Showcase Shopping ads are the next step in reaching new customers for retailers. Because Google Shopping ads already drive as much as 70 percent of non-branded clicks for retailers, it makes sense that Google’s next product for Shopping ads will help you convey more information about your brand to new visitors.
Google made Showcase Shopping ads available through beta in July 2017, and has just recently made them available in all accounts in Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland, India, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the UK, and the U.S. And you can only access them through the new AdWords interface.
Here’s how Showcase Shopping ads differ from the normal Shopping ads you already know and love. Rather than just a static, individual product image, you’ll get several images from your product catalog that turn into an expanding ad unit.
Here are some multi-image ads:
And here’s what it looks like when one of these ads are expanded:
Pretty cool, right? The images below the masthead and ad text are made of the product groups you choose to include in your Showcase ad group. And the best part? You don’t get charged just because someone expands your ad.
You only get charged when someone spends 10 seconds within the ad or clicks on one of your products and visits your site before then. That’s because Showcase ads use maximum CPE (cost per engagement) bidding.
In another difference from normal Shopping ads, you don’t set your bids at the product group level. Showcase ads have their bids set at the ad group level.
Now that you know the basics of what Showcase Shopping ads are, let’s dig into how to set them up.
How to Create Showcase Shopping Ads
The first step to creating Showcase Shopping ads is to log into the new interface, create a new Shopping campaign if you don’t have any, and create a Showcase ad group. When you create a new ad group, you’ll see this menu:
Next, you’ll get the option to select your product groups. These are going to be the products that show below your masthead image.
Because you set bids for Showcase ads at the product ad group level, you’ll want to avoid including all of your products in one ad group, because this will force you to have the same bid for all of your products.
Instead, you should organize your ad groups by similar products, especially if you have the design resources to create unique mastheads for different product categories. Better yet, if you already have Shopping campaign performance data, group by similar products with similar performance for even better bid management.
Now that you have a plan for organizing your product groups, let’s set up some ads. If you scroll a bit further down the Showcase Shopping ad menu, you’ll see where you can upload your masthead image.
When you upload your masthead image, make sure that dimensions are 1080 x 566, your image format is JPG or PNG, and that your file size is less than 10 MB. You’ll also want to make sure to feature at least one of your products and keep your image free of watermarks, promotional copy, or borders. This will be the masthead that shows once someone has expanded your ad.
You’ll notice that you also that you get to choose the image searchers see before they expand your ad between your header image or your product image. Ultimately, you should prioritize relevance here and and save talking about your brand for when someone opens the ad.
For example, based on these un-expanded ads, it’s clear that Rosegal sells summer dresses.
The image works well for a masthead, but not so much an un-expanded image, which would’ve worked better for a search like “kids clothing.”
All that being said, you don’t always need to choose a product image for your un-expanded ad. Here’s an example of a masthead that also works as an un-expanded image:
Just remember: your un-expanded image should be relevant to the product groups you’re targeting. Otherwise, you can use an image from your product feed.
Now that you’re just about done creating your first Showcase ad group, let’s talk about how to integrate Showcase ads into your overall Shopping strategy.
Integrating Showcase Ads into Google Shopping Strategy
Over 40% of Shopping searches are for broad terms, and Showcase ads are no exception. That combined with the fact that Showcase ads allow you to convey even more information about your brand than regular Shopping ads means you should prioritize your Showcase ads for new visitors, so that they can become more familiar with you before they even get to your website.
If you’re running a query-level bidding strategy for your Shopping campaigns, you can include Showcase ad groups in your non-branded campaign to focus these ads more intentionally on non-branded searches.
If you’re using a single Shopping campaign, you could add your Showcase ad group within that campaign, and add your brand terms as negative keywords at the ad group level to keep your Showcase ads open for non-branded searches.
These former two options are a solid way to start interacting with Showcase ads and collecting some data–but ultimately, you’ll want to create a separate campaign for your Showcase ads. Why go through all that trouble?
With a different ad format, you’ll likely get different kinds of engagement, which could affect the overall reporting you get from your Shopping campaign. In a similar vein, this different ad format also comes with a different bidding model — CPE, instead of whatever model you may already be running with your other Shopping ads. This could cause a difference in your overall costs that affects how you perceive the value of an individual Shopping campaign.
Structure Your Ad Groups by Your Product Categories
Because Showcase ads are meant for broader searches and have the most value with new visitors, think of your Showcase ads as an opportunity to guide potential new customers to the most relevant possible aisle of your store based on their search.
For example, if you sell security cameras, creating a product group based off your cameras category and using a masthead that shows those products in their natural context makes a lot of sense.
While we’re on the store aisle metaphor, know that this is not the time to use SPAGs. While granularity is awesome in PPC, SPAGs will not create a better experience for your audience. Why? Because whenever searchers expand your ad, they’ll open it up to see just one, lonesome product. In other words, a near-empty store aisle. You also won’t be able to serve impressions, because Showcase ad groups require a minimum of 10 products.
So, keep this in mind: if your Showcase ad groups are getting impressions but little to no engagements or clicks, the products you’re showing aren’t relevant or enticing enough. If you’re not getting impressions, your product groups contain too few products.
Remarket to Your New Visitors Through Shopping, Search, and Display
Because you’re dealing with new visitors, they may not all convert on their very first click — even if that click is through one of your awesome Showcase ads.
With that in mind, you’ll want to have remarketing audiences applied at the ad group level to your Search, Shopping, and Display campaigns. With the former two, you’ll be able to bid more aggressively for those recent visitors when they search for your products. And with Display ads, you’ll be able to remind those visitors even when they’re browsing on things like blogs and news sites.
While going into a full remarketing strategy is beyond the scope of this blog post, you should at least be remarketing to high intent audiences like these:
The important thing to remember here: don’t expect your new Showcase ad visitors to fully embrace you after just one visit. Use remarketing to nurture these visitors further down the funnel. Then, watch the sales come in.
Leverage the Power of Similar Audiences
One of the bigger factors surrounding AdWords going into 2018 is the growing importance of audiences, and how they can add even more intent for finding your ideal customer beyond a mere search term.
If you’ve created your remarketing audiences, you should have “Similar Audiences” that Google has automatically created based on each audience you created. These were originally available as Display network targeting–but around May 2017, Google made these available for Search and Shopping as well.
So, before we get into the details of how to set this up, you’re probably wondering: how similar are these audiences, exactly? A larger sample size of data (bigger remarketing audiences for Google to base the “similarity” off of) will help you get a more refined Similar Audience. But here’s Google’s example:
“Say you’ve created a remarketing list of people who bought running shoes from your sporting goods site. Instead of helping you reach broad groups of people interested in “running,” similar audiences will identify that people on this list tended to search for “triathlon training” and “buy lightweight running shoes” before coming to your site and making a purchase. Based on this, similar audiences will then find other people with similar search behavior, such as people who searched for ‘buy lightweight running shoes’.”
With that in mind, Similar Audiences should help you get better quality visitors–but because you’ll be adding these as a layer of additional targeting on top of your Showcase ad groups, you can collect data on these to gauge performance before you make any bid adjustments.
To add a Similar Audience, you’ll navigate to one of your new Showcase ad groups, and go to the Audiences tab:
Next, you’ll click the pencil icon on the Audiences tab, leave the Observation checked so that you add this audience on top of your current Shopping targeting, and expand Similar Audiences:
After you’ve checked all the Similar Audiences you’d like to add, just click save. Then, rinse and repeat. Refer back to the data under the Audience tab, so you can compare traffic from your Similar Audiences to the rest of your traffic and adjust your bids accordingly.
Wrap Up on Showcase Shopping Ads
Now, you should have a good idea of how to use Google’s newest ad format, and how they fit into your overall Shopping strategy. Showcase Shopping ads let you showcase more of your band than you’ve ever been able to present on Google Shopping. This extra information that you’re able to convey has the most value with people who are still getting to know you than people who regularly buy from you. Make a good first impression and show multiple relevant products to these searchers.
Also, keep in mind that Google Shopping is – at its core – a comparison shopping engine. Because of that, expect your new visitors to check out similar products from competitors. While that may sound scary, you don’t have to worry about your new visitors’ first visit being their last if you continue to nurture them further into your funnel with RLSA and display remarketing. You also have the option to refine the intent of your new visitors by supercharging your Showcase ad group audiences with Similar Audiences.
How have you used Showcase Shopping ads? Have you taken any approaches I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments.