Reading time: 8 – 10 minutes
This article explains the basics of Google Shopping CSS, making it the ultimate guide for beginners in the world of Google Shopping.
What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is a Google platform that allows shoppers to browse through products from advertisers (merchants) who chose to feature their products on Google’s Shopping platform. As a merchant, you can promote your product offerings, drive traffic to your website or local store, and increase the quality of your leads by participating in Google Shopping. Google Shopping ads show your product offerings in a more visual format, containing a photo, title, price, store name, shipping information, and more.
What is a Comparison Shopping Service (CSS)?
A Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) is a website that gathers product offers from online merchants. Shoppers can compare product attributes like price, size, color, and other characteristics. When they choose the product they want to buy, the CSS sends shoppers to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase. CSSs can place Shopping ads on Google in the 21 countries where Google’s CSS program is available on behalf of merchants they represent. Working together with at least one CSS is needed in order to participate in Google Shopping Ads.
What is a Google Shopping CSS and what is a Google CSS partner?
Google Shopping CSS is Google’s own CSS. Like any other CSS, Google Shopping CSS can place Shopping ads and free listings on Google on behalf of merchants.
Google CSS partners are Comparison Shopping Services that can place Shopping ads and free product listings on Google on behalf of merchants, just like Google Shopping CSS. Companies in the CSS partner Program who have qualified for Partner status are granted the CSS partner badge or the Premium CSS partner badge. Here you can find an overview of all CSS partners.
What is the relationship between Google Shopping and CSS?
If you want to advertise products on Google Shopping, you need to work with at least one CSS partner. A CSS can bid to place Shopping ads on Google on behalf of the merchant. This bidding takes place in the Google ad auction, which determines which ads should show, and takes place every time someone uses Google search or visits a site that contains ads.
Why do CSS partners exist?
In 2017, the European Commission recognized that Google abused its market dominance as a search engine to give an unfair advantage to its own CSS. In response, Google introduced the CSS partner Program to comply with European legislation on market forces and encourage competition. After Google redesigned its Shopping platform and opened it up to external CSSs, the CSSs that qualified for the Google partner status were granted the CSS partner badge or the Premium CSS partner badge.
The CSS partner and the Premium CSS partner
A Premium Google CSS partner has to meet stricter requirements than the regular CSS partner, like additional technical certifications, and having at least 500 active merchants working with them. Shoparize is proud to be a Premium Google CSS partner. As a Premium Google CSS partner, we benefit from this status by receiving more support from Google through a dedicated support channel, consultation, workshops, training, and more. As a result, Premium Google CSS partners can support their merchants in a better way.
What changed after the introduction of the CSS partner program?
For shoppers, only minor changes were visible. Since the introduction of the CSS partner program, CSSs are featured in the bottom of the Shopping ads, showing they are the source reference and the CSS partner the merchant is currently partnering with.
When shoppers click the Shopping ad, they are redirected to the merchant’s website where they can purchase the product. When shoppers click the featured CSS at the bottom of the Shopping ad, they are redirected to the CSS website where they can compare the product to products from other merchants.
Who can benefit from Google Shopping?
Merchants of any size and type, looking to place products on Google Shopping in countries part of the European Economic Area (EEA), the United Kingdom, and Switzerland can benefit from Google Shopping.
How do I start with Google Shopping?
In order to place Shopping ads, you need to have two Google accounts: a Google Merchant Center account and a Google Ads account, which need to be linked together.
The content you want to use to create the Shopping campaigns and ads needs to comply with the Google Shopping ads policies. Furthermore, you need to provide up-to-date product data, which also needs to meet Google’s standard for data quality. This product data needs to be uploaded in a primary feed. To learn more about the primary feed, read this article on our Blog page.
If you are just starting out, this may sound like a lot. But don’t worry! If you decide to work with Shoparize CSS, we create the Google Merchant Center and Google Ads account for you and walk you through all the steps to get started.
What are the different ways of working with a CSS partner?
There are two main ways of working with a Google CSS partner: self-service and managed service.
With managed service, the merchant receives a Merchant Center and Google Ads account created by the CSS partner. The merchant shares product data with the CSS, and the CSS in turn optimizes the merchant’s feed and manages their campaigns.
With self-service, the merchant gets access to both the Google Ads and Merchant Center accounts and manages feeds and campaigns themselves.
Shoparize CSS works with a managed service model. To learn more about the managed service model and its benefits, read our article on this topic.
How do I choose the right CSS partner?
We believe in generating incremental sales from working with multiple CSS partners simultaneously. Working with multiple CSSs can be beneficial if you work with the CSS as a managed service model. Working in a managed service model can result in incremental sales by running the CSS’s channel in parallel with other Shopping campaigns. The CSS optimizes the merchant’s product data, resulting in bids on distinct terms and impressions that do not occur in other campaigns. This can lead to more traffic and conversions based on the different bidding strategies.
Do not worry; multiple CSSs can advertise on your behalf, and this will never inflate your CPC’s.
Besides more traffic and conversions, there are numerous benefits to working with a CSS in a managed service model, like time savings, a commission-based revenue model, and complete control over your ROI. Read our article on this topic to learn more.
To make searching for suitable CSS partners easier, you can benefit from an affiliate network. An affiliate network acts as a liaison between affiliates (CSSs) and merchants. Through an affiliate network, merchants can find a CSS partner that is relevant to their business.
An affiliate network can help you choose the best CSS partner(s) from their network that suits your target group.
We can imagine you still have some questions. We created a FAQ on our website to answer most of your questions. If you want to learn more about the different aspects of Shopping ads, visit our Blog page. Here you can find articles on various Google Shopping-related topics.
The Shoparize team is also happy to help you with any questions. Feel free to reach out to us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.