Retailers can use CSSs (comparison shopping services) to drive product sales through Google Shopping. If you’re looking for ways to bolster your PPC or affiliate marketing strategy, or simply want an easy way to generate return on investment, read on to learn more.
What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is a comparison shopping engine (CSE) that allows users to compare products from various online retailers. Users can perform a search, apply filters to narrow down results, and click through to retailers’ sites to learn more or make a purchase.
Shopping listings can also appear in other places on Google, as well as on third-party sites.
How do I get my products on Google Shopping?
It is possible to secure free product listings that appear on Google surfaces like Shopping, Images, and Maps.
However, Google Shopping is predominantly an advertising platform, with merchants paying on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-engagement (CPE) basis, where exact costings depend on the result of an automated auction. Listings can appear on Google surfaces as well as third-party sites.
To start advertising with Google Shopping, you can:
- work directly with Google by creating a product feed in Merchant Centre and then setting up your campaign in Google Ads
- allow one or more comparison shopping service (CSS) partners access to your product feed and set up Shopping ads on your behalf.
What is a comparison shopping service (CSS)?
A comparison shopping service (CSS) collects product information from retailers and uses this to offer a comparison shopping engine (CSE) and/or to advertise products on other channels.
Many CSSs can use your product data to place Google Shopping ads on your behalf. You can find a CSS partner for this purpose through Google’s programme.
There are a few different costing models out there. The CSS may charge a:
- cost per click (CPC — the traditional PPC marketing model);
- fixed fee, which will be agreed before any campaigns are set up; or
- cost per sale/action (CPA — the traditional affiliate marketing model).
What are the benefits of working with CSS partners?
Our affiliate marketing team have vast experience integrating CSS partners into client campaigns. These are four of the main benefits we’ve discovered:
Partnering with CSS platforms can fill gaps in your PPC strategy
Because partnering with CSS platforms is a way to secure Google Shopping ads, you might be wary of how this could affect any ongoing PPC activity you have. But the good news is that it won’t have a negative impact at all: it will only serve to improve the performance of your campaigns.
This is because CSS partners can help to fill in any gaps that you’re currently missing, and you’ll still only ever pay as much as you need to in order to beat your closest-competing merchant, so your costs won’t shoot up.
Plus, if you ever enter an auction alongside a CSS platform that is advertising on your behalf, their bid won’t be considered when calculating your cost per click, so this isn’t something you ever have to worry about.
CSS platforms can work on a CPA basis
One of the best things about affiliate marketing is that it’s relatively low-risk and cost-effective, because you’ll typically only have to pay anything if you actually make a sale. You can choose to do the same when you partner up with a CSS platform.
Our affiliate marketing team only work with CSS partners on a CPA basis, because this greatly reduces the risk for our clients and allows us to maximise return on investment. It also means we can trial different strategies without having to pay anything upfront.
Your CSS partners will want to get results so they get paid
Once you’ve partnered with a CSS platform you like the look of and set up your feed, most of your work will be done — it’ll now be up to them to ensure your products appear on Google Shopping. And, if you’ve chosen a platform that works on a CPA basis, they’ll only receive commission if someone makes a purchase, depending on your arrangement. This means they’ll want to do the best possible job for you and get great results, as it’s the only way they’re going to get paid.
This takes a lot of the pressure off you and makes it far more likely that you’ll get the results you’re looking for. By working within a CPA model, you’ll give your chosen CSS platform an incentive to work hard for you, which is why it’s always a good idea to go down this route.
You don’t need to have a separate Google Ads campaign running
To work with a CSS partner, you don’t need to run a separate Google Ads campaign or even have experience of doing so. They will manage the whole campaign for you and — if you choose to work with the right platforms — you’ll only pay anything once the sales start rolling in.
Why work with an agency on your CSS partner strategy?
At Glass Digital, our PPC and affiliate marketing experts collaborate to give clients the best possible results. We can help you identify the best CSS platform(s) for you, manage your relationships, optimise your product feed, deliver detailed performance reports, and much more, ensuring your Google Shopping ads deliver the best possible return on investment.
Get in touch today for a free consultation.