Google Shopping vs Text Ads: A comparison 

It can be difficult to know the difference between Google Shopping Ads and regular Google Ads. We've put this guide together to help you understand more.

If you want to promote your business online, you might have considered Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords). Google Ads encompasses a number of different ad types that you can run through the Google network including Google Search Ads, Google Display Ads and Google Shopping Ads. 

It can be difficult to know what the differences between the ads are so, in this guide, we’ll look at Google Search Ads and Google Shopping Ads. 

The types of ads you decide to run will be determined by your business and the products and services you provide. Both campaigns can be run at the same time so, depending on your business, you can use them to gain maximum coverage. 

Let’s have a look at Google Search Ads and Google Shopping Ads to find out more about the differences between them. 

What are Google Search and Google Shopping Ads? 

Both ad types are run through the Google Ads platform and are designed to help businesses drive traffic to their website which can be turned into sales or leads. 

These ads use a pay per click (PPC) model which means you only pay when someone clicks on one of your ads. The amount you pay is determined by your budget and how much you are prepared to pay per click to beat your competition. 

What are Google Search Ads? 

When someone searches on Google, the top four results and the bottom two results of the search page are usually paid for. The text only results with the word ‘ad’ next to them are Paid Search ads. 

This is a text based ad and will show depending on the keywords you bid on in your ad campaigns. Keywords are the search terms that someone searching on Google is likely to type in. 

You can decide on the keywords you want to use and you can target searchers who are closer to the decision stage of the buyer’s journey as they will be looking for something more specific. 

The benefits of Search ads include: 

  • Prominent on results pages 
  • Great visibility 
  • Allow you to add more text and content 
  • If you use ad extensions and lines available, you ad might be bigger than your competitor’s 
  • Increases the chances of searchers clicking through 

Cons of using Search ads include:

  • Not suitable for products with long and complex names 
  • More complex to implement than Google Shopping 
  • CPC can be more expensive than Shopping 

Who should use Google Search Ads?

These can be set up by anyone. They are text-based so they can be useful for businesses in almost any industry. 

If you’re advertising anything other than physical products that you can buy online, you won’t be able to advertise on Google Shopping (with exceptions such as software subscriptions and mobile contracts). 

How to get the best results 

Successful Google Search campaigns should be tested and measured continuously to make sure you get the best results. You should review ad copy, call to actions (CTA) and find new keywords to target to optimise the conversion rate for your ads. 

The ad copy and offers you run to stand out from your competitors will be decided by your business. For example, if you run an ecommerce store, you may want to include phrases such as free shipping. Google Search Ads also allow you to set geographical limits to drive footfall to a brick and mortar store. 

What are Google Shopping Ads? 

When someone searches for a product on Google and there are advertisers using Google Shopping, these searchers will see the Shopping results related to their search. 

Google Shopping Ads appear at the top of the SERPs and have a dedicated tab for searchers to browse more product. 

These are image based ads so a picture of your product will be shown along with information such as the product name, price, special offers and reviews. Rather than bidding on keywords, you bid on the products to show up in relevant searches. Clicking on the ad will take a visitor directly to your chosen product page. 

The key aim of Google Shopping ads is to show searchers the three key pieces of information that potential customers think about before making a purchase: 

  • What the product is 
  • What the product looks like 
  • The price 

Google shows up to 30 Shopping Ads on desktop and up to 15 on mobile. Your products can appear as Shopping Ads more than once but, with Google Search Ads, only one search ad per advertiser can show up at a time. You can show multiple results in Google Shopping, but only one in search. 

Unlike Google Search campaigns, you will need to keep updated data or a shopping feed in your Merchant Centre. This includes information such as whether or not a product is in stock. You can submit an optimised product feed with detailed and accurate titles, descriptions and negative keywords so you can still influence the people who are finding your ads.

As they are image based and show prices, Google Shopping campaigns tend to be more effective. 

The benefits of Google Shopping include: 

  • Easier to implement for a high number of products 
  • You don’t need keywords so your products have a better chance of showing 
  • More engaging than search ads 
  • CPC can be cheaper when compared to Search Ads 

The cons of Google Shopping include: 

  • Online suitable for online retail businesses 
  • Strict image content policies 
  • Ads show limited content 
  • All ads are the same size so it’s hard to stand out from competitors 

Who should use Google Shopping ads? 

Google Shopping Ads are best suited to online stores. Ecommerce sites benefit from these eye-catching image based adverts. 

How to succeed

Google Shopping Ads require less tweaking in comparison to Search Ads because you let the images sell the ad for you. The bulk of the work is in keeping your Merchant Centre account up to date. 

These ads rely on the product feed in the Merchant Centre so you’ll need to make sure the information is correct and up to date and as descriptive as possible. You will also need to switch automatic item updates to make sure the feed always contains the most accurate information. 

Can you run Google Search and Google Shopping Ads together? 

Running Google Shopping and Search Ads alongside each other can help to maximise your visibility in the search results page. Google ran a study which revealed that shoppers who viewed both Shopping and Search Ads from a retailer are 90% more likely to choose that brand. 

The benefits of running both types of ad include:

  • More exposure and visibility 
  • Give competitors less space on SERPs 
  • Reinforces branding message and image 
  • Strengthens your promotions method 

What are the main differences between Google Search Ads and Google Shopping Ads? 

Both types of ad offer benefits but there are differences to consider to help decide which is likely to be best for your business. 


One of the biggest differences between running Google Search and Google Shopping Ads is the way the keywords work. Search ads need you to add in the keywords you want your ads to show for. On the other hand, Google Shopping Ads are sourced automatically by Google and keywords are pulled from product titles and descriptions. 

Negative keywords 

These are the keywords you don’t want your ads to show for. You can add these keywords to both Google Search and Google Shopping campaigns. It will prevent your ads from being triggered for certain words or phrases. A common example is ‘cheap’, if you sell high end products, you’re not going to want to attract customers who are looking for cheaper alternatives. 

For Google Shopping, these are the only keywords you can add to your campaigns so they’re useful for preventing spend on keywords that are not going to drive conversions for your business.  


Google Shopping does not allow you to bid on specific keywords so the bidding process is slightly different between the two types of ad. Google Ads provides two different bidding options: manual CPC and Automated bidding. 

Google Search 

With Google Search campaigns you can bid on the specific keywords you want to bid on. When bidding, you choose the keywords that work best for you and choose the maximum amount you’re prepared to pay. 

Google Shopping 

With Google Shopping, you’re bidding on the product itself instead of the keyword. You select the products you want to push and then bid on all of the products in that ad group or you can set a maximum bid for each product. 

Some businesses choose to have an ad group for each product so they have full control over the product bidding and keywords that show. 

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Blog written by

Dylan Bonsall
Digital Marketing Executive