The Google Shift To Free Product Listings And The Impact On Advertisers

Shopping Basket Online Shopping

by Amanda Butler

April 27, 2020

A few key tips for a proactive approach to this change

Google has announced a significant change to the way that the Shopping tab results will display (US only at this stage), moving away from showing solely paid ads to showing a mix of free and paid ads.  The majority of the Shopping results will now be free for merchants and paid ad positions will be limited to the top and bottom of the page.

With less available ad real estate on this tab, there is the potential for increased competition on this tab, especially on mobile devices.  For advertisers, it also heightens the importance of appearing in available Shopping real estate on the main search results tab and increases the importance of the Shopping ad exposure across other Google properties.  

We (unfortunately) don’t know the extent to which this change will end up impacting existing Shopping campaigns, but we do have a few best practice tips that can help to deliver an excellent Shopping campaign result, with either paid or free ads in the Shopping tab results.

Pro tip #1 – Campaign structure, campaign structure, campaign structure

Campaign structure, campaign structure, campaign structure.  We’re big believers that having the right structure sets the foundation for a successful campaign.  Because who doesn’t want to display the right product, at the right time, to the right searcher?  

So what is the optimal structure?  The unfortunate answer is that there is no hard and fast rule – it can differ between accounts and product offerings.  As a general approach, you want to be able to easily identify and ringfence high converting products and/or high converting search queries in order to achieve maximum visibility that will inform bid and budget management (wow, that was a real mouthful wasn’t it!).  This can mean structuring campaigns by brand vs generic queries, or perhaps by product category/product brand, or even by high/low margin products.  For example, we can create a general vs high-value campaign structure with ad groups broken out by Google product category that automatically updates as these attributes update:

Create a Shopping campaign structure using any product feed attribute – you can get as granular as you want!  The best thing is that this structure will update automatically as attributes change or products are added.

Sound complex?  It can be.  Sound time consuming?  Yes.  But, the great news is that you can automate the creation and ongoing management of any Shopping campaign structure with PPC Samurai, with no ongoing manual intervention from you.  Sounds like a lot of nerdy PPC fun, right?  Trust us, it is.

Pro Tip #2 – Maintain strong visibility across key search terms, particularly those that are high intent

With the potential for competition to increase, metrics like impression share will be key to understanding how your ads are competing in the market.  PPC Samurai can monitor impression share on a daily basis and alert you when it drops.  

Our workflows can test campaigns for lost search impression share (including loss of impressions due to rank and/or budget) and then alert you or take action when it finds an issue. 

Our workflows can also help to actively manage search queries (and negative keywords) between campaigns and ad groups to ensure that high converting keywords (like brand keywords) have enough budget and high enough bids to show all the time. 

We can also identify spikes in impressions for search queries that haven’t been recorded in the campaign before, alerting you to a potential new opportunity or allowing you to take immediate action if the search query is not desirable.

Let PPC Samurai do the hard work to keep an eye on search queries and alert you or take action when a new term pops up with a significant number of impressions

Pro Tip #3 – Expand to other channels to take any sting out of higher competition on the Shopping tab

If you haven’t yet, this could be a good opportunity to test Smart Shopping, which will serve Shopping ads across a variety of Google platforms.

This change has come into effect for the US only at the moment, with the rest of the world slated to change at the end of this year. If you’re interested in more information about any of the tips above reach out to us at – we’re here to help!

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