Blog: What is the difference between Google Ads and Google Shopping? - OrbitWeb

Rigo Guadron / November 8, 2021

This is a great question! In this post, you will learn the difference between Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads to help you understand which is the best for your business. 

Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) and Google Shopping (previously Google Product Listing Ads (PLA)) are search display ads and are both excellent ways to draw more traffic and conversions to your site. 

Let’s start with the basics. 

What is Google Ads? 

Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) is Google’s advertising program. Through Google Ads, you can create online text ads to reach people exactly where they’re interested in the services you offer. You can customize your ad, set a budget and pricing that’s comfortable for you, and easily measure how your ads are doing. 

What do Google Search Ads look like? 

When someone searches on Google, the top 4 results and bottom 2 on the results are usually paid results. In the example below, the keyword “ceramic cups” brought up these two paid ads. The text-only results with the word ‘ad’ next to them are Search Ads. 

The Power of Keywords 

Keywords are words or phrases that are related to your business or services. Keywords are also the terms you think your potential customers are likely to use when searching for your product or service. 

For example, if you own a residential cleaning service and offer same-day service, you can think about the terms your potential customers would type in a search. “Housecleaning” “same-day service.” You may consider creating a Google Ad with these terms. When someone searches Google using “House cleaning services” or a similar term, your ad might appear next to Google search results, or on other related websites. 

What is a Google Ad Campaign? 

Google Ads campaign is a set of one or more ad groups (ads, keywords, and bids) that share a budget, location targeting, and other settings. Campaigns are typically used to organize categories of products or services offered by an advertiser.

What is Google Shopping Ads? 

Google Shopping Ads or Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are product-based ads that show up when someone searches for a product across Google and Google Shopping. 

They’re created using data from the product information you submit in the Google Merchant Center data feed. Google Shopping Ads are displayed to people who are already searching for the kinds of products you advertise.

You can customize your ad content, set a budget and pricing that’s comfortable for you, and easily measure how your ads are doing.

What do Google Shopping Ads look like? 

When a user uses Google to search for a product, advertisers and merchants who use Google Shopping Ads will appear at the top of the search results. See the example below. I typed in the keyword “beach sandals.” The top results were Google Shopping Ads related to my search.

You’ll notice right away that Google Shopping Ads show three (3) primary pieces of information for the product. 

  1. Title 
  2. Image
  3. Price

So, which one should you use for your business?

Google Ads or text ads and Google Shopping Ads are both seen when making a search on Google. 

The truth is that there is no one size fits all solution. You could run one or both. But all of this depends on your: 

  • Industry
  • Type of Website
  • Profit margins per item
  • Levels of competition for your items
  • Average CPC (cost-per-click) for each item
  • Demand for your products
  • Awareness of your products (e.g. do you sell something people haven’t heard of before)

If you are a service-based business then Google Ads is for you. If you don’t have a physical product, you cannot advertise on Google Shopping (unless you are selling software or something of that sort). 

Google doesn’t accept images for text ads. Google Ads will be a benefit if most of your business is run through a brick-and-mortar establishment. You will be able to advertise your business hours, and contact information. 

Choose Google Ads if:

  • You’re selling services rather than physical products
  • You’re selling lessons or tickets 
  • The images related don’t comply with Google’s policies

When to use Google Shopping Ads?

If you are an online retailer, Google Shopping Ads is for you. If also have a product that you believe people will search for then Google Shopping Ads is for you. 

Why not combine Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads? 

“There are instances where we need to combine both Google Shopping Ads and Google Ads as a strategy to maximize visibility,” says Rigo Guadron CEO at OrbitWeb.

The great thing about this strategy is that Google text ads can show up alongside Google Shopping Ads. 

5 Reasons to use both Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads

  1. Greater exposure and visibility
  2. Give competitors less space on the SERP
  3. Reinforce your branding message and image
  4. Strengthen your promotional message. More text and more content to show. 
  5. Ad extensions can add relevant information and call out other products, promotions etc. 

Final Thoughts

As seen from above both Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads have their benefit and limitations. It may take a few tests to see which one works best for your business. Keep an eye on which ad type is driving the best conversion value. 

We recommend using both whenever possible. If you are interested in knowing more about our strategies and how they can help your business, contact us here at OrbitWeb. We can help you create engaging campaigns on Google.

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