What are Google Shopping Ads and How to Create One

Right now you have millions of potential customers searching for products like yours online each day. Google accounts for 63% of where consumers start their shopping experience. As shopping trends continue to evolve, consumers value websites, reviews, and convenience more than ever. Google Shopping Ads are one way to easily expand your online presence and boost sales.

What You'll Learn In This Guide

Google Free Listings vs Google Shopping Ads

Google Free Listings

Through syncing your e-commerce catalog with Google for Retail, your products will be added as a free listing for relevant Google searches on the Shopping tab. This means your store will have more visibility on the Google Search tab, Maps tab for local search, and Shopping tab.

For more information, visit our Google Shopping free listing guide.

Google Shopping Ads

Just as you can run Google ads to have greater visibility on the Google Search tab, you can implement Google Shopping Ad campaigns through your Google for Retail integration. Google Shopping Ads are designed for e-commerce to market specific products to interested shoppers and direct them to your online product page.

Google for Retail has optimized ads for e-commerce shopping and now 60% of all paid clicks come from Shopping Ads, making it one of the most successful ways to reach online consumers.

Why You Should Use Google Shopping Ads

Creating Shopping Ads allow Google to work its magic with an algorithm that displays your product in front of the right people. This means your product can jump to the top of a number of search results. Additionally, you can optimize your listing even further on Shopping Ads to set your products apart from free listings.


  • Easy advertising with high ROI

  • More qualified potential customers

  • Promote sales and special offers

  • Detailed reporting gives you better insight into what products are performing well

  • Gain audience insights around your customers’ preferences and demographics

  • Increases brand awareness

  • Mobile-friendly search experience

Where Your Shopping Ad Can Live

  • Google Shopping tab

  • Google Search

  • On search partner websites

  • On Google’s price comparison Shopping service and apps

  • YouTube

  • Google Display Network

What You Need to Launch Your First Shopping Ad

E-Commerce Site That Integrates With Google For Retail

Shopping Ads work by pulling product listings on an e-commerce site connected with Google for Retail and displaying them on the Search and Shopping tabs. When a potential customer clicks on your Shopping Ad, they will be directed to your website where they can complete the purchase experience.

If you have an e-commerce platform, you can manually build out products within your Google Merchant Center account. Each product needs its own e-commerce product page to link to so shoppers can click on the ad and checkout on your website.

Thrive is able to automate this process and sync your catalog with Google Merchant Center if you have an active Google for Retail integration with Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce.

Google Merchant Center Account

Before you can connect your Thrive account with Google for Retail you will need to set up your Google Merchant Center account. This is where your product catalog will sync to along with other product details required by Google.

To learn how to create your Google Merchant Center account view our Help Center set up guide.

When you create your account you will need to verify your website. We recommend using the HTML tag avenue. It requires adding a bit of code to the backend of your website but is the simplest way to give Google access. Then follow the instructions to claim your website.

You will also have to complete the following information in your Merchant Center account before your products can go live on Google Shopping Ads:

  • Shipping information

  • Tax information

  • Business display name

  • Business address

  • Phone number

    • You will have to verify this via automated phone call or text

  • Customer service contact information

    • URL

    • Email

    • Phone number

Once your Google Merchant Center account is fully set up for Google Shopping Ads, connect it to your Thrive account to easily manage your catalog and inventory for all your sales channels.

Google Ads Account

Here is where all your Shopping Ad campaigns will live and where you can manage your budgets and bids, view performance, and make any needed adjustments. If you don’t already have a Google Ads account you will first need to create one using your same login information as your Google Merchant Center account.

After you have opened up your Google Ads account, you will need to connect it with your Google Merchant Center account. In your Merchant Center account go to “Settings” and click “Linked Accounts.” Navigate to “Go to Google Ads” and click “Link.”

Follow the instructions and open your Google Ads account to approve the “Request from Google Merchant Center” access notification. Once you complete that action your link status will update to active in Google Merchant Center.

How To Write A Great Product Listing For Google

Unlike Google Search ads, you don’t need to identify and bid on specific keywords. Instead, Google looks at your Google Merchant Center product feeds and your e-commerce site to determine what search terms your product is relevant for. That means it’s essential that you optimize your product listings on Thrive with keyword rich descriptions and strong photography to be placed in front of the right shoppers.

Google Shopping Ad Product Listing Requirements

  • Product title

  • Product description

  • Product category

  • Product ID

  • Product’s e-commerce landing page

  • Image URL

  • Product availability

  • Product price

  • Product brand

You’ll want to build out all the above information in Thrive and then we’ll push it over to your Merchant Center account once you are connected to Google for Retail. You will also need to determine shipping and tax information, which you’ll add directly into your Merchant Center account.

It’s important to note, that while Thrive syncs all updated product data to Google within 30 minutes, it can take Google up to 3 days to approve a product listing for Google Shopping Ads.

For more information about the above product details and additional conditional ones, such as condition and color, check out Google’s Product Data Specification guide.

Create Your First Google Shopping Ad

By now you have your Thrive, Google Merchant Center, and Google Ads accounts setup and connected. Additionally, your product listings in Thrive should be rich and optimized so Google’s algorithm can place it in relevant search results. At this point, you’re ready to create your first Google Shopping Ad.

Though your Google product catalog lives in your Google Merchant account, Google Ads is where you build and manage Shopping Ad campaigns.

There are a couple of ways to create Shopping Ads but we recommend using Smart Shopping campaigns to start with.

Google Smart Shopping Ads

This method is easy to set up and you won’t have to worry about maintaining your ads too much once they are up and running. As we mentioned before, Google does all the heavy lifting to determine what search terms your product is relevant for. You can even choose to have Google maximize your conversion value. Additionally, Smart Shopping includes dynamic remarketing ads to target consumers who have landed on your website.

Smart Shopping campaigns have some limitations, including not being able to add negative keywords or have full control over optimizing performance. For most businesses starting out with Google Shopping Ads, Smart Shopping is still the preferred way since they typically work as well as Standard Shopping campaigns if your product listings are optimized. However, once you’re comfortable with Shopping Ads, you can always launch Standard Shopping Ads if you’re ready for greater control and visibility of your performance.

Here’s How To Launch Your First Google Smart Shopping Campaign

You’ll start in Google Ads by clicking on “New Campaign.” Be sure to check “Sales” as your campaign goal and “Shopping” as your campaign type to let Google know you want to connect with your Google Merchant Center account.

You will then be prompted to select your Google Merchant Center account, which should already be connected. Next choose the countries you want to sell your products in and then click on the “Smart Shopping campaign” option.

Continue filling out your campaign name, a daily budget, and determine a bid strategy. You can either choose a target ROAS or, if you want Google to maximize your conversion value, simply leave it blank.

Now you’ll select the products you want in this ad campaign by clicking on “All products.” That will give you all the approved products from your Google Merchant Center feed to choose from.

If you have your Google for Retail integration turned on, your Shopping Ad account will auto-fill the product image and details from Thrive.

If you want Google to display dynamic remarketing ads, ensure you add your logo and any additional product images.

That’s it! You’re ready to launch your first Google Shopping Ad!

More Ways To Optimize Your Ads

In addition to keyword rich product titles and descriptions, there are a couple more ways to make your ad standout.

Special Offers

Don’t limit sales and special offers to in-store only, now you can promote offers such as free shipping or a coupon code on your Google Shopping Ad.

Before you can create a promotion, you need to receive approval from Google. You can either reach out to a Google Ads representative where you can get whitelisted for promotions or complete this Merchant Promotions interest form.

Once Google has responded to your request you can build your promotions directly in your Google Merchant Center account:

Marketing Tab: This is ideal if you have a promotion that applies to all products on your Merchant Center feed, like free shipping or a year end 25% off sale.

Promotional Feed: Otherwise, if you have promotions that apply to specific products navigate to the “+Data Feed” button in the feeds section and select the “Promotions” type.

Visit Google’s Help Center to learn more about creating promotions.

Product Reviews

Almost 90% of consumers read online reviews before purchasing a product. Also, according to Google, search terms like “best” have grown by 125% over the past few years. Google’s algorithm values reviews linked in Shopping Ads as well.

Like special offers, you must first fill out a product ratings interest form to be approved by Google. It tends to take Google up to 15 days to approve your request before any reviews appear on your Shopping Ads.

Google requires you to have at least 50 total reviews before it will be considered. There are three ways you can collect reviews for your Shopping Ads:

Review Aggregators: If you want to work with third-party review aggregators, like Annex Cloud or TargetBay, Google will populate reviews on your Shopping Ad directly from those platforms. However, some third-party review platforms have an additional fee associated with them.

Google Merchant Center Account: For this method, you can enter product reviews into a Review Feed, similar to a Promotions Feed, in your Merchant Center account. First, you must fill out a product ratings interest form to be approved by Google. It can take Google up to 15 days to approve your request before you can add reviews in your feed.

Google Customer Reviews: This is a free Google service you can sign up for that collects reviews, via a survey on the checkout page, from customers who made a purchase on your website.

For more information utilizing reviews for your Shopping Ads visit Google’s Product Ratings basics guide.

Measuring Your Google Shopping Ads Results

Once you turn your Shopping Ad on, your work isn’t done quite yet. It’s essential that you continue to monitor your ads’ performance and make any needed adjustments. Your Google Merchant Center feed is where you’ll go to see any product issues flagged by Google that may result in your ad being taken down. Once you update those issues you’ll see that product status change.

Conversion Tracking

We recommend that you implement Google’s conversion tracking tag to gain greater insight on how a Shopping Ad click leads to specific activities on your website, like a purchase or newsletter sign-up. This will be the most accurate source for analyzing performance, such as which products are selling the best and who your customers are.

Make More Informed Business Decisions

Also, track which products are performing well and which aren’t. If a specific type of product is earning you more traffic and sales than others, consider adding similar products to your inventory and promote them with Shopping Ads.

On the flipside, if a product is not selling as well, consider ways to optimize your listing. That might mean changing out a product photo or adding more detailed product descriptions. Give a new product or any changes 15 days for Google to optimize the algorithm before you analyze results and make additional updates. If you test a couple of changes and a product still isn’t meeting your expectations, it’s best to stop running that ad and dedicate that budget to better performing ones.

Creating a Google Shopping Ad may seem overwhelming at first, but with the help of this guide and Thrive’s Google for Retail integration you’ll be up and running in no time. Shopping Ads are one of the most successful ways of reaching new customers as they shop online to grow your business.

All Features Available During Your 30-Day Free Trial
All the tools you need to grow your business
Starting at $79/mo
Starting at $199/mo
Starting at $399/mo
Starting at $799/mo
Locations / Integrations
Transactions Per Month
Products / Items / SKUs
Order History
3 Years
Reporting History
3 Years
Product Catalog Management
Catalog / Menu Management
SKU Creation
Lot Costs
Modifier Configuration
Pricing Calculator
Expiration Dates
Price Tag / Label Printing
Spreadsheet Bulk Upload
Average Costs
Inventory Management
Min / Max Levels
Low Stock Alerts
Stocktakes and Approvals
Basic Internal Transfers
Basic Purchase Orders
Modifiers Inventory Tracking
Kits / Bundles
Recipe / Ingredient Managment
Bill of Materials
Automated Purchase Orders
Automated Stock Transfers
Barcodes & Labels
Barcode Generation
Dymo Label Printing
Brother Label Printing
Avery Label Printing
Scan-to-Create Stocktakes
Scan-to-Create Invoices
Scan-to-Create Purchase Orders
Scan-to-Create Transfers
Custom Dashboards
Sales Goal Tracking
Franchise Reporting
Product Profitability Reports
Inventory Change Reports
Dead Inventory Reports
Inventory Valuation Reports
Low Inventory Reports
Unsold Product Reports
Saved Reports
Region / District Reporting
Scheduled Reports
Intelligent Stock Forecasting
Customer Managment
Dynamic Price Lists
Wholesale Reporting
Payment Terms
Theft / Discount Tracking
Multifactor Authentication
User Access Permissions
Live Chat
Dedicated Account Manager
Professional Services
Account Implementation
Get Quote
Get Quote
Get Quote
Get Quote
Catalog Migration
Get Quote
Get Quote
Get Quote
Get Quote
Product Creation
Get Quote
Get Quote
Get Quote
Get Quote
Global Currency Support
Dashboard Reporting App
Barcode Scanner App
Alexa Voice Command
Additional Transactions Available
Google for Retail Integration
QuickBooks Online Integration
Beta Feature Access