We all love a bargain, and shopping online is the most effective way of finding one. With a few clicks, you can visit dozens of shops without leaving the comfort of your armchair, and the internet has also enabled another fantastic tool: the comparison website. Hotel rooms, insurance policies, properties, you can browse products and services through a single website to get the best possible deal.
As the largest search engine, Google wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to make the most of its dominant position and of the huge amount of data it collects. In 2002, it launched Google Shopping, then known as Google Product Search, which used its web crawler to index products from vendors’ websites, free of charge, and served them on the first page of search results.
In 2012, Google announced that it would monetise the tool and that vendors would now have to pay to have their products listed, with results determined by relevance and bid amounts, like with Adwords. While this move was controversial due to the fact that it was feared that only retailers with deep pockets would benefit from it, it was nevertheless rolled out to a significant number of countries, not including, shockingly, our beautiful New Zealand.
Google has now realised the error of its ways and remedied the situation by launching the programme in New Zealand at the end of last year, although without fanfares or drum rolls: it was originally planned to be available in NZ years ago so it may well be that the internet giant was simply embarrassed by the delay – as it should!
Why you should take heed
The vast majority of us shop around before committing to a purchase, so displaying relevant products at the point where people are at their most receptive, with a direct link to the relevant webpage, offers enormous potential to retailers.
Products listed appear towards the top of the search results page, ahead of all-text Adwords, filling precious first-page space and grabbing people’s attention with a picture. Price, the name of the seller and star rating complete this thumbnail-size preview to potential buyers. With 100 billion searches a day according to Google, 15% of them being new, why wouldn’t you want to join?
In addition, there is no need to pour over keywords: Google will automatically choose your products most relevant to a search term.
When shoppers then move onto a comparison page for a product, they can apply various filters and sorting criteria to purchase the product they are looking for from the seller that matches their need best. While some worry that it will give big companies an unfair advantage, it is nevertheless a fantastic opportunity for smaller businesses to compete with the big boys and be visible in very targeted searches.
How does it work?
To take part in this programme, you will, first of all, need a Google merchant account which you can create here.
You will then have to populate your account with your products’ information through a product data feed. If you are a conscientious business owner – of course you are! – you will already have all this on your website and will only need to ‘copy + paste’. If you haven’t, it’s never too late to create new content and kill two birds with one stone: not only will you improve your website, but you will also make your business Google ready.
These data feeds translate your product information into a format that Google can read and process, and constitute what Google indexes when it searches for products that match search terms.
How to segment your bids
As it is a pay-per-click model, you will only be charged when a shopper clicks on the Product Listing Ad and is taken to your website, not for each impression, which means that you should aim for product descriptions that are specific enough to attract traffic likely to convert into sales, without being so specific that your products hardly ever come up.
Thanks to Google Merchant Centre, you can segment your campaigns without losing out on traffic. Setting up customised biddable subsets allows you to align bids to the value of different product groups. You can divide your inventory with six key attributes, for example brands, age group, gender, price range, style, etc.
With custom labels, you can also tag your products by profit margin so that you can separate low- and high-margin items or promotions to budget more efficiently.
Impressive reporting capabilities
Results analysis is an essential part of any project, and Google Shopping Campaigns offers fantastic reporting tools thanks to which you can crunch numbers to your heart’s content. You can choose from performance by product or by product attribute, and as the data is associated with each item rather than a product group, you can drill down as much as you want to find out exactly how every single product is performing.
But that is not all. You also have access to the competition metrics such as the estimated average Click-through rate and the maximum cost-per-click of other advertisers selling similar products. Although the data is anonymous, it gives you invaluable and accurate insights into what your competitors are doing.
Can you do it yourself?
Like Adwords, it is technically easy to open a merchant’s account and set up products for Google Shopping advertisement. It is even easier to spend a lot of money and not see much for it. Running a successful campaign that gets you the sales you are hoping for requires an in-depth knowledge of Google’s ways and we would always advise to contact professionals like This Side Up. A premier Google Partner, we can maximise your advertisement budget and return on investment. If you would like your products to feature on Google Shopping, contact us on 09 360 2299 or send us an email for a chat with our friendly team.