Best Practices for Leveraging Shopping Ads in 2020

A recent article in Search Engine Journal featuring predictions for PPC trends in 2017 indicated that Shopping Ads are going to be top of mind for PPC experts this year. And we couldn’t agree more. Over the last year, Google has quietly expanded impression share for shopping ads, also known as product listing ads or PLA. As a result, advertisers have seen their Shopping ads review more and impressions, particularly on mobile devices. With Google throwing some weight behind Shopping Ads, there’s never been a better time to invest in a PLA strategy as part of your digital advertising efforts.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best practices for leveraging Shopping Ads to help you get the best results from your PLA and take advantage of this booming PPC space.

Invest in Quality Product Images

In an age where every person with a smartphone has access to a high-quality camera, and where visually-focused websites like Pinterest and Instagram rule the web, it’s critical to use appealing, high-resolution images on your ads. Failing to do so can even cost you business. A study by Live Person found that 56% of online customers will abandon items in their shopping cart if there is a lack of product information — including poor quality or missing images.

Investing in a professional photography service to highlight your products may be the ideal scenario, but even simply taking the time to photograph your products in good lighting, with a decent camera and a steady hand, can provide a significant ROI.

Use Negative Keywords Strategically

Using negative keywords appropriately can help you hone in on your audience and avoid search advertising disasters. But negative keywords can be an equally useful tool for optimizing your shopping ads. Shopping ads can be especially susceptible to displaying the wrong results.  from missing the mark entirely (Apple electronics vs. fruit) or serving simply the incorrect category of item (dress shoes vs. athletic shoes).  If left unchecked, these incorrect search matches can sap away your budget and ruin campaign performance.

Use negative keywords strategically to improve the accuracy of your PLA campaigns and reach your audience more effectively. The exact list of negative keywords that you use will depend on your industry and business needs, but be sure to refer to our list of common negative keywords as a starting point. There are many strategies for building out your keyword list, such as using Google’s Keyword Planner to identify keywords you don’t want to show results for. By working with a knowledgeable PPC management team to develop your keyword strategy, you will be able to build a comprehensive negative keyword list more quickly.

Leverage Benchmark Data to Adjust Your Bids

In addition to the metrics served for Search Ads, Google also provides benchmark CTR and benchmark CPC data for Shopping ad campaigns. These metrics use anonymized data from advertisers similar to you to provide information about the average performance of ads like yours. Benchmark data can be an important tool for Shopping Ads strategy. By leveraging this data to inform how you raise or lower your bids, you can have more assurance that your ads are performing up to par with your competition. This can help you to stay competitive and visible to your target audience without overspending or underspending on your campaigns.

Go Granular with Product Groups

A high level of granularity is available for AdWords PLA product groups, and advertisers can subdivide their product groups into up to seven subdivisions. Product group subdivisions can be defined by a number of set attributes, including everything from your internal item ID to the condition (used, new or refurbished) of the item.

Successful ecommerce PPC can often require identifying the right descriptors for your products that match the search terms used by your audience. The more granular and specific you can make your ad and product groups, the better they will perform. By leveraging subdivision attributes effectively, your ads will have a greater chance of being served to the correct audience. 

Manage Shopping Ads Bids Actively

Active bid management is key for the same reason that creating specific, granular ad groups is — your audience’s behavior can vary from product to product, and your campaigns should be structured to capture each one as effectively as possible. Because of the potential for variability in your Shopping Ad campaigns, managing your bids actively is important to their success. A neglected bidding strategy can easy run up PPC costs and waste your advertising resources on impressions that go nowhere.

Actively managing your bids can be daunting, especially for complex Shopping Ads. If you don’t have a dedicated PPC manager at your business, you may not have the time and resources needed to appropriately manage your Shopping Ad campaigns. Working with a dedicated PPC management firm that can afford to devote its full-time resources to your advertising needs is often the best way to manage your bidding strategy and see the results you need from your PLA campaigns.

Give Your Shopping Ads a Boost with Webrageous

Our PPC management team has extensive experience managing PLA campaigns. Whether you’re new to Shopping Ads and want to explore it as an option for expanding your online presence, or if you’re a seasoned advertiser aiming for better optimization, Webrageous’ team can help you improve your PPC strategy and leverage shopping ads more effectively. Contact us today to learn more about our PPC management services.

Image Source: Pixabay


Should Ecommerce Merchants Opt for Shopping Ads Over Text Ads?

ecommerce ppc

While many companies use online advertising to promote products and increase sales, ecommerce merchants have the advantage of being able to sell directly to consumers online, adding another dimension to their digital advertising goals. If you’re an ecommerce merchant placing PPC ads via Google Adwords, you might not be taking full advantage of your digital advertising options. If you haven’t considered incorporating shopping ads (PLA) into your Adwords PPC campaigns, it’s time to reconsider your online advertising strategy.

Understanding the Ecommerce PPC Landscape

The two main digital advertising spaces that ecommerce merchants should be concerned with are text ads and shopping ads. You can manage both from your Google Adwords account, but they serve different purposes and are different in some key ways.

Text Ads – Text ads are the conventional text-only PPC ads you see with search marketing advertising campaigns. They include a link to your website or landing page, a few lines of copy, and perhaps a few other perks in the case of mobile ads. Text ads give you more precise, granular control over when your ads show up, but for many industries they can be highly competitive, and they don’t always stand out well in the sea of text people see in their search results.


Shopping Ads – Shopping Ads, also known as product listing ads (PLA), are a type of ad tailored towards online merchants. They include a product image and are driven by products and product categories, rather than keywords. For serious online merchants, this one of the best means of getting your products in front of people who are looking to buy them.

Text ads vs Shopping Ads Search


Do Shopping Ads or Text Ads Perform Better?

To get a better sense of how each type of ad performs, we pulled the numbers from one of our long-running campaigns for a client in the ecommerce space. The results are a fairly good representation of how most similarly structured campaigns perform. We found that the CTR was better for text ads, most likely because text ads give advertisers greater control over the keyword matching, so they were more likely to be a good fit with the search terms used by consumers. However, our client saw better conversion rate, conversion cost, and CPC with Shopping Ads compared to text search ads. The bottom line is that shopping ads perform very well for ecommerce.

These results line up with the digital marketing activities of some of the biggest online retailers. Walmart puts over 70% of their digital ad spend into PLAs, and companies like Best Buy, Staples and follow suit with PLA-heavy online advertising budgets. The question is, why are these shopping ads performing so much better than text-based PPC campaigns?

Why Shopping Ads Click for Ecommerce Ad Campaigns


1. Better Brand Recognition with PLA

Shopping ads win out when it comes to leveraging brand name searches. A recent case study for Heal’s furniture showed the benefits of leveraging your branding to get conversions. Heal’s, a well-established furniture brand, spent years sinking their digital ad spend into text ad campaigns that weren’t converting. Heal’s study showed that conversion rates for brand related searches are as much as 26% higher for shopping ads than for text ads. By focusing their advertising efforts on product listing ads, Heal’s was able to leverage their brand name to drive more sales. For merchants looking to leverage branded products to increase sales, PLA is a better option.

2. Spread Your Ad Spend Across the Buying Cycle

As purchasing decisions get more complex and expensive, consumers tend to spend more time researching and reviewing their options before making a decision. Oftentimes text ads land in front of searchers who are still in the early stages of the buying cycle, and who may not be ready to make a purchase yet. Since the people who are served PLAs tend to already be looking to purchase items, rather than just researching them and looking for information, they are a better bet when it comes to actually making a purchase.

3. A Picture’s Worth…

The benefit of the more visually appealing shopping ad format shouldn’t be underestimated. Studies show that people are 40% more likely to engage with visual content than text-only content, leading to a higher conversion rate for visually appealing ads. Another downside of text ads for ecommerce is that merchants have limited character space to describe their product. By providing shoppers with an eye-catching photo of your product, you can boost your descriptive power and compensate for having minimal text space.

Getting the Best Results from Your Ecommerce Ad Campaigns

Don’t start canceling your text ad campaigns quite yet. They’re a powerful, flexible way to reach buyers and still perform well when managed correctly. While many successful retailers are turning to shopping ads,, another huge online retailer, puts all their stock in text ads. Text ads are still a high-performing way to reach customers. Furthermore, if you move a very low volume each month, shopping ads aren’t always a great fit.

Text Ads vs Shopping Ads

However, for many ecommerce merchants, the importance of diversifying your PPC spend with shopping ads can’t be understated. Product listing ads provide a straightforward way for merchants to reach customers, and they can give your ad campaigns a big performance boost. Many large retailers have some level of a mix between the two form of ads in order to take advantage of both spaces.

The strongest solution for a healthy ecommerce PPC strategy is to employ a mix of shopping ads and text ads. Text ads give you more control over your audience, while shopping ads help you hone in on searchers who are ready to make a purchase. Balancing your advertising efforts between the two advertising methods can help you maximize your PPC results. By playing around with your ad spend for both PLA and text-based ads, you can find the right mix of each ad type to get the best overall returns for your advertising dollar.

Building Shopping Ads into Your PPC Strategy with Webrageous

Webrageous has extensive experience managing both PLA shopping and text ad campaigns for clients in a number of industries. If you’re interested in exploring product listing advertising options, we can help you determine whether shopping ads are a good fit for your company, and how you can incorporate them into your existing web advertising campaigns. With Webrageous you can find the right balance between shopping ads and text ads to make sure that your ecommerce business can stay competitive in the digital advertising market. Contact us today to see what our expertise can bring to your PPC campaigns.

Image Source: Pixabay