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Is It Time to Try Google Advertising?

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Google AdsGoogle shook up its advertising programs in early summer, including changes that make it easier for small businesses to automate campaigns, and it announced a collaboration with ecommerce platform Shopify as it targets small sellers.

It dumped its Google AdWords brand in favor of “Google Ads,” and now offers Smart Campaigns: “We show your ads to customers who are interested in what your business offers, and are likely to call, visit your store, or make a purchase on your website.”

That’s not to be confused with Google Smart Shopping campaigns, another feature targeted at online merchants: “With Smart Shopping campaigns, your existing product feed and assets are combined with Google’s machine learning to show a variety of ads across networks.”

Those who sell only through online marketplaces may wonder how they would get sales if they open up their own ecommerce website if they don’t know anything about advertising. It can be daunting, but after all, anyone who can navigate selling on marketplaces is probably well equipped to figure out Google’s ad programs, and the ecommerce platform(s) on which you sell will most likely have resources and tools to help you.

Shopify is one platform that’s trying to help its sellers advertise on Google to boost sales. Ellen Dunne, Shopify Senior Product Manager, said merchants today run a variety of apps to build marketing campaigns for their products, which can be time-consuming and unproductive. “We are excited to provide our merchants with the ability to execute, manage and track marketing campaigns all within Shopify with Google Smart Shopping Campaigns,” she told EcommerceBytes.

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Google Smart Shopping in Shopify allows merchants to create a campaign just by setting a daily budget, while machine learning optimizes the rest.

“Entrepreneurs no longer have to toggle between Shopify’s store dashboard and Google Shopping apps to run ads. The new function will allow entrepreneurs to easily set up, execute and track marketing campaigns quickly without having to leave Shopify.”

Other sites also offer ad tools – ecommerce platform BigCommerce offers merchants access to a Google Shopping integration through a third-party company called Sales & Orders.

To take a closer look at the new Google Smart Shopping campaigns, we turned to Daniel Sperling-Horowitz, President of Zentail, which helps merchants sell across multiple channels including Google Shopping. Here are his responses to our questions:

First, could you provide background – is Google Smart Shopping campaigns the same as Google Product Listing Ads, and why would a seller use Smart Shopping campaigns?

Daniel Sperling-Horowitz: Smart Shopping campaigns leverage Product Shopping ads (formerly referred to as Product Listing Ads or “PLAs”) and display ads. Google Shopping campaign implementation and bid management can be confusing and time consuming to set up and a bit scary since unprofitable campaigns are a real possibility. Smart Shopping campaigns aims to take a lot of the configuration and bid management out of the equation so sellers can get exposure to Google Ads and drive traffic cost effectively to their own webstore.

Are Google Smart Shopping campaigns good for beginners?

Daniel Sperling-Horowitz: Google Smart Shopping campaigns in theory are good for beginners, but sellers need to have at least 20 conversions over the last 45 days across existing Shopping campaigns before they can set up a Smart campaign. So the seller will still need to implement at least one Google Shopping campaign before qualifying.

Where would you point sellers to who want to promote their own websites?

Daniel Sperling-Horowitz: Sellers that are serious about building their own webstore need to roll up their sleeves and learn Google Ads. We recommend taking a certification course and exam through Google’s Academy for Ads. This will provide the fundamental knowledge to confidently implement Google Ads campaigns or at least understand the work they are relying on other service providers to perform.

Should sellers allocate any marketplace listing fees toward Google Ads instead?

Daniel Sperling-Horowitz: Sellers should look at Google Ads, specifically Google Shopping, the same way they look at marketplace channels. Just like marketplaces, there are fees that must be paid to participate and generate orders. The only difference is that Google Shopping requires sellers to pay up front on a per click basis, while marketplaces charge per sale.

The amount spent on Google Ads (pay-per-click * number of clicks) should track a target “effective commission” rate. Effective commission is the advertising spend as a percentage of revenue generated on the channel (ad spend / google shopping revenue).

We recommend targeting 15% effective commission since this is equivalent to marketplace commissions. For sellers that understand their customer lifetime value and are able to continuously market to their customers, we recommend increasing effective commission to acquire more customers.

Are you seeing any results from sellers using Google Smart Shopping campaigns?

Daniel Sperling-Horowitz: Zentail sellers use our Programmatic Google Shopping service which is similar to Smart Shopping campaigns with the advantage that they don’t need to do any initial campaign implementation or management – Zentail handles all of that for the seller. For sellers that don’t have access to Zentail’s Programmatic Google Shopping service, we recommend setting up a Shopping campaign to qualify and enroll in Smart Shopping campaigns.

What budget do you absolutely need to make Google ads work for you?

Daniel Sperling-Horowitz: Your budget should increase only when a cost-effective, controlled campaign is in place and daily bid budgets are consistently being reached before the end of the day. We advise our sellers to allocate $100 per day to Google Ad spend which translates to a $3,000 monthly budget. Typically a $100 daily budget will not be reached when a campaign is initially launched, since PPC bids should start low and rise for specific SKUs based on impression share, click and conversion rate data.

What are some resources where people can learn more?

Daniel Sperling-Horowitz: This is the source of truth for Smart Shopping campaigns. And Google’s Academy for Ads certification course is worth the roughly 2-3 hours it takes for completion.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

5 thoughts on “Is It Time to Try Google Advertising?”

  1. I finally dug through the information and found: “Your budget should increase only when a cost-effective, controlled campaign is in place and daily bid budgets are consistently being reached before the end of the day. We advise our sellers to allocate $100 per day to Google Ad spend which translates to a $3,000 monthly budget. ” This is a total waste of my time. First, I can’t use it at all because I do not own my own website (I am considering getting a bargain basement “pointer” site which would work) . Second, the amounts are RIDICULOUS. Paying $3k for ads when I “MIGHT” achieve a few hundred in sales is beyond the pale. Third, my audience is not into “Google Shopping.” What I really want is a way to have people who do standard Google searches with keywords, find my items on the first few pages of search results.

    Great for some of the bigger places – wish this was made clear right up front.

  2. Ina – thanks so much for the article – I now know that I don’t have to waste any more precious time dreaming about google ads. Good lord – you would think these guys think we are all Amazon and who the heck can afford to pay $3,000 a month for some other corporation to steer people to my site. My personal website name has already been google searched over 7,000,000 (true figure guys) times and I’m starving. And I thought eBay was criminal.

  3. $3000 A MONTH !! GAK!!
    A big thank you to Timetreasures for digging deeper to reveal this nasty little chestnut.
    I have never fully trusted Google Adwords anyway.
    If you are a high flyer it might be costing you your budget in visits by competitors.
    I was going to point at my ebay listings but from what I can make out it’s more
    for the shopping network.
    In any case I will be giving Google Ads a wide berth based purely on their suggested spend.

  4. No. It’s time to push back and resist the borG. We should all try to avoid every aspect of them in as many ways as possible.

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