Are you one of the many merchants apprehensive about the Google Shopping changes coming in fall? You aren’t alone but we are here to help. Google Product Search was essentially a “set it and forget it” proposition. Most merchants would feed products and never really check into Google Merchant Center to evaluate performance. After all the listings were free.
Sure, it’s reasonable to be concerned that what was once free will now cost you something. It will also require a more detail oriented focus to optimize Product Listing Ads on Google Shopping compared to the current Google Product Search. In fact, the new Google Shopping will require two pieces. First, feeding products to Google to be available to use with Product Listing Ads. Secondly, you’ll need to create, manage and optimize the paid ads. Google Shopping is really a hybrid of a traditional Comparison Shopping Engine and a pay to play ad service.
Though the changes can be daunting, we feel they will ultimately benefit merchants by leveling the playing field.
We’ll be doing posts frequently as new information becomes available for strategy and implementation. Today’s blog post the first of a series to help you through the changes.
Step 1: Check the Google AdWords guidelines!
The first thing you should do is be aware of Google AdWords guidelines. AdWords is pretty strict when it comes to what you can and can’t promote on the Google Search, Search Partner and Display Network pages, whereas Google Shopping has typically been less stringent on what you can and can’t promote.
Now that all listings for Google Shopping will be funneled through the AdWords platform, it’s important to begin familiarizing yourself what is and isn’t allowed to be promoted.
Here are some areas we’ve identified where merchants may run into problems:
- Healthcare/Medicines: This is perhaps the most troublesome industry for Google AdWords, because (it seems) many merchants are flagged inappropriately for selling “drugs” or “medicines” that aren’t approved. Case in point: a merchant selling vitamins and supplements that have ingredients similar to drug names may be flagged, even if the products don’t contain drugs.
- To get such products approved through AdWords, you may need to call the Google Helpline at 1-866-2GOOGLE. As of right now, Google AdWords doesn’t have a spot in AdWords Editor, the offline editing platform PPC Specialists use, to request exceptions to show PLAs, so calling the 866 number is the best way to go.
Other reasons for healthcare/medicine exclusions may be that a pharmaceutical product or supplement makes a claim that can’t be substantiated, may actually contain dangerous ingredients, may be a non-certified pharmacy, and more.
For more information on what is and isn’t allowed to be advertised through AdWords, visit this page on the Google Help Center.
- Tobacco Products: Now available for sale on Google Shopping, cigars, cigarettes and the like aren’t allowed in AdWords, so merchants selling those kind of products may want to get more aggressive on other paid engines. Products such as cigar flasks and holders are still fair game in AdWords.
- Other prohibited categories Google has mentioned in updates (some of which were previously allowed in Google AdWords) include: vehicles; guns, ammunition and knives; tobacco and cigarettes; traffic devices; products relating to casino and gambling; products or digital goods that require additional software installation in order to be purchased; and products bundled with service plans.
While we’re staying up on updates as they become available from Google, the best thing you can do now is watch your Product Feed. Make sure nothing is being disapproved. Check your email inbox to ensure you haven’t received any store-specific notifications from Google yet.
And the fun part: Keep checking your listings on Google Shopping to see if you’re competitors are still showing. Our guess: many are about to back out because this change can be scary without the right system or support in place. Don’t back out—let us help!