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7 min read

Google Shopping Ads – Not Just For Online Sales

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Shopping campaigns are not only there to help you gain a strong ROAS and online sales; used in the right formats they can increase your visits, new customers and your brand awareness consequently boosting your business’s profit.


First, it is worth looking at the basics of where this all starts, your shopping feed. Nurturing your shopping feed can determine how well your ads can perform. The data in which you input into this is vital to show in the shopping space.

  • Ensure that all fields are filled out
  • Product titles – always keep in mind your customer and what they are likely to be searching for i.e brand, product title, category, size. 
    • 80% of all shopping terms are matched to product titles.
  • Utilise custom labels – optimise different brackets within your feed (margin, product type, campaigns etc). For higher profit margin lines you would want to target a lower ROAS using labels. This is so that the products get more exposure which in turn will help to sell more of these products and gain a higher profit and the contrary for lower margin items. 

Impact from stores

The high street has for a long time been struggling to keep up with online shopping and hence it is important to focus on how you can help improve the store’s presence on Google to improve footfall. Look into Google my business, LIAS, Store visits & even store sales set up and notice the difference.

LIAs (Local Inventory Ads)

This format showcases your products and shops information to nearby users searching with Google. When users click an ad they arrive on a Google-hosted page, called the local storefront. They can use the local storefront to view in-store inventory, get opening times and find directions

Benefits of using LIA ads:

  • LIAs are one of the very few ways to present a truly omnichannel experience to customers and hero stores further online.
  • Over the last few years Google have been preferring LIA ads and hence brands that are using them are likely to have a visibility advantage.
  • Lets users know that stores have the items they are looking for, at the very moment they search online.
  • Monitor the impact your digital ads have on footfall per city and per category.

When using LIA ads it is important to set the radius to a realistic mileage, for example, a customer is unlikely to travel for more than 5 miles to their nearest store. These ads are a great way of showing customers that you also have a local store presence. During current Covid-19 circumstances, it is worthwhile considering pausing LIA ads if stores are shut. 

If you are wanting to run LIAs ensure the 5 below points are all met

  1. Shopping feed is in ‘good shape’.
  2. Google map listings – ensure all store listings are up to date with correct information as this is what the customer will see.
  3. Store inventory file – Create a file whereby you have all stores, products stock etc that matches your Google shopping feed.
  4. Consider launching LIAs in a staggered approach depending on the size of your inventory.
  5. Decide on how you are going to process the LIA file – feed provider, yourself or agency.

Store Sales & Visits

It is important to differentiate between store sales & visits.

Store visits – recorded if a user visits a store within a 14 day window following a PPC click

Store sales – recorded if a user has shopped within the past 30 days

Store Visits

Reviewing the performance of store visits can indicate the difference in product performance online and offline; you can make your LIA ads more specific based upon this data. It is likely for high priced products when customers tend to be less impulsive that store visits are higher.

Store visits work on the following basis : Time at location, Google map searches, Google web searches.

Store Sales

Google store sales can help businesses understand what the impact of online activity has on stores.

In 2016, 85% of purchases happen offline so the reliance on digital, particularly through mobile has changed the way customers research and buy.

Having this data then enables a deeper insight into consumer and category behaviour and can be used to report on the complete omnichannel cycle.

Store sales help conclude performance from LIAs & store visits by confirming how many of the clicks contributed to an instore purchase. 

In a case study where a large health & beauty retailer ran store sales they found that:

  • 1 in 4 customers who clicked a PPC ad visited a store.
  • Also for every £1 they delivered via web sales, they also drove & assisted with an additional £6.4 in store. This shows the vital role that PPC can play in driving online & also in-store sales.
  • When customers engage with a specific PPC ad, they are more likely to purchase from that category in store. 

Increasing Reach

When most people think of seeing shopping ads, they predominantly think of Google & Bing but there are plenty of other platforms that you can look to expand on to grow your reach.

  • Don’t just restrict inventory to appear on Google and Bing. Expand this into youtube, gmail & smart shopping. These are all platforms where your products can appear and gain a good return.
    • Smart shopping can be a great way of pushing your poor performing products and group them into one campaign with the aim of increasing their performance, setting them up separately to the rest of the feed. Smart shopping can be a great visual way of showcasing these.
  • Showcase shopping ads are another way of getting additional customers. This version of shopping is a strong way of gaining customers who haven’t yet decided on their chosen retailer/brand and are still in the consideration phase. Therefore these are best used for more generic search queries. These can be beneficial if you are wanting to reach new customers and are great for inspiration, similar to ads used on social channels.
    • These can tend to have a lower ROI compared to standard PLA ads so ensure that expectations are clear before running these.
    • It can best to run showcase ads for different product types and then have an ad group that is set up to catch all products in the feed rather than a set product group. This way you have specific ads for specific product types and then the ‘catch all’ ad is then able to capture all other generic searches.

The difference in PLAs & showcase ads can be seen below

CSS (Comparison Shopping Service)

Following a ruling by the EU commission, Google have created a separate business for their shopping comparison sites and enabled other comparison sites to enter the shopping auction.

A commercial benefit of using a CSS is that the retailer can pay 20% less using a CSS for the same level of traffic. Companies can use these savings to grow their account leading to an increase in overall traffic & sales.

By utilizing both your Google shopping and a CSS shopping feed companies can double their ad presence by appearing twice in the same auction. Given that a high proportion of ad spend now comes through shopping campaigns this can be a great way companies can expand their reach in the shopping space which in turn can improve their ROI for their account.


I would begin by thinking of your business objectives and KPIS.

If you are a brand or retailer that wants to focus on profit & margin, begin by looking into where you can improve your product data in your feed. Utilise the custom labels in your merchant centre to help you optimize towards the higher profit lines.

To broaden your reach for new customers as well as gaining brand awareness have a think about whether different shopping formats are the way forward for you. These could include smart shopping or showcase ads. Run a test and learn campaign on a few products and see if you see an uplift in performance from these.

Finally, try not to be selfish and just think of the online benefit. Stores can benefit greatly with footfall by using local inventory ads. Go even further and tie up your whole omnichannel process by using store sales direct.

Show your business the real impact that Google shopping can have for the omnichannel buying process.