Showcase Shopping Ads: Setup & Optimization Guide

By Tinuiti Team

Since their release over two years ago, Google Showcase Shopping ads have become a powerful ad format that enables brands to insert themselves earlier in the shopper journey when users are exploring products using non-branded searches (e.g. summer dresses).

For retailers, it gives shoppers a chance to browse a catalog of your products related to their search query — without ever having to leave their browser.

Here’s a quick look at how Showcase Shopping ads work, how to set them up in Google Ads, and some best practices from the experts.

“Any retailers with intentions of growing should be running Showcase shopping, as the format is increasingly important for upper funnel visibility this holiday season.”


-Josh Brisco, Senior Manager of Retail Search Operations at CPC Strategy


What are Google Showcase Shopping ads?


Google Showcase Shopping ads are shoppable ads that appear at the top of the Google Search when a user searches for broad, non-branded keywords on mobile devices. 

Clicking on the featured image expands the ad into a scrollable catalog of a brand’s products related to the search query.



google showcase shopping ads


Google Showcase Shopping ads require a featured lifestyle image, along with two smaller side images (all related to the initial product search).

Advertisers can also include a “promotional message” or identify the distance to make a purchase (Local Inventory ads).


Showcase Shopping Ads 2018 Performance Update


It’s worth noting that our Paid Search experts started seeing dramatic performance increases in Showcase Shopping campaigns beginning in mid-2018.

“We continue to see a large uptick in impressions for Showcase Shopping campaigns beginning in the summer with the trend escalating into Q4,” says Brisco.


showcase shopping impressions increase
One of our clients received an enormous increase of 14 million impressions over a three-month period using Showcase Shopping ad campaigns.


“It’s become clear that this is an ad format that continues to grow in importance as Google continues to push it to retailers, with mobile discovery continuing to grow, and impressions continue to rise.”

It’s a markedly different outlook from two years ago when advertisers were skeptical over the lack of control they had over which products displayed for broad searches.

“Google has opened up more tools for advertisers to curate their products. This also includes isolation bidding strategies for Google Shopping that allow advertisers to optimize their product mix and ease targeting queries.”

lewis brannon senior retail search manager

Lewis Brannon, Paid Search Manager at CPC Strategy


How Much Do Google Showcase Shopping Ads Cost?


Showcase ads are charged on cost-per-engagement (CPE) bidding.

Google counts an engagement when someone clicks and expands the Showcase Shopping ad and spends 10 seconds or more within the ad or clicks a product link.

Advertisers are not charged if a user clicks on the collapsed ad or if they click after the engagement.


Showcase Shopping Ads Specs


Header: 1200 X 628 px for best quality across all devices.

Headline Text: 24 characters maximum.

Description: 120 characters maximum.

Final URL: URL the user will land on after they click on a product in the expanded ad

Display URL:  URL that is visible in the ad, 25 characters are shown on mobile, 35 characters are shown on desktop


How To Set Up Showcase Shopping Ads


1. Log in to your Google Ads account.

2. From the left, select Campaigns.

3. Click the blue plus symbol and select New campaign.


showcase shopping ads set up 1


4. Select a Shopping campaign and link your Merchant Center Account.

5. Name your campaign and create a Showcase ad group.


showcase shopping ads set up


Showcase Shopping Ads Best Practices


1. Make A Good First Impression With Your Header Creative

Your header image is the first thing a user will encounter when your ad displays for a matching search query.

The right header image has the power to make someone stop scrolling, read your ad and, click through to your site or landing page.

Your header image should:





2. Segment Showcase Shopping Campaign Structure

Although campaign priority settings with Showcase Shopping ads, you can create multiple ad groups at the category and sub-category levels to segment your coverage based on product groups and then bid accordingly.

1. Start with broad ad groups to identify which search terms are generating engagements by targeting entire categories, e.g. winter clothes.

2. Create additional ad groups that target sub-categories that you will receive engagements for, e.g. men’s sweater vests.

3. Increase your bids for these sub-category ad groups that show higher buy intent.

4. It’s optimal for each ad group to contain at least three ads — each with unique headers, descriptions, headlines and category URLs.

For more in-depth info on segmenting Google Shopping queries, check out How to Target Google Shopping Search Queries with ISO Campaigns.


Final Takeaway


Showcase shopping ads are an important ad format for building visibility at the top of the Google Shopping funnel.

Retailers that want to capitalize on consumers early in the buyer’s journey should definitely include Showcase shopping campaigns into their Q4 Google advertising strategy.


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