Google Shopping 101 + Case Study


What we refer to today as the Google Shopping system used to be called “Google AdWords Product Listing Ads” or PLAs. While the term PLA’s still exist and refers to the product ads themselves, Google Shopping is a dedicated shopping search engine from Google (

Google Shopping helps retailers connect their content and products with consumers – no matter where or when they are shopping.

While anyone can search for a product on, only those merchants who pay via Product Listing Ads are included within Google Shopping.

Although product pages can rank naturally within Google searches (if Google believes there’s a shopping match), using Google Shopping gives you a more targeted way to showcase your products and connect with customers.

Google Shopping results are typically displayed in a special box that’s integrated into regular results. This shopping box also features a “Sponsored” disclaimer, as shown in the example below.


Since Google is a starting point for millions of shoppers every day, they have the traffic and reach that allows retailers to expand their customer base beyond what they ever thought possible.

Their technology also provides retailers with new and greater opportunities to connect the right product with the right customer at the right time – which has become increasingly important in our hyper-connected, multi-screen world.

Google Shopping In Action

Let’s journey through an example of how products can be promoted to consumers via Google Shopping:

A consumer, let’s call him Bob, starts searching for fishing poles on from his laptop while hanging out on his couch at home.

Product Listing Ads will appear and include important details that Bob and other consumers would typically want to know about, such as price, photos, and product descriptions.

If Bob sees a fishing pole that he likes, he can click on the PLA and he’ll be taken directly to the merchant’s website to learn more about the product and/or make the purchase.

However, if Bob doesn’t find the fishing pole he’s looking for or simply wants to see more results, he can just click on the “Shop for fishing poles on Google” link at the top to continue shopping on the Google Shopping site.

By clicking on the link to continue shopping, Bob will be taken to a page that compares different fishing pole brands and merchants. He’ll also have a myriad of filtering opportunities on the left side of the screen (price, size, color, etc.) to dive deeper into his discovery phase and find the product he connects with.


From there, Bob may leave the house and head to the store to actually see the fishing pole he’s interested in, hold it, talk to a retail rep about it, etc. Or, he may head to the lake to contemplate his different options.

In either scenario, it’s very likely that Bob will take his smart phone with him and use it to continue his shopping journey on or He may even use it to make a purchase while he’s waiting for a fish to bite.

Whether accesses through his laptop, desktop, tablet or phone, the Google Shopping system makes it easy for Bob to click to the product he wants and make a purchase from the merchant who is selling it.

While this process may sound as easy as fishing in a barrel, there are actually important steps retailers need to take in order to make their Google Shopping experience successful and profitable.

Optimizing Google Shopping Is Key

For many marketers, it is common practice to simply link their product feed to Google Merchant Center and start running a Google Shopping campaign in AdWords. However, this set-it-and-forget-it strategy is not optimal – especially if you want your ads to display correctly. Both the Google Shopping product feed and your AdWords account needs to be properly set up, managed, and optimized on a regular basis.

For in-depth details on what this looks like, review our post, Strategies for Optimizing Your Google Shopping Feed and AdWords Account.

Case Study: Decreasing Cost Per Conversion with Google Shopping

One of our clients was looking for a more cost-effective strategy to promote their products during certain holidays – a time when proven keywords were competitive and costly.

By focusing on Google Shopping campaigns, we were able to help them:

  • Decrease their cost per conversion by 60% month-over-month
  • Increase their return on ad spending by 200%
  • Decrease their overall AdWords spend by 61% month-over-month.

You can learn more about our approach for this client by reading their case study.

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