Google Shopping – Is It Worth It?

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Like a lot of Google AdWords features, NZ tends to be a little bit behind in getting our hands on them; however, we’re now several months in to the launch of Google Shopping after its release earlier in the year. Google Shopping ads are the image ads displayed to the right of, or above, text ads and organic listings in the SERP’s.

Google Search Results Page

As the screenshot above illustrates, these ads are very prominent on the search results page and are hard to miss. On mobile devices, shopping ads can often account for almost all of the available above the fold real estate. It’s reasonable to assume that if a user clicks through on a shopping ad after seeing an image and price; they like the look of what your product and think that the price is reasonable – thus you’re driving qualified traffic with Google Shopping.

A massive benefit that we’re seeing for our ecommerce clients is that the level of competition on Google Shopping is much less than that of Google Search; largely due to either:

  1. the perceived complexity of set up being a road block, or,
  2. the fact that in order to be eligible to run Google Shopping ads you must display prices and sell your products on your website.

The latter effectively cuts out any competitors who run search campaigns but aren’t ecommerce retailers (e.g. subscription services, has quote based pricing etc.); meaning that unless those competitors change their business models, shopping campaigns will always be that much cheaper for ecommerce competitors. The reduced level of competition means that when compared to search campaigns the average CPC, and therefore spend, is much lower. This combined with similar conversion rates equates to a much higher ROI.

Take the two examples below with data pulled from current clients; Google Shopping campaigns are achieving CPCs up to 78% lower and ROI up to 224% higher than their comparative non-brand search campaigns.

Google Shooping vs. Google Search - Client A

Google Shooping vs. Google Search - Client B

But is it all sunshine and daisies? Well, yes and no.

With shopping campaigns there is much less control over which products are shown for particular search queries; as it is up to Google to determine which product(s) in your data feed it deems most suited to a users’ search. You might therefore see that the products showing aren’t necessarily your best sellers or highest margin products. There is ways around this as you can utilise custom labels and other filtering options to implement higher bids for products you’d like showing more often (e.g. high margin) which is where you can really boost the ROI on shopping campaigns.

You’ll also most likely see that generic searches such as “shoes” perform differently to product focused searches such as “nike air max shoes” as the searcher is at different stages in the funnel. Rather than blowing your budget in one shopping campaign that ends up capturing more generic searches, you can segment campaigns based on intent which allows you to then put more budget and bid more aggressively for search queries that indicate someone is further down in the funnel and therefore more likely to convert.

Maintaining an optimised data feed is also key to strong shopping performance – it’s not something to ‘set and forget’!


So, is Google Shopping worth the work? With ROI over 200% stronger than that of search; yes, yes it is!


Tessa has years of experience in data analysis and number crunching, following the completion of a Bachelor of Commerce with majors in both Finance and Economics. Since discovering the ever changing, complex, and data driven world of digital marketing and SEM she’s never looked back. Tessa currently manages campaigns for clients across a range of industries; specialising in the management of both lead acquisition and e-commerce campaigns. Finding the sweet spots to maximise the return for clients is all in a days work.

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