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Get Ready Now for Google’s Showcase Shopping Ads

Steve Costanza

Here we go again. Google announced a new ad format for Google Shopping, called Showcase Shopping ads, that will surface for generic search queries.

Notice a trend here? Google continues to update Google Shopping with new features and ad formats to deliver on its promise of putting retailers’ products in front of the right consumers.

Showcase Shopping ads are available for all advertisers and display in 12 countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia. Here’s what you need to know in order to succeed with Showcase Shopping.

Welcome to the Show(case)

First, some background. Google Showcase Shopping ads are a pretty big departure from the traditional Shopping product listing ads (PLAs) that we all know and love.

Instead of individual products and their prices, Showcase ads will feature images of different products from one retailer, along with a short bit of copy. When a consumer clicks the Showcase ad, she will arrive at a special, Google-hosted landing page for the retailer that features a wide selection of products that correspond to her original search query.

Here’s a nifty animated walk-through from Google:

Advertisers will only be charged when a shopper clicks on a product on this landing page, not for clicks to the Showcase ads that brought the shopper there.

Shopping Around

So why is Google changing the game for generic search queries? Let’s start with the numbers: Google has found that more than 40% of shopping-related searches are for generic queries, such as “men’s shoes” or “women’s workout clothing.”

The shoppers searching for these queries are usually very early in the purchase journey — they’re probably seeing what’s out there and getting ideas, rather than looking for a certain item.

And returning a handful of very specific products for these types of queries is not particularly helpful for this early-stage buyer. Showcase ads promise to enhance the Shopping experience for retailers and consumers in several key ways:

  • Everyone likes to shop, and Showcase ads aim to replicate the feel of browsing through racks or shelves of products that match what consumers are looking for.
  • User experience matters more than ever these days. Showcase Shopping ads surface more useful results for Shoppers who are just beginning to hunt for a product — and increase the chance they will find the right product in Google Shopping.
  • Retailers have longed to control which products appear for which queries in Google Shopping. Showcase ads won’t offer a one-to-one product-to-query matching capability, but the premium version should give retailers greater ability to curate their Shopping offerings.
  • With more items to choose from, shoppers could be less likely to click an item based solely on price or due to lack of more desirable alternatives. Google Shopping delivers more qualified clicks and the broader selection of products enabled by Showcase ads could qualify these clicks even further.

The promise of Showcase ads is pretty darn clear. So how can retailers start preparing for the ad format’s impending arrival?

Start Your Engines

Though Showcase Shopping ads are just getting started, it’s not too soon to say that the winners of this new format will be the retailers that prepare and capitalize early.

Once the new ad format is available to all merchants, those 40% of searches for generic queries could quickly become occupied with first movers.

If you’re ready to jump in, here’s how you can be ready to rock as soon as Showcase Shopping ads are live:

1. It all starts with your product feed — make yours relevant. A clean, relevant product feed has long been the not-so-secret ingredient for cooking up Google Shopping success. And with the advent of Showcase ads, e-commerce marketers will want to be sure that their feeds feature descriptive, accurate information in the title, description, and product category fields to better enable Google to match products and ad groups with generic queries. 

2. Segment your generic search queries into a separate campaign — if you aren’t already. We’ve always advocated separating search queries in Google Shopping campaigns based on their value to your business, and Showcase ads have upped the stakes.

It’s those generic search queries that will trigger Showcase ads, so keeping them separate will allow you to more precisely adjust bids to win future auctions for Showcase ad real estate. Having separate campaigns will also help you stay ahead of the game by giving you a more accurate understanding of performance.

3. The same goes for mobile traffic. According to Google, Showcase Shopping ads are a “mobile-first” product. And while they might eventually find their way to desktop, Showcase ads will be exclusive to the mobile SERP to start. So it’s a good idea to begin segmenting your mobile traffic into its own campaign so that you can get even more granular when it comes time to bid and analyze your Showcase Shopping ads.

4. Finally, review your campaign structure for accuracy and organization. With Showcase Shopping ads, you might want to target and bid products or groups of products within your new campaign that correspond to popular broad search terms. If you do a little sprucing up now, you’ll find it easier to isolate those products or groups in your campaign when Showcase ads become available.

Since Showcase ads are still in the early beta stage, there’s no word yet on how advertisers will need to actually enable them in AdWords. However, Google’s announcement suggests that basic Showcase Shopping ads will be automated, while the premium, curated format will require a little more upfront work.

In the meantime, you can get ready for Showcase showtime by taking the steps above now. (They’ll also help improve your standard Google Shopping campaigns.) You can also start using two newer features for Google Shopping, RLSA and Customer Match, today. Learn how with our e-book Customer Match & RLSA for Google Shopping: The Ultimate Guide.


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