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Free Google Ads Ops For SMEs

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

Google Ads can be an expensive marketing channel for many retailers. We take a look at some potential free opportunities your business could start taking advantage of.

There was a great article published in the Search Engine Journal this week regarding updates to the Google Shopping free listings to include placements on the Google Search results tab.

This article got us thinking. What are the free opportunities SMEs should be taking advantage of on Google Ads? And also, great for shoppers and advertisers, but why is Google increasing the prominence of free shopping listings?

The Background

The Google Shopping tab has become the ‘go to’ place for users when they are looking to buy. Similar to Amazon, users can search for products, see prices and images - and soon will be able to purchase products ('Buy On Google') without ever leaving Google.

These placements have traditionally been paid for, however as Google looks to grow this placement as a competitor to Amazon, there will become a growing need to display both sponsored and organic listings.

You may remember back in 2017, the EU fined Google over £2bn for promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of search results. Following this, Google had already made huge strides in its shopping platform, but incorporating free listings will also improve the shopping experience for customers. Google recently said it’s become ‘crucial’ to connect customers with the best merchants for their need.

Initially we’d thought the free placements were to help SMEs out during the COVID pandemic, and that may turn out to be the case, but with more announcements, and Google’s focus on shopper experience, it feels like this could be here to stay.

How do I get involved…?

Back in April, Google announced that product listings would begin displaying for free in the shopping tab, and in June they’ve just announced that these placements will expand across further Google networks including the Google Knowledge Panel, and possibly Google My Business listings.

Unfortunately for UK SMEs, these ads are only currently available in the US, however just like a sitcom packed with canned laughter and ‘will-they, won’t-they moments’ - it can’t be long before they make it across the pond.

In order to be eligible to serve you will need to have a Google Merchant Center account setup with some/all of your products updated. The Google Merchant Center can easily be setup with Google Sheets, by linking product feeds or using plugins to your eCommerce platform (e.g. Shopify Google Shopping App).

You can check you are eligible to serve in free placements by going to 'Growth' in the Google Merchant Center, and confirming that 'Surfaces Across Google' is active. This won't show up until the placements are available in your market.

Search Engine Land have got a great video tutorial for setting up tracking for Google Shopping free listings in Google Analytics.

Other Free Google Ads Opportunities to Consider

Google Ads Free Credit

If you are new to Google Ads, Google offers £75 Free Credit when you setup an account and invest £25. Though not a huge amount, it’s definitely worth it if it drives some sales!

Also, for non-profits and charities, Google offers a monthly grant of up to $10k per month.

Google My Business Free Promoted Pins

With over 1 billion users looking for local services on Google Maps each month, it’s an important place for all businesses to display. Google offers promoted pin ad placement that shows more prominently versus the free listings - and Google recently announced that this listing will begin to serve for free in some cases in the coming weeks.

Similar to the Shopping, we imagine these promoted pins will auto serve for users with Google My Business profiles setup. So make sure you have it set up!

Microsoft Digital Marketing Center

Microsoft Digital Marketing Center is a free campaign management tool designed to help SME businesses manage paid and organic campaigns in one place. The tool will work across, Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Check out our recent blog with more info.

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