A Shift to Shopping Ads

Shopping ads are becoming a more and more prevalent feature of Google’s search results. Retailers clearly seem to be jumping on board with this ad format. I’ll be running though a few key trends we have been seeing across our retail accounts. All the data in this article looks at accounts that have been running shopping (formerly product listing ads) and search ads since July 2012 consistently.

Increased Investment Is Being Pushed Into Shopping Over Search


Overall our retailers are investing more in PPC year on year as they see the positive impact to their business. The interesting trend is that shopping ads are the format receiving this additional budget. This is down to retailers putting more time and attention into shopping due to the strong performance they drive. Google has been constantly testing and changing the shape, size, information, and location of the shopping ad unit. The most significant change was the move of shopping ads to the very top of the search results in March 2014.

Strong ROIs Are Allowing Advertisers to Push Shopping Bids


We have also seen CPCs grow significantly for shopping. Knowledge on how to run an efficient search campaign is very developed and several years ahead of shopping. The tools we have in AdWords to optimize search campaigns are also more sophisticated. With this, search CPCs haven’t significantly changed year on year. For our retailers we see them reducing slightly as we continue to trim the waste from search campaigns. The increase in shopping CPCs was more significant in 2013 and then slowed in 2014 suggesting shopping CPCs are following the same pattern as search. As the shopping campaign interface is further developed in AdWords I see investment continuing to increase, but CPCs are likely to hit their maximum point.


The Growth of Mobile Clicks Is More Accelerated on Shopping

Shopping ads only became available on mobile in early 2013. In the first quarter of 2015, 38 percent of shopping clicks were from mobile. This is interesting to see, as in comparison search ads are only seeing 29 percent of clicks from mobile. When looking at desktop vs. mobile results it is easy to see why. Shopping offers a more efficient user journey. When on mobile, this is likely to be a larger priority to a user than on desktop.



Looking at click-through rate (CTR) by device for shopping ads mobile has always been above that of desktop. The amount of choice on desktop is vaster so this is understandable. It will be interesting to see how Google continues to test the appearance of shopping over 2015. The other interesting trend when looking at shopping is that CTR actually looks to be decreasing despite the fact that shopping ads now appear in a more dominant position on search results. The likely cause of the decrease is due to more advertisers entering the shopping ad space. Google has also increased the number of units that do appear.


Search CTR in Position One Is Decreasing


We are seeing desktop and mobile CTR drop in position one currently. This directly correlates with the presence of shopping increasing. When shopping first started growing CTR took a hit. Mobile decrease in early 2013 with mobile PLAs now appearing. CTR on both devices decreased through 2014, with the major change being shopping ads appearing above search ads. Unfortunately this trend is assumed as we currently don’t have visibility of where shopping appeared on the page and how often our shopping and search ads overlapped. This report has been on my wish list for a while now.

What to Expect This Year

It is likely that shopping is likely to become more saturated as more businesses increase their presence. Knowledge of feed best practice is increasing in the industry, allowing more advertisers to appear on more relevant queries. New features have been and are likely to continue being released to help optimize campaigns but also improve user experience to continue increasing the users going through shopping. Google will continue to develop features such as local inventory ads and Google wallet to become a central point for consumers.

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