9. Expanding Beyond Google Shopping
Scale Your Search Marketing
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
You don’t have to wait for your Google Shopping Ads to run at 100% until you expand into related marketing channels. Beside, it is difficult to know if shopping ads are running at their full potential because new data lets you continually optimise bids and the shopping feed.
Your sales can meander right now from other sources to complement Google Shopping. When you’ve run Google Shopping for a couple of months, you will have collected search term and audience data to grow other types of marketing. If you see Google Shopping generating sales, that’s a good indicator other channels can take sales further. There are additional channels in Google Ads, and competitors of Google to use, to grow. If you only run Google Shopping Ads, there is a lot of money left on the table.
Four Channels to Expand Beyond Google Shopping
The four primary related areas to expand beyond Google Shopping for more traffic and sales is video ads (primarily on YouTube), display ads, search ads, and Microsoft Advertising. The first three channels are managed in Google Ads while Microsoft Advertising is managed on its own platform.
1. Video Ads
A 2016 Nielsen study found that in an average month, people over 18 years old in the United States spend more time watching YouTube than any television network. In many markets, YouTube is a part of the buying journey because it entertains and educates through people outside the business, making it a source of trustworthy information. Video ads are a powerful tool to uplift brand awareness, traffic, and sales to the site.
Do you have videos that could be used to promote products? If not, there’s no need to freak out thinking its 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 more polished ad creative. Having said that, you can make great video ads that are cheap, simple, and effective. YouTube have guidelines on how to make a great video ad without breaking the bank.
Ad options on YouTube for ecommerce companies include:
TrueView In-Stream Ads
The in-stream ad plays before, during, or after a video. After 5 seconds, the viewer has the option to skip the ad. In-stream ads run on YouTube, partner websites, and apps. I recorded a TrueView ad by Grammarly for you to see below then posted it to YouTube, but you may get another TrueView ad before watching this example (TrueView inception).
TrueView Ads are said to get their name off the bid format because the advertiser only pays when the video plays for 30 seconds (or the video’s duration if its shorter), or when 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.
TrueView Video Discovery Ads
Previously known as TrueView In-Display Ads, this type of TrueView ad runs on YouTube and other websites, appearing in places where people discover content. The two most popular locations 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 TrueView Video Discovery Ad 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 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 TrueView 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 when using mobile and tablet 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 play 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 TrueView, 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 getting 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 on 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.
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 have a Creator Academy that covers production, building an audience, video analytics, and more.
2. Google Search Ads
Search ads have been touched on through out 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.
These work by entering keywords you want your ads to show for. When a user searches for one of these keywords, 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 will pay less for a click or have your ad rank higher in the auction. The result is a cost-saving or more traffic. In other words, it pays to do your Google Ads well.
To find the best keywords, use the data you already have from the search term 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 sale-driving data.
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, for example, “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 in 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 four ad formats available to run your display ads. Some serve in unique placements while others contain unique features.
Responsive ads can be 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.
As the name may suggest, these are the ads that appear as images. You create the images in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Follow the image requirements. There are over 20 image sizes so if you want the most impression reach for effort, I suggest starting with the most common sizes.
If you want more creative control of your ad creative than responsive ads, I recommend designing display ads in Google Web Designer. The interface is user-friendly. The software will output multiple HTML5-based designs, which is friendly for web design standards and allows for animation to convey a message.
Also known as “Lightbox ads”, engagement ads provide video and images people can click, tap, and hover. The ads may expand to fill the screen. You can create up to 10 cards with various ad assets. Advertisers are charged on a cost per engagement (CPE) basis. Most Shopify stores are suited to use responsive ads given it pulls feed data, but engagements ads can be worth testing.
If you use Gmail, you may have noticed promoted emails. These are Gmail ads, a type of display ad. When the ad is clicked on, an expandable display ad is shown. Advertisers have similar targeting options as other display formats allowing your business to sit in the inbox of your target audience. No longer can you target people by keywords in their emails. You can learn more about Gmail Ads on Google’s support page.
- I suggest all stores do remarketing on the display network. Once search and shopping ads meet profit goals, then explore the display network.
- 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 Ad 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, select your largest customer audience, then click on “Audience insights”. You will see in-market and affinity audiences that your customers are in. Target these traits in display ads.
- If you have at least 50 conversions on display or 100 conversions from search in the last 30 days, use a Smart Display campaign. This allows Google’s machine learning to show the ad to people who are similar to your customers. The machine learning helps to automate bidding, targeting, and creative. The more conversion data in the ad account, the better Google’s dynamic prospecting will work to acquire customers.
- My last tip is to know the display network is huge. Set a dedicated budget for display campaigns so they don’t eat into search or shopping campaigns.
4. Microsoft Advertising
Microsoft Advertising, formerly known as Bing Ads, run ads primarily through the Bing search engine. According to Net Market Share, 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 have an ad platform modeled 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. Searchers are efficiently 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 many 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, a lot of store owners are too busy to follow this guide on Google Shopping. Then there are also 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. If you act fast, 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 Setup Key Google Products for Ad Growth
- 5. Your Google Shopping Feed in Shopify
- 6. Campaign Structure
- 7. Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaigns
- 8. Google Shopping Merchant Center Programs
- 9. Expanding Beyond Google Shopping