When Google Adwords launched their new Google Shopping specific campaigns a while back, impression share and benchmark data were added to product group reporting.  Yesterday Google took it one step further and is now providing details on “who” those competitors are, and what type of impression share they have within Google Shopping search for similar products and queries.  This data has always been available for traditional Adwords text ads, but not for Google Shopping Product Listing Ads. Though with Adwords text ads, only a portion of the impressions are calculated, though this is not stated in the Shopping campaigns auction insights report.

Google Shopping Auction Insights ToolHow To View Google Shopping Competitor Impression Share In Adwords

From a campaign top level view, select the ‘details’ drop down, then ‘auction insights’.  On the next screen, select the ‘Google Shopping’ option, and there you go.  The report is of course also downloadable.

These metrics are a bit fuzzy because of the way Google Shopping PLAs are surfaced in search results.   There are queries and result sets where merchants are competing with the exact same product, or broad keyword searches that produce a myriad of results that span multiple product verticals. These instances are of course all rolled into one, which leaves much to be desired.

If you’re not already familiar with these values, here’s a breakdown what each of these stats represent, according to Google.

Impression Share – How often a participant received an impression, as a proportion of the auctions in which you were also competing.  Impression share is the number of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. Eligibility is based on your current ads’ targeting settings, approval statuses, bids, and Quality Scores. 

Overlap Rate – How often another participant’s ad received an impression when your ad also received an impression.

Outranking Share - How often your ad ranked higher in the auction than another participant’s ad, or your ad showed when theirs did not.

It’s quite genius and hilarious to launch a feature like this the week before the big holiday shopping frenzy starts.  Everyone who thought they had their max CPCs and daily spends figured out for the big rush now have an incredibly important data point that wasn’t available just a few days ago. Any ideas on the potential revenue increase for Google because of this timing? Well played Google, well played.


A few days ago Google made a big announcement regarding the initial launch of Google Adsense for Shopping, or is it really Google Shopping for Adsense? At any rate, this evolution is something I (and of course others) knew had to be somewhere on Google’s road map, it was just a matter of time.  When I did a few searches to satisfy my curiosity, at first all I could find was more or less the same article with the same announcement and limited details, regurgitated over and over. I knew there had to be more to this, so I set my search to show only results prior to August 2014, and magically this page appeared.

May 19th, 2014 Google Adsense PLA Shopping Documentation

May 19th, 2014 Google Adsense PLA Shopping Documentation

Wait, what the May 19th?  Did I miss the party?  Could I have been tinkering with Adsense PLAs (or AFSh as they appear to be labeled) on my own for the past four months?  I mostly play in the affiliate monetization space and have comparatively limited experience with Adsense, though how could I have missed this?  After speaking with a PLA specialist at Google this morning, who had also never seen the above page, maybe they were originally hidden and used by the beta testers of this project to spec out their ad units?

Google Adsense For Shopping Example

Google Adsense For Shopping Example

So what do these ad units look like?  Aside from Wal Mart, shoppers will soon be able to find these ads on Target, Amazon, Next Tag, Kijiji, Ask, Smarter & AOL.  If you’d like to see these ad units in the wild, just go to WalMart.com and search for a basic product like a grill or skateboard, then look in the lower left column, likely below the fold. The Vita Mix example on the left was taken from their site today.

Include Search Partners For Adsense PLAs

Include Search Partners For Adsense PLAs

If you’re a retailer engaged with PLAs and would like to ensure your products are eligible to be served on these (and future) sites, just make sure the “include search partners” box is checked in your campaign settings. When this selection was still included in the “new” PLA specific campaigns launched earlier this year, I knew it was there for a reason, though it had no purpose at the time.  My guess is that Google is only using a small subset of PLA advertisers to populate these ad spots, at least for now.  A flawless merchant center product feed, being a Google trusted store and customer review integrations are likely the prerequisites here. Other than that, I’m not sure what else can be done to ‘tease’ your PLAs onto these sites.  If you’ve got a large ecommerce related website that already uses Adsense ads and you’d like to be considered for participation, you can fill out the basic request form to get started.  If you’d like to see if your store’s PLAs have been served on any of these sites, you should be able to find this referring source data in Google Analytics, however I haven’t been able to find it my client’s reports as of yet.

Watching Google evolve their shopping product over the past couple of years has been quite interesting to say the least.  Back between 2007 and 2009 I was working on project where we had built out over a dozen niche shopping comparison websites that utilized custom granular filters not available on any other comparison shopping website at the time.  Alas, due to circumstances far outside of my control, these sites no longer exist.  It was only earlier this year when I saw some of these similar product filters show up on Google Shopping, like filtering snowboards by length.  While retailers could do that, comparison shopping sites using data from thousands of sources couldn’t find a means or time to standardize any of it. Adding structure & usability to unstructured & unstandardized data is what a majority of new start ups on the web are doing every day, huge opportunities everywhere.

Adsense For Shopping Code Generator Screen Shot

Adsense For Shopping Code Generator Page

Another interesting facet is how these Adsense units appear to work, very similar to affiliate tools like the eBay Partner Network’s custom banner, or the Amazon Associates widgets. Enter your publisher ID, enter your desired keyword query, set the ad unit size and some other parameters, and off you go.  It appears they’re not “contextual” in the sense that Google decides which products to show based on the page content, as the keyword query needs has to be defined in each individual ad unit. By using a string replace for the keyword query based on the query the user entered on the website, these sites can dynamically display highly relevant product level ads.  Here’s the main information page, the code generator page, an implementation guide and a reference document for all the parameters.  I tried to set up an implementation with my adsense ID but couldn’t get the ad to display.

If you’ve been here before, you might recall I’ve predicted similar evolutions of their product offering in rants here and here.  So when will Google open up these product listing ads to the rest of the Adsense community?  Will they eventually add this feature to the Google Publisher Plugin for WordPress?  Of course. I really hope there’s some independent 3rd party affiliate tools like Prosperent’s WordPress plugin that can keep up with Google Shopping, otherwise Google is poised to further dominate the landscape until there’s no competition left.

It’s worthy to note that the affiliate network Avant Link announced yesterday that as a merchant partner you can supply them with your Google Merchant Center feed and they’ll reformat it to their standard for their affiliate publishers to use.  At one point, affiliate network data feeds were king for product level promotion, now the tables have turned and the networks are realizing it’s easier to get a merchant to supply them with the Google Merchant Center feed instead. Oh these times they are a changin….



WordPress 4.0 Comments Not Working With Thesis 1.8.5

September 8, 2014

“I felt a great disturbance in Thesis 1.8.5, as if millions of comments suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”  I didn’t realize this catastrophe until I was approving new comments on one of my sites today, and well, they were gone.  If you’re still using Thesis 1.8.5 for a Wodpress site(like this one) and […]

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The Panda Diversity Complex

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My wheels have been turning on this one for minute now, wondering when inspiration would tip the scale and spill my thoughts onto this digital canvas, so here we go… Back in May the SEO community went berserk over a monumental shift in a particular businesses’ natural search engine rankings, along with dozens of other large websites. There was, and still […]

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Windell’s & High Cascade Merging Into One Camp “We Are Camp, LLC”

April 2, 2014

I wonder if Kevin English and Tim Windell purposely planned to confuse everyone yesterday(April 1st) with their announcement of “We Are Camp, LLC”, seems like a great way to have fun with it anyhow. When the logo popped up on my Facebook feed, I wasn’t sure what it meant, and since it was April fools […]

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Santa Cruz Skateboards x Star Wars Colab

March 3, 2014

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Why You Should Go To LAUNCH SF, Feb 2014

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I’m fortunate to live behind the Redwood curtain in one of the most amazing yet untraveled regions on the planet. However due to a relatively low population and poor bandwidth, there isn’t much in the means of “tech” businesses here. I’m not blessed with water cooler talks at the office with colleagues, and at most […]

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OutsideOnline.com – A Study Of Controversial Link Baiting

February 6, 2014

To preface this, I think skiing is rad. I prefer snowboarding, but I definitely don’t have anything against skiing, or skiers in general. With that off my chest, over the past week there’s been a questionable article making daily appearances in my news feed titled “Can Snowboarding Be Saved ?”. For reasons I’ll explain here […]

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Six Things I Learned From Google PLAs In 2013

January 23, 2014

While I’ve been using Google Adwords regularly over the past few years, it wasn’t until last year I got involved working on Product Listing Ads (PLAs) for Google Shopping placements. If you’re at all involved in B2C e-tail, you’ve likely heard some noise about this channel over the past few months, some bad, most of […]

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Snowboarders Suing Alta – How It Will Backfire On The Backcountry

January 17, 2014

One of my most positive life changing events was back in 1997 when I embarked on a quest for snowboarding in Utah, and some college too. Every year between October and June I spent as much time as possible in the Wasatch, each season dedicating a larger percentage of those days to exploring the backcountry. For […]

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