Google Shopping Cheat Sheet: Everything you need to get started

Google Shopping Cheat Sheet: Everything you need to get started

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a highly focused product-based ad format, that offers highly relevant products to users. It makes use of their market-leading search engine to connect users with what they want. With a continually growing ecommerce sector, this channel will continue to demonstrate its value to retailers and marketers. Google Shopping ad placements give advertisers a presence in search engine results pages for search terms that are relevant to their products and a top place in the shopping tab of the main search engine. With COVID-19 disrupting traditional markets and industries, particularly its impact on retail, commerce is positioned to become a core component of all business at a faster rate than previously projected.

If you want to skip to the cheat sheet.

Overall there are three primary elements to creating a Google Shopping campaign.
These are:

Ad Format

As you have probably seen in your Google searches, shopping ads are present in the search engine results page, but only for product relevant keywords that are being bid on. The shopping ads section also allows the user to navigate to an expanded shopping product list, through the shopping tab, or the ‘See’ link above the ads. The expanded platform of shopping ads also integrates filtering and sorting options, to let users narrow their search further through a series of filters such as brand, price, style, etc.

For smart shopping campaign types, the range of ad formats extends beyond the normal shopping formats to span Responsive Display ads (RSA), Youtube, Gmail, and Discover ad formats.

Merchant Center & Setting up your Product Feed

Google Merchant Center is the platform that allows you to upload and handle your product feed data and then transfer it onto your Google Ads account, which can then be used for hopping campaigns. This step then means that Google will review your products to ensure they meet their standards before being advertised on their platform.

In terms of product feed types, there are multiple ways to have your products uploaded to Google Merchant Center, allowing for flexibility depending on your situation and setup.

Feed TypeDescription
Google SheetsThe feed fetches a Google Sheets document with the set and updated values for your range of products. This needs to be generated manually or through specific apps.
File UploadThis can be in the format of a delimited Text file, or XML, and needs to be manually uploaded.
Content APIMany Ecommerce and website platforms allow for Google Merchant Center Feed Connectors in which you can have Google Merchant Center fetch the feed directly from your site.

Although there are multiple forms in which you can provide the product information to Google Merchant Center, each will still require the same minimum product data specifications. These specification requirements can be found here.

Google Ads

When creating your campaign in Google Ads there are a number of settings that will need to be configured in order to get started, which include target locations, daily budgets, ad placements, bidding strategy, and more. Below is a list of the core settings necessary for shopping campaigns, as well as a specific list of smart shopping campaign-specific settings.

For smart shopping your options for bidding is limited to ‘maximise conversion value’ due to the automated nature of this campaign subtype. However, you can adjust your target return on ad spend (ROAS), which will help the campaign decide on how aggressive it should be in ad auctions, in order to meet your target.

Smart shopping campaigns require many of the same set up elements as a standard shopping campaign, but differ through the automation of its audience targeting and placements in order to support driving suited customers towards converting.

TrackingBefore you start your campaign, you will need to set up conversion tracking, which we would recommend importing e-commerce data transactions from Google Analytics. In order to create a smart shopping campaign, you will need to have had previous transaction conversions through your Google Ads account.
Choose Merchant Center FeedChoose the merchant Center account that you want to use in your shopping campaign. The available accounts will be based on your Google accounts.
Choose Campaign TypeChoose between standard shopping and smart shopping campaign subtype. This can’t be changed after the campaign has been created.
Campaign NameName your campaign.
LocationChoose the geographic location that you want to target with your campaign.
Bidding TypeChoose between the available bidding strategies for your campaign, as well as choosing between focusing on optimising for conversion volume vs.conversion value. The bid types for shopping campaigns are:


  • Manual CPC (with optional Enhanced CPC)
  • Maximise Clicks
  • Target ROAS (Return on ad spend)


Set the daily budget that you want the campaign to spend.
PlacementsFor Standard shopping campaigns, you can also choose to expand the networks in which you will see placements. These options include:


  • Google Search Partner Network
  • Youtube, Gmail, Discover

We know that starting a campaign on an unfamiliar channel or platform can be a daunting task, we’ve all been there at some point. However, hopefully with the use of this cheat sheet, you can get started on the right foot, with the knowledge of what information, settings, and components are needed to get that campaign going.

Got a question?

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