profitability per order can be tricky; it is an art form in itself and somewhat covered here.

Are Google Shopping Ads Worth It?

If you are in e-commerce or retail, the short answer is yes!

Google Search is part of the customer journey for many online shoppers.

And Shopping ads let you be where potential customers are looking for things to buy.

Google Shopping Ads provide several other benefits that other Google campaign types do not.

Shopping ads offer the highest visibility in Google SERPs

Shopping ads offer higher brand visibility with higher impressions.

And since they appear at the top (with photos, reviews, and brands), more people can see your products.

Shopping ads have a higher click-through rate

As shown in the screenshots above, shopping ads have the highest priority in viewability over text ads and organic results.

That means shopping ads attract a good number of clicks, which is alluded to in Merkle’s Q3 2022 Media Performance Report, where “the majority of respondents [reported] experience increases in CPC and clicks Y/Y on text ads and shopping ads.”

Are Google Shopping Ads Free?

While there are paid shopping ads, Google announced in 2020 that businesses would be able to list their products for free on Google Shopping.

That’s different from Google Search, which is the default place a user goes when they navigate to

Google Shopping is located at or can be accessed by clicking the Shopping tab from Google’s top search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google Shopping works similarly to Google Search and contains a mix of organic and paid listings, with the paid listings displayed at the top.

Google Shopping search results for men's pantsScreenshot of the search [men’s athletic pants]Author’s Notes, Google, August 2022

Even though paid listings get the most impressions, you shouldn’t ignore the free listings setting.

Google lets potential customers see your products on Google sites like the Shopping tab, YouTube, Search, Images, and Google Lens.

To be eligible for free listings, make sure you follow the guidelines listed on this page.


Shopping ads, whether placed through Shopping campaigns or Performance Max campaigns, can drive a lot of activity for merchants, so they should be part of your strategy.

However, there are significant differences between how Search and Shopping ads are optimized, so it’s worth knowing the differences and approaching each type of campaign differently.

More resources:

Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

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