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Free Google Shopping Ads: How Ecommerce Brands Can Maximise This Opportunity

why google shopping ads are now free

In a surprise move, Google have made Google Shopping Ads free in the US from the end of April 2020. And this should be in the UK by the end of the year, probably before the build up to Black Friday and Christmas.

So if you’re a marketer with an ecommerce website, what does this mean for you? And what further action do you need to take to leverage on this opportunity?

Paid Product Listing Ads

If you are running paid Product Listing Ads (PLAs), you’re 95% ready for this already. You’ve already set up your product feed via the Google Merchant Center. Just double check you’ve opted in to the “Surfaces across Google” program. So when Google flick the switch in the UK, your free PLAs will run alongside your current paid PLAs.

Mixture of Paid and Free in Google Shopping

There’s plenty of speculation how this will play out and display in the Google Shopping area. It’s likely paid PLAs will feature above free PLAs. Free PLAs may only be visible higher up for less competitive and or particularly niche product searches. And how the free vs paid listings display will dictate what strategies to then apply.

How to Plan for Free Google Shopping Ads

So what can you do now to make sure you will be one of the first to have free listings in Google Shopping?

  1. Make All Products Available – make sure all of your product range is accessible in Google Merchant Center. You may have tuned your inventory for PLAs to those that give the best Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), and deindexed the rest of your stock. Don’t undo this fine tuning, but just make sure all of your products are there – it’s the more niche and less searched for that might really fly more with free ads.
  2. Fine Tune – revisit your less popular and niche products and optimise them properly for longer tail keyword searches. Think size, colour, brand, and product category used in various combinations. e.g. size 16 white Gorsenia briefs – potential customers search in weird and wonderful ways ! In the past, it may not have been worth it as they didn’t feature in Google Shopping; that’s no longer the case.
  3. Prepare for the Unexpected – no one knows how this new hybrid shopping space of free and paid PLAs will play out. But once it does, keep an eye on what is getting listed, learn from that, and apply to other products you feel could get visibility as a free product ad.

If you’re scratching your head wondering why the heck Google is doing this, check out our article Are They Mad? 3 Reasons Why Google Has Changed to Free Google Shopping Ads. Hint: Amazon might be the biggest reason !

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