google shopping carousel

How to get the best results from Google shopping ads

What are google shopping ads?

Shopping ads were launched in 2012 and quickly became the shop window of online shopping. We’re all now used to researching products of interest online before committing to a purchase. These ads appear in a visually engaging format, displaying product images, prices and business names at the top of search results or in the “Shopping” tab. Your customers will search specifically for the product name to seek further information or to find a competitive price. This is how committed BOTF buyers now transact ie customers who know the specific product they are looking for.

Benefits and features of Google shopping ads for ecommerce

Key features:

  1. Visual Appeal: Shopping ads feature images of the specific products, making them more attractive and noticeable to potential customers compared to less engaging text-based ads.
  2. Product Information: These ads include essential details such as the selling price, product name or title, store name and product reviews, providing customers with key buying decision information upfront.
  3. Wide Reach: Google Shopping Ads now appear not only in search results but also on Google Shopping, YouTube and across the Google Display Network, offering extensive visibility to your target audience.
  4. Targeting and Relevance: The ads are triggered based on relevant search queries, ensuring they reach valid customers with purchase intent, who are actively searching for similar products.
  5. Performance-Based: Advertisers can set bids and budgets and they only pay when someone clicks on their ad, making it a cost-effective advertising method.

Benefits for eCommerce Business Merchants:

  1. Increased Visibility and Traffic: Shopping ads are prominently displayed, leading to higher visibility and click-through rates. This can drive more traffic to your website – caveat: google shopping is highly price driven and normally produces better results for businesses who are willing/able to compete on price.
  2. Higher Quality Leads: Since the ads provide detailed product information upfront, clicks are more likely to come from genuinely interested customers, leading to higher conversion rates. Buyers with high intent on buying are searching on google – be in the right place at the right time with google shopping ads.
  3. Better ROI: With a pay-per-click model, you only pay when a user engages with your ad. Combined with the high conversion potential, this can result in a better return on investment. One thing to bear in mind is that ROAS targets are now the way most retailers measure performance and this is highly competitive. Any strategy to increase target ROAS will have an affect on overall sales volume!
  4. Enhanced User Experience: Customers get a quick snapshot of your product, including visuals and key details, which can enhance their shopping experience and increase the likelihood of a purchase.
  5. Competitive Edge: Shopping ads allow you to highlight special offers, product reviews and other unique selling points that can set you apart from competitors.
  6. Insightful Analytics: Google provides detailed performance metrics, enabling you to track ad effectiveness, understand consumer behaviour and refine your strategy for better results.

The difference between standard shopping ads and performance max ads

Standard Google Shopping Ads:

Standard Google Shopping Ads are a type of ad format that allows ecommerce businesses to showcase their products in the search results with engaging images, prices and other product details.

Key Features:

  • Manual Campaign Management: Advertisers have control over the bid strategies, targeting and segmentation of their shopping campaigns. Not realistic for ecommerce merchants with large inventories!
  • Specific Targeting: Ads are triggered by specific search queries related to the products being advertised.
  • Separate Campaigns: Shopping ads are managed separately from other types of Google Ads, allowing for more focused management.
  • Product Listing: Each product is individually listed and ads are shown based on the product data feed provided by the merchant.


  • Control and Precision: Offers granular control over campaign settings, bidding and targeting.
  • Customisation: Allows for detailed segmentation and custom bidding strategies for different product groups.
  • Transparency: Provides detailed reporting and insights specific to Shopping campaigns.

Shopping Ads Through Performance Max (launched 2021):

Overview: Performance Max (PMax) is a goal-based campaign type that allows advertisers to access all of their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign. It includes Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, Discover and Maps, alongside Shopping Ads.

Key Features:

  • Automation and Machine Learning: Utilises Google’s machine learning to automate bidding, targeting and ad placements across all Google channels.
  • Unified Campaigns: Combines all ad formats and placements into a single campaign, optimising for the best performance across Google’s ecosystem.
  • Goal-Based Optimisation: Focuses on achieving specific marketing goals (e.g., sales, leads) rather than individual ad performance.
  • Dynamic Creative Optimisation: Automatically generates and tests different ad creatives to find the best performing combinations.


  • Efficiency: Simplifies campaign management by unifying all ad formats into a single campaign, reducing the complexity of managing multiple campaigns.
  • Broad Reach: Ensures ads are shown across all of Google’s platforms, maximising exposure.
  • Data-Driven: Leverages advanced machine learning to optimise campaigns for performance based on real-time data and signals.
  • Flexibility: Adapts to different user intents and contexts, ensuring ads are relevant across various touchpoints.
  • New customers: Performance max is great for seeking out new customers within your niche

Key Differences:

  1. Management Style:
    • Standard Shopping Ads: Require manual setup and ongoing management, offering greater control and customisation. This can become time consuming!
    • Performance Max: Focuses on automation and cross-channel optimisation, reducing the need for manual intervention. This style of campaign can be set and run with minimal administration or management.
  2. Ad Placements:
    • Standard Shopping Ads: Appear primarily in Google Search and the Shopping tab.
    • Performance Max: Ads can appear across all of Google’s properties, including YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail and Maps. A lot has been written about waste on the above approach but don’t forget the Google algorithms job is to achieve sales and the majority of ad spend with pmax still comes from the shopping carousel.
  3. Optimisation and Targeting:
    • Standard Shopping Ads: Allow for manual control over targeting and bidding strategies.
    • Performance Max: Uses automated optimisation to achieve marketing goals, with limited manual control.
  4. Complexity and Resources:
    • Standard Shopping Ads: Require more time and expertise to manage effectively due to the need for detailed segmentation and manual adjustments.
    • Performance Max: Reduces complexity by handling most of the optimisation automatically, freeing up time for strategic planning. Pmax is a great system and really is the pinnacle for shopping ads through automation.

Both Standard Google Shopping Ads and Shopping Ads through Performance Max have their unique benefits. Standard Shopping Ads offer greater control and precision, making them ideal for advertisers who prefer hands-on management and detailed customisation. On the other hand, Performance Max leverages automation and broad reach to simplify campaign management and optimise performance across all Google channels, making it suitable for those looking to maximise efficiency and scale their advertising efforts.

Some strategy points on Pmax shopping campaigns

A lot is said on the pmax wasting budget with a plethora of agencies and propriety subscription software offering to improve performance. Our question to you is can Googles algorithm be beaten?

  • Splitting out to more than one pmax campaign can offer a little flex when it comes to target ROAS
  • Segmenting your products by individual Brands can help focus more budget towards products that could be lost in one overll caimpaign.
  • Review and remove products or brands that do not convert to sales at attractive ROAS – this will allow for increased budget spend on better performers.
  • ROAS target is the most common metric goal for setting pmax ecommerce campaigns – consider that a higher ROAS will mean less sales and a lower ROAS will allow for market penetration
  • Typical ROAS targets for retailers can be anywhere between 400% to 1100%.
  • Some bigger aggressive retailers can bully out competition by being overly aggressive on target ROAS and daily budgets
  • Retailers can use shopping ads to remain visible to their target consumer


Google Shopping Ads offer a powerful platform for eCommerce merchants to increase product visibility, attract high-quality leads and improve sales. The combination of visual appeal, detailed product information and extensive reach makes it an ideal choice for businesses looking to enhance their online presence and drive revenue growth.

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