Rob DePersia
May 25th, 2016

5 Ways to Increase Mobile Sales with Google Shopping Ads

The promise of smartphones for eCommerce has sometimes seemed tantalizingly close, but just out of reach.

Table Of Contents

Let’s look at the stats: mobile now accounts for half of all e-commerce traffic, and 65% of consumers use a smartphone to start their shopping journeys.

But there’s a catch – eCommerce marketers consistently find that all this smartphone traffic converts at roughly half the rate of desktop traffic.

Mobile eCommerce traffic continues to grow, but the traffic doesn’t convert – What gives?

So what’s an eCommerce marketer to do?

How can mobile be so important to eCommerce and yet still be such a difficult nut to crack?

There’s hope in sight: Google Shopping Product Listing Ads (PLAs) could hold the key to unlocking mobile eCommerce opportunities by reliably turning this wave of traffic into strategies to increase sales.

Here’s the case for why Google Shopping Product Listing Ads matter for mobile, and why you should care.

Why Do Google Shopping Product Listing Ads Matter?

Mobile traffic is growing across the board, but nowhere is this more true than when it comes to search traffic.

Data from over 150,000 businesses shows that compared to other traffic sources like Facebook and Twitter, Google has the highest percentage of mobile traffic.

mobile traffic

And for eCommerce retailers, adding paid ads to enhance their organic listings can help them stand out from the rest of the search results.

Retailers are realizing the power of paid listing ads: Google Shopping PLAs are growing in popularity and quickly becoming a meaningful source of revenue for all sorts of retailers.

Last quarter, revenue from Google Shopping grew by 52% year-over-year.
This followed a strong Holiday 2015 performance, during which Google Shopping revenues increased 66% year-over-year.

2015 Holiday Seasonal Ecommerce Report Infographic_r6-02

And most exciting for marketers frustrated by smartphones’ lagging conversion rates: traffic from mobile PLAs converts at a higher rate than other forms of mobile traffic on retailers’ sites.

Traffic from mobile product listing ads converts at a higher rate than other forms of mobile traffic.

Not all traffic is created equally, which is why marketers need to invest in the traffic that matters.

Not all traffic is created equally.
Not all traffic is created equally. Make sure you're getting the traffic that matters. Get my free download

Sidecar analysis of Q1 2016 revealed that mobile PLAs converted at a rate of 1.92% while site-wide mobile conversion rates reached 1.62%.

This is no surprise, as mobile PLAs sit atop the Google SERP (search engine results page) and shoppers love thumbing through the interactive, image-centric carousel.

google product listing ads guitar

These ads are practically tailor-made for smartphones. So how can marketers take advantage?

How eCommerce Marketers Can Take Advantage of Product Listing Ads

To start, let’s get the obvious out of the way. As Wayne Gretzsky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

This is true for PLAs, too. If you’re a retailer not active in Google Shopping, you should consider joining the party.

And for retailers casually dabbling in PLAs, now is the time to explore methods to fully capitalize on the channel.

Google Shopping relies heavily on data to structure campaigns, so it can get complex – we want to help make it easy for you.

Here are a few tried-and-true tactics for creating winning mobile Google Shopping campaigns:

1. Build a killer mobile UX

This might seem like a given, but the stakes are higher now than ever before. Today, a passable mobile experience isn’t enough. It needs to be perfect.

Around this time last year, Google rolled out a mobile-friendly update to its search algorithm. Dubbed “Mobilegeddon,” the update prioritized mobile-friendly sites in mobile search rankings.

The result? Tons of websites got their acts together and adopted a mobile strategy.

Before diving into the tactics of optimizing Google Shopping for smartphones, make sure your product pages provide a totally frictionless shopping experience for your customers.

Your site should have an entirely flawless UX across all devices.

mobile responsive ecommerce design


2. Mobile bid adjustments: Know what they are & how to use them

A mobile bid adjustment tells Google how much more (or less) you’re willing to pay for a click from a smartphone.

Set as a positive or negative percentage, the mobile bid adjustment will increase or decrease your mobile bids.

mobile bids google product listing ads

To determine your optimal mobile bid adjustment, divide the value-per-click you receive on mobile by your desktop and tablet value-per-click. Then subtract 1 and multiply by 100 to get your percentage.

Input that percentage into the “mobile bid adjustment” field for each ad group or campaign in AdWords, and voilà, your Google product listing ads cost adjusts for smartphone traffic accordingly.

3. Group products based on mobile performance

Products typically perform differently on desktop than on mobile.

Think about it: You’re probably more likely to buy something small, such as a pair of socks, on a smartphone than a larger item, such as a pair of skis.

Leverage this discrepancy by creating an ad group featuring a handful of products that perform especially well on mobile (consult your AdWords data to identify these items).

Then, apply a positive bid adjustment to raise these products’ mobile bids and increase their exposure to mobile shoppers.

[Tweet “Increase Google PLA ROI by betting bigger on products that perform well on mobile.”]

4. Create a separate campaign for mobile traffic

Mobile bid adjustments are a powerful tool, but because they are linked to desktop and tablet bids, they are somewhat limited.

To free products from their desktop bids, break up your traffic into separate campaigns. Make one for desktop and tablet, and another for mobile.

This kind of structure is simple to set up.

  • Create a new campaign called “mobile”
  • Apply a mobile bid adjustment of -100% to your desktop campaign.
  • Then, set your desktop campaign’s priority setting to “high,” and your new mobile campaign’s priority to “medium” or “low.”

This instructs Google to send all smartphone traffic to your mobile campaign.

With separate campaigns, you can now give every item a mobile bid that perfectly matches its performance on smartphones.

[Tweet “Create separate mobile & desktop campaigns for Google PLAs to boost ROI.”]

5. Never stop perfecting your approach

Success on Google Shopping requires constant vigilance.

It’s not enough to simply upload a product feed, set your bids, and let Google handle the rest.

Instead, marketers must stay on top of their campaigns and consistently adjust bids according to product performance.

Since Google Shopping is still a growing source of revenue for Google, it is always adding new features and enhancements to make life easier for advertisers.

So keep an eye out for updates and ask to join beta programs, such as the one for the mobile “buy” button, whenever possible.


Smartphones have changed the type of traffic flowing to eCommerce sites. But many eCommerce retailers are still waiting for conversions to follow.

As Google Shopping keeps growing, eCommerce marketers can use the channel’s strong mobile performance to finally bridge the gap.

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