Google Merchant – Shopping in search results

In the recent years, Google Merchant (Google’s shopping campaign) has been one of the best solutions that online shops can employ to promote their offers in the Google search engine. Displaying product advertisents in the search results list, it makes the target client’s route to making a purchase in an online shop much quicker.


The advantages of Google Merchant

As I mentioned before, Google’s shopping functions allow the client to find an online shop’s products directly in the search results. With Google Merchant, the sellers can attract a bigger group of clients. This type of advertisement helps to reach the clients at the exact moment when they are looking for the product that interests them in the search engine.

There are activities that can help one to easily control the information about the products. Moreover, only the products that are currently available in our offer are displayed to the target client. With the use of the product’s photo and price, we can gain the client’s attention and positive reaction even at this stage.

What do you need to start a shopping campaign?

Starting a Google shopping campaign requires you to fulfill a set of „obligations” connected with your site’s settings. 

The first obligation is to have an SSL certificate installed on the server. Although this type of certificate is not necessary in order to run the store, it is recommended to use for the entire online shop and not only its shopping cart. The SSL certificate protects the client’s data (such as his contact data) via encryption.

The matter of safety has been touched upon in the Article 7 of the The Law on Provision of Electronic Services, in which the legislator obliges the service provider (an online shop) to make sure that the service recipients (the clients) are able to use the services „in a way that makes it impossible for unauthorized persons to gain access to the transfer that comprises the service”. Although the aforementioned article does not mention the necessity of employing an SSL certificate, it is currently one of the most effective tools for securing the client’s data.

Another mandatory step that has to be taken in order to start a shopping campaign is to create and adjust an Data Exchange file (usually in the XML format), which contains product information such as availability, name, price or photo. All of those parameters are described in this Google decoument.

It is important to remember that the Data Exchange file has to be updated at least once a day so that the advertisement contains an offer that is up-to-date with regard to availability as well as prices. Although many ready-made e-commerce systems contain a Google Merchant integration module, in the case of proprietary solutions the program’s author’s interference is necessary. Google itself delivers ready-made modules for the most popular shopping systems, but they are imperfect solutions.

The requirements listed above do not include optional solutions such as Google Analytics or the e-commerce conversion tracking module, as they are not necessary for the campaign; nevertheless, they are very helpful in running it and necessary in the process of constant optimalization.

Google Merchant’s Limitations

To protect their customers both within the Web and outside of it, Google blocks advertising certain groups of products. Among others, they are:

  • counterfeits
  • dangerous products (f.e. drugs, tobacco and arms and ammo)
  • products that help to perform illegal activities (f.e. hacking manuals or fake documents)
  • offensive products (f.e. ones that promote racist behaviors or animal trade)

Aside from the prohibited groups listed above, Google has a list of products and types of content that can only be advertised in a limited way. Those categories are:

  • adult content
  • alcohol
  • gambling-related content
  • healthcare-related content
  • political content
  • logos


Text advertisements as compared to a Google Merchant campaign

A significant difference can be noticed when comparing two types of campaign, text advertisents and Google Merchant. The screenshot below presents a comparison between two types of campaign. Both campaigns were run during the same time period. The first line presents the Google Merchant campaign, the second one – the text campaign.

Firstly, I would like to point out the average CPC (cost per click). In the case of text advertising it was twice as high as in the case of the Google Merchant campaign. What is more, in the case of Google Merchant the advertisements are appearing much more frequently. Thanks to this, the shop’s name and offer are starting to become a fixture in the client’s mind even at such an early stage.

Comparing the average shopping carts, the average value of a single order is subsequently 300,79 PLN for Google Merchant and 497,19 PLN for a text advertisement. Obviously, at this stage of analysis this is a disadvantage. The reason for this is simple. The clients who visit the shop through the traditional route make more purchasing decisions as they go through different categories. Google Merchant directs them to a particular product and the clients often do not examine the rest of the offer. Additional analysis of data allows us to notice that during their following purchases, the clients who have made their first purchase via Google Merchant have similar shopping carts as those who have examined a bigger part of the shop’s offer.

A Google Merchant campaign is right now the quickest way of starting to advertise the online shop’s offer in the search results. It is recommended for the small shops that have just entered the e-commerce world, as well as established shops that want to open themselves up to a new batch of clients.

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