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Google Ads vs Google Shopping Ads: Understanding the Key Differences

Google Ads and Google Shopping ads can be confusing to a user who hasn’t run Google Ad products or never used either of the two. Through this blog we focus on the differences, and why you should use them depending on your unique circumstances. 

Table of contents

  • Introduction 

  • Understanding the Basics of Google Ads 

  • Understanding the Basics of Google Shopping Ads 

  • Key Differences between Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads 

  • When to Use Google Ads over Google Shopping Ads 

  • When to Use Google Shopping Ads over Google Ads 

  • Conclusion


Are you wondering which type of Google Ads would work best for your business? Well, you're not alone. There's been a long-standing debate between Google Search Ads and Google Shopping Ads, and it's not easy to decide which one to use. So, let's dive into understanding the key differences between these two types of Ads. This blog will equip you with all the necessary information about the basics of Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads, their differences, and when to use one over the other. Read on to make an informed decision for your business.

Understanding the basics of Google Ads

You're finally feeling ready to dive into the world of Google Ads but feeling overwhelmed with the steps to get started. Don't worry; we'll walk you through the basics of Google Search Ads. Google Search Ads are the ads you see on top of Google search results with "Ad" written on them. They're short, concise ads that are tailored to match specific search queries. Unlike display ads, customers see your ad when actively searching for your product or service. Google Search Ads operates using a pay-per-click (PPC) model where advertisers bid on relevant keywords that trigger the appearance of their ads in search results. You only pay when someone clicks your ad, making this marketing method cost-effective. There are different types of Google Search Ads: text ads, dynamic search ads (DSA), call-only ads, and shopping ads. Text ads are the most common type and consist of a headline, description, and display URL. DSA targets user queries by analyzing your website's content. Call-only ads direct users to call your business directly from the ad. Shopping ads allow users to browse your product inventory and purchase items directly from Google. Now that you're familiar with the basics of Google Search Ads, let's dive into the intricacies of Google Shopping Ads.

Understanding the Basics of Google Shopping Ads

Understanding the Basics of Google Shopping Ads Looking to promote your products online? Google Shopping Ads might be just what you need! These convenient ads allow e-commerce business owners to display their products on relevant Google search result pages, with an eye-catching image, product title, price, and store name. But how exactly do Shopping Ads work? Well, when you set up a Shopping campaign, you’ll need to link your Google Merchant Center account with your Google Ads account and upload your product feed. 

Once your feed has been approved, Google will automatically create Shopping Ads based on your product information and bid amount. While there are a few different types of Shopping Ads available, the most common format is the standard Shopping Ad, which includes an image, product title, price, and store name, as mentioned earlier. 

Additionally, there are also Showcase Shopping Ads, which allow advertisers to group related products and display them within a themed ad format. Overall, Google Shopping Ads provides a streamlined and efficient way for e-commerce business owners to showcase their products to online shoppers.

Key Differences between Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads

When it comes to online advertising, Google offers two popular options: Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads. While both can help drive traffic to your website, the two types of ads work differently and offer unique advantages. 

Ad Placement: The most obvious difference between Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads is where they appear on the search engine results page. Google Ads show up at the top and bottom of search result pages and are marked as ads. On the other hand, Google Shopping Ads appear as product listings at the top of the search engine results page, often before Google Ads. 

Ad Content: With Google Ads, you have more control over the content of your ads, often crafting headlines, and descriptions, and using various ad extensions to capture the attention of your audience. In contrast, Google Shopping Ads are more image-oriented, and the product image, name, price, and store name often take center stage. While you can still create compelling product titles and descriptions, the ad's image is crucial. 

Audience Targeting: Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads also differ regarding targeting. Google Ads offer advanced targeting options, allowing you to target people based on demographics, location, and other factors. Google Shopping Ads have limited audience targeting options and instead focus on intent-based targeting. 

Cost Structure: Google Ads has a cost-per-click (CPC) pricing model, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your ads. In contrast, Google Shopping Ads uses a cost-per-click (CPC) model. However, the CPC may be higher because Google Shopping Ads come with a percentage of the product's price, known as the ad commission. 

Product Information: When it comes to promoting products online, Google Shopping Ads excel in displaying a lot of information about a product. This information includes images, product descriptions, pricing, and even reviews. Google Ads have limited space, making it challenging to share this same information. 

Google Ads are more focused on the service industry, driving traffic to websites and capturing new customers. On the other hand, Google Shopping Ads prioritize e-commerce stores, and they excel in increasing conversions and product sales. Each ad type has its strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for unique business needs.

Knowing when to use Google ads vs. Google Shopping Ads for your campaigns

When deciding between Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads, there are a few factors to consider. First, think about the goals of your advertising campaign. If you're looking to drive website traffic or leads, Google Ads may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you're selling products and want to directly showcase them to potential buyers, Google Shopping Ads may be more effective for you. 

Another factor to consider is the level of competition in your industry. If your business is in a highly competitive space, you may find that Google Shopping Ads are more cost-effective since they allow you to showcase your products directly to interested buyers. 

Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads are powerful tools for promoting businesses online. While both platforms are part of Google's advertising system, the choice between them depends on your goals and business objectives. 

When you aim to promote your brand generally, attract loyal customers, and achieve a higher conversion rate, using Google Ads is the best option. On the other hand, if you want to emphasize specific products, boost sales, and attract customers who are ready to buy, Google Shopping Ads is the way to go. 

Additionally, Google Shopping Ads allows you to provide a visual representation of your products, meaning potential customers can see exactly what they are buying before clicking on your ad. Overall, when deciding between Google Ads and Google Shopping Ads, it's essential to consider your advertising goals and choose the platform that will support them most effectively.

Choosing the right strategy based on your unique objectives, and tech stack is crucial, and varies from business to business. If you’d like some guidance on how to choose the right ad platforms, and products, reach out to us.