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How to structure a Shopping campaign in Google Ads

Key take-aways

Shopping campaigns in Google Ads connect retail business owners with potential customers online and reduce friction when users are deciding where to shop. Shopping ads placed through this type of campaign allow retail advertisers to easily showcase products to prospective customers who are searching for their products. Discover how to create a Shopping campaign below.

1. What are Shopping ads?

2. Why use Shopping ads?

3. How to manage your inventory for Shopping ads

4. Best practices for creating Shopping campaigns

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is an advertising service by Google for businesses that want to display ads on Google search results and its advertising network.

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1. What are Shopping ads?

Shopping ads act as a matchmaker between retail advertisers and online shoppers. Retail business owners can create a Shopping campaign by uploading their inventory to the Merchant Centre and connecting the account to their Google Ads account. Once enabled, their products can show when customers search for their products on Google’s sites and networks.

When products are relevant to the keywords of a prospective customer’s search, an image of the item is shown along with other relevant information, like price and the product’s brand. In this way, products are advertised to Google users when they search the internet on both desktop and mobile.

Google Display Network:

A group of more than 2 million websites, videos, and apps where your ads can appear.

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2. Why use Shopping ads?

Shopping ads display information that potential customers want to know about products to help them decide whether to make a purchase. This quick snapshot makes it seamless for Google users to browse through products and compare similar items, and retail business owners only pay for when users click through to their site.

Potential customers that arrive at your e-commerce store from a Shopping ad may be more ready to buy than other potential customers. Somebody searching for designer shoes, for example, will see your product alongside other retail advertisers in their search results. If they click your ad, they're taken directly through to the product page on your website to learn more.


A set of ad groups (ads, keywords, and bids) that share a budget, location targeting, and other settings. Campaigns are often used to organise categories of products or services that you offer.

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3. How to manage your inventory in Merchant Center for Shopping ads

The success of a Shopping campaign is determined by how relevant your products are to the potential customers who see your ads. When a user searches, Google shows ads from Shopping campaigns with related products and shipping locations, prioritising those that offer the highest bids for ad space. Providing potential customers with everything they need to know about your products is a surefire way to make your inventory of Shopping ads more effective. It’s important to refine this information in Merchant Center to be as helpful and direct as possible.

A sportswear retailer in Coventry, for example, may find that the Shopping ads for its women's shirts aren't producing many sales. This could be because it's not immediately clear to shoppers what size the shirts are, or whether they're for men or women. Rewriting the product title and description to state the brand, colour, size and style clearly will make potential customers feel more confident that they've found what they want. The sportswear shop can also define negative keywords such as “mens", so their ads aren't shown to users searching for a different gender.

Promoting ads based on their product’s brand name can be a good way for retail advertisers to improve the performance of their Shopping campaigns. Online shoppers often use brand names when searching for products, so retail businesses owners should include that information in their Shopping ad where relevant. Putting the product’s brand in the title and its description may help it stand out from other options.

For example, a hardware store in Sheffield may decide to use Shopping ads to promote its power drills. Including the brand “Bosch” in the product title and description will make it more relevant to online shoppers that are specifically looking for Bosch power drills. Shoppers that see the listing will be more confident that the product is exactly what they're searching for and may be readier than others to place an order.

Shopping ad

A type of ad that features detailed information about specific products that you sell. Shopping ads can refer to Product Shopping ads, which feature just one product, or Showcase Shopping ads, which feature several related products.

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4. Best practices for creating Shopping campaigns

Shopping ads help businesses advertise their products whether they're a small boutique with just a handful of products or a one-stop-shop with thousands of items in their inventory. Whatever the size of your business, it's important to fine-tune your ads for different products and audiences to ensure you're making the most of your budget.

The easiest way to get started is to create a Smart Shopping campaign. This campaign subtype will automatically optimise your bids, products and audiences so you can show the right ad to the right potential customer at the right time. That way, you can drive the most sales for your budget. If the requirements for Smart Shopping campaigns cannot be achieved, retail businesses can create a Standard Shopping campaign. Initially, their entire inventory will be managed in a single group called "All products". For businesses with fewer products, this might work well. From there, however, it's also possible to categorise products into smaller, more specific groups.

A health food store in Stevenage, for example, might split their inventory into beverages, protein bars and savoury snacks. Categorising is helpful because it allows you to specify and adjust bids for different product types quickly and easily.

After some experimentation, the health food store may find that users rarely buy the drinks they advertise through Shopping ads, but that protein bars are selling well. To ensure the business's ad spend is used as effectively as possible, the owner could re-allocate its budget from beverages to protein bars. Instead of having to manually optimise every item in the inventory, adjusting bids, products and audiences just takes a few clicks.

Shopping ads increase the visibility of your products across Google’s sites and networks and provides potential customers with a visual and relevant way to see what you offer. This provides potential customers with all of the information they need, right when and where they need it, encouraging them to shop with you instead of your competition.

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