So, your shopping feed is optimised, you’ve followed our top tips for Smart Shopping, and clued up on our ecommerce tips to boost your sales. And now you’re wondering how to make your Google Shopping campaigns work even harder.

Perhaps you’re looking to drive new customer acquisition but want to stay efficient? Maybe you’re hoping to drive brand discovery, and inspire and engage new shoppers? Say hello to Google’s Showcase Shopping ads.

What Are Showcase Shopping Ads?

Launched by Google in 2016, Showcase Shopping ads are a powerful ad format to have in your eCommerce toolkit. They enable brands and retailers to introduce themselves at the beginning of a customer journey, when shoppers are just beginning to explore products using generic, broad and, typically, unbranded search terms.

Being present in the Showcase Shopping space allows you to insert your brand at the start of that journey, a crucial decision-making stage for shoppers.

Showcase Shopping ads will typically trigger on generic, lower-intent search terms. The ads themselves feature a logo, a headline and a lifestyle image showcasing your brand or products. When expanded, the ad opens into a scroll-able catalogue of your products with price, title and product rating (if available), related to their query, along with a line of description text.

This ad format gives searchers the opportunity to browse a curated set of your products related to their search query without even having to leave their browser, all while allowing you to showcase your brand.

Why Should You Use Showcase Shopping Ads?

Currently, 80% of Showcase ad traffic to retailer sites is new visitors, and 20-25% of all mobile searches for furniture, luggage and apparel trigger Showcase ads. If you’re in this space and want to make your shopping activity work even harder while driving new customer acquisition, Showcase Shopping is a great place to start.

Setting Up Showcase Shopping Ads

By now you’re probably sold on the idea of Showcase Shopping ads and want to know how to get the ball rolling, get building and ensure you’re sticking to best practice.


In terms of a structure, Google best practice is to focus on one core Showcase campaign, with high volume categories broken out into separate ad groups targeting those product categories.

Similar lower volume categories can be consolidated but try to avoid having one ad group serving the same ad for unrelated products. This structure should be complemented with a catch all ad group, targeting the whole feed with a more generic ad.

Within ad groups, create separate ads for higher volume subcategories, using specific URLs per ad (see example below).

Unlike Smart Shopping, the beauty of Showcase Campaigns is the ability to view search terms and set negatives. Regularly reviewing SQRs will allow you to mine for popular queries, brands and subcategories, and then build out ad groups and ads for these areas.

The Ads

Google recommends building out at least 50 ads, each targeting unique landing pages. Campaigns with over 50 ads drive 2x higher engagement rates thanks to improved match rates and ad relevancy. When it comes to ad creation, make sure your Showcase ads stand out and engage users visually.

Showcase Shopping ads are made up of a header image that’ll appear at the top of the ad, as well as an optional headline and description (we recommend leveraging this to communicate your value proposition and USPs).

The image will always appear at the top of the ad once expanded and, if the most relevant match for a search query, it’ll also appear in the ad before someone clicks it. Alternatively, if more relevant, one of your product images may be displayed here instead.

Ensure your lifestyle header image is visually engaging and represents your brand or the product category you’re advertising - don’t underestimate the importance of your imagery! Use high-quality, colourful images that showcase your products and brand.

Unlike other ads, where impressions and clicks are core, with Showcase ads you can track engagements too. Engagements are defined by Google as when a “consumer engages with an ad, for example, viewing or clicking a Showcase Shopping ad.” Tracking engagement performance can aid your understanding of how well an ad is performing and can feed back into ad optimisation.


Unlike other Smart Shopping solutions, with Showcase ads you can maintain much more control over your audience and exactly who you’re targeting. When setting up and optimising campaigns, you’ve got the opportunity to overlay and target audiences, allowing you to target existing and new users differently, or totally exclude existing customers if you want to focus on new customer acquisition only.

On top of this, also consider location targeting and ad scheduling if you’re looking to drive a more efficient and targeted spend.

Bidding Options

Your structure is built, you’ve set up visually engaging ads and nailed down your targeting. What next?

With Showcase Ads, you’ve got 3 bidding options, and as an agency we’ve had success cases primarily with the first two.

Maximum CPE (cost-per-engagement): The beauty in this is that after setting the max you’re willing to pay for an engagement, you’re only then charged when someone clicks through the ad to your site or spends 10 seconds within the ad, allowing you to only pay for engaged users.

Target ROAS: Set your target ROAS and watch Google work to boost your conversion value to hit it.

Maximise Clicks: This strategy sets your bid to get as many engagements on your ads as possible within your budget.

With Target ROAS and Maximum CPE bidding, you have control over your bidding strategy at ad set levels, allowing you to adjust targets across product categories where margins may differ.

Got deep pockets and want to go one step further? Keeping an eye on your impression share metrics, particularly absolute top impression share (ATIS), can give you an indication of how regularly you’re achieving the top spot. We know from Google that the top spot (first showcase ad) achieves, on average, a 3.6x higher CTR than other slots so boosting your bids in 10-20% increments and keeping an eye on your ATIS could help you gain this top spot in certain high-value categories for your business.


Showcase Ads are 20% more often the first click than the last click on a user’s path to purchase, highlighting their importance and influence at the beginning of a user journey. With this in mind, if you’re setting up Showcase Ads, don’t forget about attribution and consider moving away from a last click attribution model that will likely undervalue the impact of Showcase Ads.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to drive customer acquisition and inspire new shoppers, Google’s Showcase Shopping ads are the place to be. Ensure you carefully consider your campaign structure, targeting, bidding strategy, and make sure your ads showcase your brand and really stand out.

Last, but not least, don’t forget about attribution! With this all in place, you’re in a great place to get the ball rolling with Showcase Shopping ads. Of course, if you have any further questions or would like help with your own Showcase Shopping ads, just drop us a line >>>