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Will Google Shopping work for a B2B Market?

This month sees the transition of Google’s shopping portal in the UK from offering free listings to charging online retailers to display their products. The change will come as a blow to online retailers who have been using Google Shopping for free to generate business, but the change also represents an opportunity.

The system may no longer be free to use, but the move to a paid system is set to give businesses much greater control on which of their products are displayed, where they appear in the search listings and how they’re displayed.

Currently Google Shopping UK search results are showing a mix of both paid and free listings with the free listings to be slowly phased out. The paid system has been fully implemented in the USA, and the transition for the UK Google Shopping listings is expected to be completed around June 2013.

There aren’t many reports on Google Shopping’s effectiveness for the B2B market, however in the USA Google are testing an additional shopping service specifically for the B2B market.

“Google Shopping for Suppliers” is aimed at helping “users searching for B2B products to quickly find what they’re looking for, evaluate options and connect with suppliers to make their purchases.” For the time being it’s only being used for electrical and electronic product suppliers and its policies differ slightly to Google’s standard shopping system to allow for greater flexibility.

It’s uncertain whether this B2B shopping system will be rolled out to other industries and applied to UK shopping results, but in the meantime if you’re looking to start using the new UK Google Shopping system here are some tips to help you get started.


1)      Create a product feed
Having a product feed is the main starting point of your Google Shopping campaigns. The product feed is a data file that contains all the information about your online product offering.


2)      Sign up for a Google Adwords account and Google Merchant Centre account
Businesses running pay-per-click advertising will already have a Google Adwords account. This will be used to create and manage your campaigns, whilst Google Merchant Centre is where the product feed is submitted.


3)      Create your Product Listing Ads
You will need to create Product Listing Ads (PLA) for the products you want to promote through Google Shopping. You can create one ad group and use this to create a single PLA for all your products, although it would be more strategic to categorise your products and create an individual ad group for each. One point to consider when creating PLAs for the B2B market is how you can differentiate your ads from the consumer PLAs, perhaps by adding text such as “wholesale”, “B2B”, “suppliers” or “bulk”.


4)      Set up your campaigns
With your PLAs created, the next stage is to set up ad campaigns for each product. The system for Google Shopping PLAs works in a very similar way to Google’s text PPC advertising campaigns. You can set one maximum cost per click for each ad group so if your product range has a lot of variance between the high value and low value products it makes sense to create different ad groups. It may also be worth creating individual ad groups for your most popular products.


5)      Analyse and Optimise
Once you have your Google Shopping PLAs up and running, it’s important to analyse which PLAs are working for you and use this data to optimise your campaigns and budgets.


Guy Levine, Return on Digital