What’s the Big Difference Between Google Shopping & Google AdWords Search?

google shopping difference from google search

In this video, Kirk talks about the primary difference between Google Shopping Ads and Google Search Ads. If you want to skip the video, just read the transcript provided below. Also, note that Bing Ads and Bing Shopping work in the same way!

Video Transcript

I had the privilege last week of going to Austin, Texas, where I presented on Google Shopping Ads at Hero Conf. Hero Conf is awesome. If you love PPC, you should go to Hero Conf. A bunch of us PPCers get together and just talk all things PPC. Enough of an advertisement about Hero Conf though…I didn’t get paid to say that (although I really do love it).

The purpose of my session was to introduce Google Shopping to people who are new to Google Ads, but also people who have been running Google Ads for lead generation and search for a long time, but have never run shopping ads, because Google Shopping is fairly different from Search.

So, the purpose of this short video is to give you insight into what I see as the core difference of shopping and search. If you understand this, a lot of the rest of it is going to make sense as you get into the actionable and practical side of things, because you can find plenty of articles and guides on the technical aspects of setting up shopping campaigns.

The most crucial aspect that differentiates search and shopping ads is that shopping ads are a feed based advertising system.

Search Ads

With search ads, you are literally setting bids on a form of communication. Whether a user does a physical search on their computer or phone, or if they do a voice search, these are all forms of communication. They are producing a query and we (as the search advertisers) see that query and we set a bid based upon how we value the buying intent of that query. There is a lot of other stuff going on in the background obviously, but at the core, that’s what is happening.

For example: let’s say I have a client that sells Force FX light sabers. A searcher goes to Google and searches for the term“light stick”.  There doesn’t seem to be much buying intent with this query. Their intent could be anything. They could be referring to those little neon glow sticks.

Let’s say another user does a search for “I want to buy a really awesome Force FX light saber right now”.  Hey, now that’s a lot of buying intent. They’ve communicated an immediate time frame for purchase. They used the phrase “I want to buy”. They have clearly stated which product they want to buy. It’s clear that this user has a strong intent to buy my client’s product so I’m going to bid more on this keyword because there is more purchase intent.

Hooray! This system’s awesome. Search is awesome. Keywords are awesome.

Shopping Ads

Shopping Ads work differently though. Shopping Ads are based on a product data feed.

Product data is pushed to Google and Bing, and they take that data and align it with search queries. That means that the way that we have to think about bidding is quite a bit different. Instead of bidding based on a specific purchase intent for that keyword, you’re setting a bid at the product group level. That can be setting the bid based on product category, or even on one unique product or SKU. Even then though, you’re only setting a bid on that product.

So if you set a bid of $1.50 on the Force FX light saber, Google will look in your product data feed and they’ll essentially lump the 150,000 users searching for ‘light stick’ together with the six users searching for ‘I want to buy a really awesome Force FX light saber right now’ and target them with the same bid. As the advertiser, we aren’t able to determine our own idea of buying intent and bid according to that, like you can in Search.

You can see one of the core differences between shopping and search is bidding and therefore we need to figure out how can we build a system in shopping campaigns that allows for better bidding on specific queries. I won’t get into that here, but you take a look at this article I wrote on Search Engine Land, that outlines a method for structuring shopping campaigns that uses priority systems for bidding according to search query.