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Free advertising on Google Shopping: Google rolls out Free Product Ads Worldwide

Free Google Shopping ads become available to merchants worldwide starting mid-October 2021. It looks like Google has decided to come in and give merchants some Christmas presents, right before the busiest e-commerce season of the year.

Click here to read how you can add your products to Google Shopping.

This article will answer a few questions about Google Shopping's free shopping ads.

The "WHY" behind free Shopping ads

To understand the impact Google's decision may have on online store owners, buyers, and the e-commerce market - let's take a closer look at the potential reasons Google took a step toward free shopping ads.

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To help businesses during the pandemic

It's no secret that the pandemic has influenced the deployment of free shopping ads. Google's president of commerce (Bill Ready), admitted that Google decided to accelerate rollout in hopes of helping struggling businesses stay afloat during tough times.

Strengthening Google's position against Amazon

Google and Amazon have been battling for e-commerce dominance for years. Free product ads were "invented" as part of a long-term strategy to compete with Amazon. This gives online store owners a good reason to believe that free product ads are here to stay - even long after we've forgotten all about the coronavirus.

Lowering the entry threshold for new online store owners

The easier it is to get into Google advertising, the more merchants will jump on board. Google may not make much money on these new merchants from the start. However, it's plausible that online store owners will start using paid advertising options over time, looking for more exposure.

…because data is power

With data becoming the currency of our times, introducing free product listings is a brilliant move on Google's side. More online store owners showing their products on Google Shopping means more buyers will come to browse a broader choice of products. The two combined represent more valuable data for Google to grow and develop its eCommerce platform and other products.

Where to find free product ads?

Surfaces on Google

The newly announced free product ads are product ads that will appear for free in the Google Shopping tab. And for now - only there. The shopping carousel on the SERP, Youtube, and other shopping locations will remain reserved for paid ads.

However, free advertising will likely expand in the future. To use free shopping ads, you need to enable "Surfaces on Google," a catch-all for digital spaces such as Google Images, Shopping Tab, and Google Lens. This can indicate where free ads appear next.

Who can list their products for free & where?

Any merchant selling physical goods can take advantage of free product listings. The global rollout was just announced in mid-October. This will likely be gradual, so not all countries where Google Shopping is available will use product listings immediately.

How does the free product listings look like?

Free Google Shopping Ads are not much different from paid Shopping Ads. They both include the same advertising components as image, product title, price, and optional information such as product rating or free shipping label.

What differentiates free product ads from paid ads:

Location - free ads appear below the paid ads

Display - while for desktop, the difference is barely noticeable, it gets more interesting for mobile. Depending on the category, Google displays products differently. For example, it may give more space to the product image for clothing and more room for the description for technical items.

Comparison by store feature - buyers can now compare the product price by store directly on the given listing when browsing free listings. This will likely tip the scales in favor of the stores offering the best price. It also makes for a more shopper-friendly experience, encouraging more users to visit the Shopping Tab.

How to get started with free Shopping ads

You need to import your products into Merchant Center and activate the "Surfaces on Google" program to get started.


- Google Merchant Center account
- Product feed/Products imported into GMC
To create your product feed in ShopFactory you can read this article.

Not required:

Google Ads account

Existing Merchant Center and Shopping Ads users:

Most merchants are enrolled in the program by default. This means that they are (in most cases) eligible to run Free Shopping Ads once they are available in their selling country. If you are already running paid Shopping ads, it means that you have already imported your products into Merchant Center. If you haven't added your products, the next step will be to import them manually or add a product feed.

If you have not opted in, you can do so by accessing:

"Growth" > "Manage Programs" > "Surfaces on Google" map.

That's it! That's all you need to do to start advertising your products in the free ad space.


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