10. Expand Beyond Google Shopping
Scale Google Ads for Shopify
I think of Google as a set of overlapping things. It’s a consumer platform, consumer phenomenon of which search is its fundamental activity, but there are many other things you can do than search… I think of Google as an advertising company who services the broader advertising industry in the ways that you know.
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google from 2001-2015
Don’t wait for your Google Shopping ads to run at 100% until you expand into related marketing channels. If you only run Google Shopping ads, there is a lot of money left on the table.
There are additional channels in Google Ads and competitors of Google, that you can use to scale. Other campaign types and channels complement Google Shopping. A Google Shopping campaign with sales gives hope other campaign types and channels can grow too.
Five Ways to Expand Beyond Google Shopping
The five primary areas to expand in search marketing beyond Google Shopping are YouTube ads, search ads, display ads, discovery ads, and Microsoft Advertising. The first four have their own sub-categories and are managed in Google Ads.
1. YouTube Ads
Data for 2022 shows YouTube to have the second most active users of all social media platforms with 2.5 billion users—more than TikTok and Instagram combined. YouTube is a part of the buying journey because it entertains and educates through people outside the business, making it a trustworthy source of information. Video ads uplift brand awareness, traffic, and sales to a website.
Do you have videos that could be used to promote products? If not, there’s no need to freak out thinking it is beyond your capacity to create them. Ads with a native appearance work best on Facebook with text-overlays and images, but YouTube ads do best with polished ad creative. Having said that, you can make great video ads that are cheap, simple, and effective. I’ve got an awesome gift for you soon to help you make YouTube ads that drive sales in Shopify.
Ad options on YouTube for ecommerce companies include:
Skippable In-Stream Ads
Skippable in-stream ads play before, during, or after a video. After 5 seconds, the viewer has the option to skip the ad. Formerly known as TrueView in-stream ads, the in-stream ad runs on YouTube, partner websites, and apps.
I recorded a skippable in-stream ad by Grammarly for you to see below then posted it to YouTube. You may get another in-stream video ad before watching this example for in-stream video ad inception.
Skippable in-stream ads are said to get their name off the bid format because the advertiser only pays when:
- The video plays for 30 seconds.
- The video is shorter than 30 seconds and completes.
- The person engages with the ads like clicking on a call-to-action overlay, a card, or a companion banner.
The type of bidding makes it attractive for stores because it qualifies the audience by letting viewers skip the ad.
Particularly appealing to Shopify merchants is an in-stream ad that allows you to upload shopping cards from the Merchant Center feed. You can display and select up to 6 products. The campaign settings has an option for you to select the 6 products to advertise. If you want the shopping cards to be able to run all products in the Merchant Center account, pick the “Product Filter” setting to use no filter.
The in-feed video ad, formerly known as TrueView Video discovery ads, runs on YouTube and other websites, appearing in places where people discover content. The two most popular locations of the ad are at the top of YouTube search results and near the section on recommended videos to watch when another video is viewed.
The ad contains a thumbnail image from the video with text. The ad format varies in size and format depending on the content supported by the publisher. When someone clicks the thumbnail of the ad, the advertiser is charged. The video then plays on YouTube or the channel page.
The thumbnail and title of the video is critical to make the in-feed video get viewership. The ad format is excellent for educational content as people who click on the video are interested to learn more. Be sure to build an audience list in Google Ads of people who watch the video to target them with other video content.
The bumper ad is a 6 second or less video that cannot be skipped. It is designed to build brand awareness with a short, memorable message. An advertiser is charged on a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) basis, so you pay each time the ad is shown 1,000 times. Like a skippable in-stream ad, a bumper ad plays before, during, or after a video.
An outstream ad runs on partner websites and apps. They only appear on mobile devices. The ad type has a unique bidding model of viewable cost-per-thousand-impressions (vCPM). This means an advertiser is charged when someone sees the video ad for two or more seconds.
Remarketing videos use audience lists in Google Analytics in the same way as shopping ads. You can combine a Google Analytics audience list with in-stream, in-feed, bumper, and outstream ads to target people who have been to the Shopify store. If you have no interest in running a complex YouTube ad strategy, but you have at minimum one YouTube video that is decent, at least run this video to people who visited the store in the past 7 days. A remarketing video is something we see work for nearly every store.
The key to remarketing videos running well is to tailor the video to each audience. Someone who abandoned cart will require a different video message than someone who viewed your product page for 20 seconds.
A video ad strategy can involve remarketing to people who have looked at a specific product, abandoned cart, or spent more than 5 minutes in the store. To these people, a video showing the product, its features, usage, and customer testimonials would be valuable. Combine this with the audience exclusion feature to create a video funnel where people who watched one video are presented with another. An alternative to achieve this is to run a video ad sequence campaign.
YouTube Shopping lets you promote products on any of your YouTube videos. Google says the feature lets you:
- Set up and connect your store to YouTube to feature your own products, like merch, in your videos and live streams.
- Feature products from other brands in your videos, Shorts, and live streams.
- View performance metrics for featuring products in your videos, Shorts, and live streams.
- Understand which products resonate best with your audience.
For further help in running video ads, see Google’s tips for optimising video campaigns. Learn the ideal video format, discover your options with targeting, and the metrics to monitor.
If you decide to invest in organic video content, which is not required to do well with video ads, YouTube has a channel for creators that covers production, building an audience, video analytics, and more.
2. Google Search Ads
Search ads have been touched on throughout the guide. Three or four of these ads sit seamlessly at the top of the Google search results page with more at the bottom. They typically have “Ad” text on their left-side.
When a user searches for a keyword you’re bidding on, your ads go into an auction system. The position of the ad is determined by quality score, bid, and other factors. Ads most relevant—as determined by the quality score metric—for the user are more likely to show at the top of the results page. The relevancy of an ad is determined by a number of variables including relevancy between the user’s search and relevancy of the ads to the keyword and landing page, quality score, and expected click-through-rate (CTR).
By improving your quality score, you pay less for a click or have your ad rank higher in the auction. The result is either a cost-saving or more traffic. It pays to do your Google Ads well.
To find the best keywords, use the data you already have from the search terms report in your shopping ads campaigns. This gives a good indication as to what people already search to find your products. You can then expand upon this list by finding variations of searches that people are using to find websites like yours.
To quickly find all the keyword themes that have resulted in impressions, clicks, or sales, run the N-Gram Analysis Script (given to you in the optimisation chapter). The report produced from the script can form the full campaign and ad group structure of your search ad strategy. Best of all, if you have an abundance of conversion data from your shopping ads, you can launch search ads with confidence knowing it is based on data that has got sales.
3. Google Display Ads
Shopping and search ads are fantastic for showing ads when someone actively seeks a product you sell. If you want to find new audiences, display ads can generate demand and showcase your products like video ads.
You likely see Google display ads every day. They sit on websites typically with a blend of image and text. The Google Display Network is made of over 1 million websites.
A benefit of display ads is the targeting options. From choosing the types of sites you want ads to appear on to targeting users with specific browsing habits like “beauty mavens”, you can get granular to find the right people for your products.
Display ads can bring in sales. Nearly all Google Ads experts and marketers believe, beside remarketing ads, no one buys from clicking on a display ad. But from 2018 at Digital Darts, we saw more and more people buying directly from a non-remarketing display ad. Display ads don’t drive high-volume compared to other channels, but they can yield the same ROAS as shopping ads with a higher click volume at a lower conversion rate.
There are two main ad formats available to run your display ads. You can create responsive display ads or upload your own.
Responsive Display Ads
The most common format for display ads. Responsive ads are worthwhile if you do not have the capacity to make imagery or banner ads. You input ad text and accompanying images then Google will automatically create the ads as well as resizing them to match the ad space. If needed, there is an image library available where you can select images for your ads with no copyright implications.
Upload Display Ads
You create your own images in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Follow the image requirements. There are over 20 image sizes so if you want the most impressions for effort, start with the most common sizes.
For complete control of your ad creative, design display ads in Google Web Designer. The software will output multiple HTML5-based designs, which is friendly for web design standards. The interface is user-friendly. The software allows for animation to convey a message.
- Non-search and shopping campaigns excel the more conversion data is in the ad account. Get search or shopping conversions into the hundreds per month to increase your chances of seeing conversions on other campaign types.
- Performance Max covers all YouTube, Display, and Discovery campaign types in this chapter. If you’re running Performance Max, know these are included.
- All stores should do remarketing on the display network. Once search and shopping ads meet profit goals, then explore the display network.
- Set a dedicated budget for display campaigns so they don’t eat into search or shopping campaigns. The display network is huge.
- An excellent starting point for cold acquisition is looking at your referral traffic in Google Analytics to see what websites refer sales. Target these websites with managed placements. If you don’t know whether a website is on the Google Display Network, look at their website for display ads, otherwise just run the ads to see if you accrue impressions.
- Another effective strategy is going into “Audience Manager” in Google Ads, selecting your largest customer audience, then clicking on “Audience insights”. You will see in-market and affinity audiences that your customers are in. Target these traits in display ads.
4. Discovery Campaigns
A Discovery campaign can appear on YouTube, Gmail, Discover, and other Google properties. A discovery ad can take up placements possible in display and video campaigns. Google’s machine learning is tuned to show people who are likely to engage with your brand as it can automate bidding, targeting, and creative.
One channel in a Discovery campaign is Google Discover. The feature on Android phones is like a Facebook feed focused on content. I use it as my news source.
If you use free Gmail, you may have noticed promoted emails. These are discovery ads. When the ad is clicked on, an expandable display ad is shown. You get similar targeting options as other display formats, allowing your store to sit in the inbox of your target audience.
Discovery campaigns work best for our clients when they get close to 1,000 conversions per month. The additional sales is not much, but the campaign can be profitable. Learn more about Discovery campaigns on Google’s support page.
5. Microsoft Advertising
If you’re profitable on Google Ads, you must test out Microsoft Advertising. The advertising platform, formerly known as Bing Ads, runs ads primarily through the Bing search engine. Bing sits around 10% of the search volume of Google Ads. This data mirrors most Google and Microsoft Advertising accounts we manage for Shopify stores. We see about 10% of the clicks and sales on Microsoft Advertising as Google Ads.
While Microsoft Advertising’s reach is smaller than Google Ads, the performance is similar. Microsoft has an ad platform modelled off Google making it a worthwhile platform to consider within your marketing strategy.
Arguably, it can be a better platform for reaching two different audiences. One is the less tech-savvy people who use Windows with Bing automatically set as the default browser. The other audience includes people unable to set a different default browser, such as users of a public library or students at university.
Other advantages of Microsoft Advertising include a cheaper cost-per-click (CPC) due to the lower amount of competition, as well as an import option which allows the advertiser to import campaigns from Google Ads.
Google Shopping ads is a powerful channel for stores to grow. People searching are connected to stores that sell products of interest.
There is a measurable return on investment making it attractive for the data-driven business owner. There is minute control to fine-tune performance while having the machine learning and tools to manage in bulk. The platform has been the backbone of success for the majority of our clients over the years.
Advertising is the cornerstone of Google’s success so we can expect the behemoth to continue helping businesses connect with customers.
Where to Next?
If you enjoyed this guide, there are two things to do. Firstly, share it with other store owners you know. Help them grow their business. I appreciate it having spent thousands of hours learning and writing the book.
Secondly, you are probably too busy to follow this guide on Google Shopping. Then there are search and display ads, which add another thing on your to-do list. Or perhaps you now see a lot of room for improvement in your Google Ads. If you are interested in expert help and partnering with Digital Darts to grow your store, see our Google Ads service for Shopify. Mention you read this book and we’ll cut $300 off the setup.
- 1. The Power of Google Shopping
- 2. How Does Google Shopping Work?
- 3. How to Profit From Google Shopping
- 4. How to Set Up Key Google Products for Ad Growth
- 5. Your Google Shopping Feed in Shopify
- 6. Google Shopping Campaign Structure
- 7. Performance Max Campaigns
- 8. Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaigns
- 9. Google Merchant Center Programs
- 10. Expand Beyond Google Shopping