Shopping Campaigns in Google Ads help you generate more sales for your ecommerce store. Use this step-by-step guide to get started.

Here, you’ll find:

With more than 31% of consumers using Google to find new products online, Google Shopping Ads are a highly effective way to attract new customers to your site.

But if you’re new to creating Shopping campaigns in Google Ads, there can be a bit of a learning curve.

Let’s explore what Google Shopping campaigns are and how to use them to grow your ecommerce business this year. We’ll also walk you through how to create your own campaign step by step.

What are Shopping campaigns in Google Ads?

Shopping campaigns in Google Ads are digital ads that appear in Google search results when users search for product-related keywords and phrases. Google Shopping Ads help ecommerce retailers reach more shoppers searching for similar products.

Since they’re visual (compared to text ads), search engine users are more likely to click on them more often.

For example, when you type in “bathing suits,” you’ll see Google Shopping Ads (aka Product Listing Ads or PLAs) at the top of the search results page:

Google Shopping Ads example

A unique feature of Shopping campaigns is the filter menu on the side and the buttons at the top of the page. You can select between type, size, style, and other characteristics to narrow the search results:

Google Shopping Ads filter

Using Google Shopping ads to boost organic SEO results

Ecommerce brands can also appear in Google Shopping organic results. These appear in the middle of the search results as you’re scrolling:

organic shopping listings

You can use your Google Shopping campaigns to boost organic Google product results.

“When you optimize Shopping feeds and feed attributes, such as product titles, descriptions, and so on, it has a positive impact on your paid shopping ads, and it’ll help you rank better for organic shopping placements, too,” says Rachel Corak, lead strategist at HawkSEM.

Here’s an example of how PPC and organic product listings appear in search:

How does Google Shopping work?

Google Shopping allows ecommerce retailers to create product listings that appear in the Google paid and organic search results. You create your product listings using a data feed, which is a file containing all the details about your products, such as title, price, product images, and description.

There are two ways to create a data feed: manual entry (or uploading a CSV file) or automated upload (via Google Merchant Center). After uploading your data feed, you can create your Google Shopping campaign.

Here, you’ll bid on a product ad group relevant to your product type, instead of search queries, like in a traditional PPC campaign.

When someone searches for a product or product category, Google will display the Shopping Ads that match the query. This makes it easy for shoppers to find what they need and encourages them to click through to your landing page to view and purchase the product.

To keep track of campaigns, you can connect your Google Analytics account to monitor the performance of each product group.

Performance Max campaigns vs. Standard Shopping campaigns

If you’ve done a little digging into Google Ads campaigns, you likely came across Performance Max campaigns, which replaced Smart Shopping campaigns. It’s a new option for ecommerce sellers to automate their ad campaigns.

Here’s a simple breakdown of Performance Max campaigns vs standard Shopping campaigns:

“Standard shopping campaigns are the traditional style campaigns that serve in the Google Shopping carousel either at the top or on the right panel within the SERP,” explains Corak.

“Performance Max is a hybrid placement campaign that can serve in shopping and across all placements within Google properties. That means it can also serve in Search Network, Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, etc.”

The question now is which is better to use?

“Standard Shopping campaigns provide greater control, and you know exactly where and how your ads are showing,” Corak continues.

Performance Max, on the other hand, provides less control but uses Google’s advanced algorithm to serve your ads to the right people when and where it matters.

In other words, both offer a ton of value for your campaigns.

“I recommend testing both and seeing which works better for the account,” advises Corak. “I never go for a ‘one size fits all’ approach, it’s all about testing.”

Benefits of using Shopping campaigns in Google Ads

Like any digital ad, Shopping campaigns allow brands to get their products in front of customers within minutes of hitting publish.

Google Ads Shopping campaigns also make it easy to target the right audience. And can even be automated using Google’s algorithm, which optimizes the campaign for better results (clicks and conversions).

Here are just a few of the benefits of using Google Shopping Ads:

  • Meet shopper intent: When someone searches for your product, they’re looking to buy, which increases the odds of them making a purchase that day or sometime soon.
  • Reach a larger audience: You can use Shopping campaigns in Google Ads to target shoppers worldwide, allowing you to reach more potential customers.
  • Increase visibility: Shopping campaigns make it easier for your products to stand out in search results, increasing the chance of shoppers clicking on and purchasing them.
  • Easily track performance: With Google Ads Shopping campaigns, you can easily track how well your product ads are performing and make adjustments as needed.
  • Cost-effective advertising: Shopping campaigns are generally more cost-effective than other forms of digital advertising, making them an attractive option for businesses with limited budgets.
  • Targeted ads: Shopping campaigns allow you to target specific audiences based on their interests and demographics, ensuring that your ads reach the right people at the right time.

Building Shopping campaigns is easy — getting people to click on your ads… that’s another story. And it all starts with a strategy.

How to set up Google Shopping ads

It’s time to set up your first Google Shopping Ads campaign. Here’s an overview of what you need to do to complete the setup:

  1. Create Google Ads and Google Merchant Center accounts
  2. Choose your campaign type in Google Ads
  3. Decide your budget and bidding strategy
  4. Design your Shopping ad

Let’s start from the top.

Step 1: Create Google Ads and Google Merchant Center accounts

To begin, sign up for a Google Ads account and follow the guided steps. Then head over to Google Merchant Center to register your account.

The Merchant Center is where you’ll manage all your Google Shopping product details. The process is easier if you have a Shopify or BigCommerce store — you can connect them directly to Google Merchant Center to automatically create your product feed.

If you don’t have a compatible ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, then you’ll have to manually create your feed.

Note that your product data is “live” on Google Merchant Center. This is where you’ll insert information about your products, such as:

  • Product ID you use for that specific product
  • Name of your product
  • Description of your product
  • Category of your product (e.g., apparel, shoes, home decor)
  • Type of product (based on your definition)

Step 2: Choose your campaign type in Google Ads

Log into your Google Ads account, and click the “+ Create” in on the left panel. In the dropdown, choose “Campaign.”

Google Ads Campaign

Then select “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance.”

Google Ads campaign objective

Then, select “Shopping.”

Google Shopping ad campaign

Next, select the conversion goals and the Merchant Center account. For a typical ecommerce campaign, your conversion goal should be “Purchases.”

Google Ads conversion goal

The next window will default to create a Performance Max campaign. You can run Shopping through Performance Max, but if you want to create a Shopping campaign that only serves on Shopping placements, select Standard Shopping campaign.

Google Ads campaign subtype

Then move on to naming your campaign, setting your budget, and creating the ad (skip to step 4). If you decide you want to test the Performance Max campaign, then the next step will be to name your campaign.

Step 3: Decide your budget and bidding strategy

Now, it’s time to get down to business.

Pmax campaign 2

Insert how much you want to spend on the campaign daily and whether you want to focus on conversions (quantity) or conversion value (quality).

When you select “Conversion value,” it’ll focus on getting a higher click-through rate (CTR) from people who spend more money when they convert.

If you choose “Conversions” as the goal, it’ll focus on getting more conversions (no matter the value of those conversions). Remember, this is an automated campaign, so choose based on how you want the platform to bid on your behalf.

Once you’re done, click Next to be taken to your campaign settings.

Pmax campaign 3

Here, you’ll choose the country you want your ads to appear in and the language of your customers. Then you can leave it at that or click “More settings” to choose your ad schedule.

Here, you’ll choose whether you want your ads to appear 24 hours a day or between the times you select.

If your campaign starts and ends on specific dates (such as sale dates), include it here. When you’re finished, click Next.

Step 4: Design your Shopping ad

Now for the fun part: building your ad!

Pmax campaign 4

Here, you’ll add all your assets and content for the ad, which will include:

  • Images (2-20)
  • Logos (1-5)
  • Videos (up to five)
  • Headlines (3-5)
  • Long headlines (up to 5)
  • Descriptions (2-4)
  • Business name
  • Site links (2-4)
  • Call to action (select one from the list or have it automatically pick)

You can preview your ad as you go to see how it’ll look in Search or another platform like YouTube, Display, Gmail, or Discover.

After you’re satisfied with the look, click Next to review your input to ensure accuracy, and then hit Publish.

5 expert tips for maximizing revenue with Google Shopping campaigns

If you aren’t getting the results you want from your Google Shopping campaigns or your CTRs and conversion rates have plateaued, try these tips from our in-house industry pros for maximizing revenue with Google Shopping Ads:

  1. Optimize your product feed
  2. Create promotions in Google Merchant Center
  3. Add negative keywords
  4. Use high-quality ad images
  5. Leverage Google Shopping ad extensions

1. Optimize your product feed

Properly optimize your product feed using descriptive product titles, high-quality images, detailed product descriptions, and relevant keywords.

Remember, even though Google Shopping Ads are image-driven, the copy still needs to be relevant, descriptive, and accurate.

Make sure that you’ve completed all fields within the product feeds, including ID, title, link, price, and description. To make sure your product feed is up-to-date, use automated fetching to update the prices, titles, and photos automatically.

2. Create promotions in Google Merchant Center

Promotions are a great way to attract more potential customers to your website. There are a few ways to create promotions in Google Merchant Center:

Promotion builder

Use the promotion builder in the “Promotions” dashboard of Google Merchant Center. This allows you to enter individual promotions manually, so it’s best used if you only have a small number of promotions.

It supports the following types of promotions:

  • Amount off
  • Percent off
  • Free gift
  • Free shipping

You can specify spend thresholds, discount amounts, gift descriptions, and more. Just follow the prompts to get started.

Promotions feed

You also have the option to create a promotions feed, a spreadsheet that contains all your online promotions. This is ideal for those with a high volume of promotions.

To get started, make sure you enroll in Merchant Promotions. Then, go to “Promotions feeds” in the upper right-hand corner of the “Promotions” dashboard.


If you’re using Shopify or WooCommerce to sell products, you can connect your product discounts from these third-party platforms to your Merchant Center account.

3. Add negative keywords

Exclude keywords that aren’t benefitting your campaigns. To do this, add negative keywords that don’t align with the audience you’re trying to reach.

To add negative keywords, choose your campaign on the “All Campaigns” page, then click “Keywords. Once there, you can add any keywords you want to exclude.

You’ll have the option to exclude them at the Ad Group or Campaign level. The option you choose depends on how you set up your campaign initially.

Not sure which keywords to exclude? Click on the “Search Terms” tab next to the negative keywords tab on the same page. This will show you all the search terms people have used to come across your ads. Look at these words to find those you want to exclude.

This list of search terms also gives you some insight into writing better product descriptions. For example, let’s say people are searching for “genuine leather computer bags,” and your listing only mentions “leather computer bags.”

This data shows that people find the descriptor “genuine” to be important when shopping for a leather computer bag. Update your product description to ensure it uses the term “genuine” when describing your product.

4. Use high-quality ad images

When you first set up your campaign, be sure to use compelling photos of your products to drive eyes and clicks to your listings. The photos should be close-up shots that are well-lit with a white background.

Once your campaign starts, if you find you aren’t generating a lot of clicks, you may want to change the image. Take a look at other product ads in your category for inspiration on the types of images to include.

5. Leverage Google Shopping ad extensions

Google Shopping ad extensions help your brand stand out and capture the attention of your audience.

The more information you provide on your products, the more information buyers have to make a purchasing decision. Ad extensions help you add additional details that might just be the difference between someone scrolling by or clicking through and buying.

Here are just a few of the ad extensions you can take advantage of:

Product ratings

You already know how powerful social proof can be in helping you sell your products. Why not use this to your advantage on your Google Shopping ads?

The product ratings ad extension displays aggregated reviews from the web, including your website and third-party review sites. The extension displays a star rating below the product with a number in parentheses that indicates the number of reviews.

Product ratings Google Ad extension

Shipping labels

There’s nothing more enticing to an ecommerce customer than free shipping. Using the shipping labels ad extension, you can display your shipping policy at the bottom of the product listing.

Shipping label Google Ads

Return policy

Return policy is an important part of an ecommerce customer’s purchasing decision. Using the return policy label, you can specify your return policy so that customers can see it immediately.

Return policy annotation Google ads

Sale and price drop annotations

The Sale Price and Price Drop annotations can be used to draw attention to the product’s reduced price. The Sale Price annotation displays the word “SALE” in the top right corner of the image. And the Price Drop annotation displays “PRICE DROP.”

Use the Sale Price annotation when the product’s price is temporarily lower due to a current promotion. Use the Price Drop annotation when the price has been permanently reduced.

Sale annotation Google ad extension

Are Google Shopping campaigns worth the investment?

With the right strategy, Google Shopping campaigns can boost traffic and revenue for your online store. We’ve seen this happen time and time again with our own clients.

For example, one of our clients saw substantial year-over-year (YoY) gains from a Google Shopping campaign we managed. The result:

  • 13% increase in revenue
  • 70% decrease in ad cost
  • 274% increase in return on ad spend

We built a campaign focused on the brand’s top sellers, and we saw our top revenue-driving campaign recently in terms of full attribution revenue. And it was the second-highest revenue-driving campaign in terms of the last click.

How do we drive success for our clients? It’s a combination of experience and having the right tools. HawkSEM’s proprietary software, ConversionIQ gives us all the data we need to help our customers increase campaign conversions.

It does this in several ways, like targeting top keywords used by the best customers (higher-value buyers). We optimize campaigns based on this information and run experiments to maximize results.

The takeaway

Selling products online is competitive — this isn’t news. So unless you’re selling something very specific, like shoes for baby goats (it’s a real product, and it’s spectacular), there are likely hundreds or even thousands of sellers vying for your customer’s attention.

With Google Shopping campaigns, you can direct more traffic to product pages you know your customers are searching for. It’s a proven method for driving higher conversion rates and revenue for ecommerce businesses.

Need help getting started? Book a consult to see how the PPC experts at HawkSEM can support you.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation