Google Shopping Ads vs. Text Search Ads: What’s the Difference

Some think of the conventional text-based ads that appear at the top of search results with reasons why users should click. Others are increasingly thinking of Google’s Shopping Ads, which feature product information and images.

Both ad types will show up at the top of the SERPs and above organic content, and both have their place in a PPC advertising strategy for eCommerce brands. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two and when you should be using each.

What Are Google’s Text Search Ads?

First up, we’ve got Google’s text ads, which are also most commonly known as “search ads.” These are the ads that you’re likely most familiar with, and it’s what most advertisers are referring to when they say they’ll be running ads on Google.

These ads are exclusively made up of copy. You get enough room for a headline and description ad text, though you can expand your ads with extensions that let you add links, phone numbers, store hours, and more to the ad itself.

google text ads

These are the ads where you can promote your product, products, or services by explaining what your USP is, why they should click, and what you can offer. The example above mentions “handcrafted,” “highest quality materials,” “50,000 5-star reviews,” and “best customer service” in addition to listing some of their popular product categories.

Text ads can help you say why your products or your brand is better than the competition, even if you don’t have any visuals to back it up.

What Are Google Shopping Ads?

You’ve likely seen Google’s Shopping Ads, too.

Shopping Ads will pop up for product-specific searches, showing an array of relevant product listings that include a product image, the product title, the price, the brand name, and perks like five star reviews or free shipping.

google shopping ads

These ads are product-focused, and they’re highly visual. Their layout is designed to give users the bulletpoints of needed information quickly. Brand. Star rating. Product name. Price.

When users look at the Google Shopping tab, they’ll also see Shopping Ads appear above the organic free listings.

google shopping ads in shopping tab

When users click, they’ll be taken to the product’s Shopping listing, where they’ll see more information and can choose if they want to purchase or browse other product listings that are relevant to their search.

If you have physical products to sell, you should absolutely be running Google Shopping Ads, or at the very least using the free organic listings.

Why You Should Run Both Google Shopping Ads & Search Text Ads

Google Shopping Ads and Google’s search text ads run within the same Google Ad platform, but they’re totally separate ad features.

This means that it’s not like enabling different placements on Facebook Ads, where you can run a single ad and have it show up in Stories, on Facebook in-feed, and in the audience network.

You need to create separate campaigns for each individual platform and divide up your ad spend accordingly.

That being said, we often strongly recommend that our clients do use both Google Shopping Ads and Google Search Ads simultaneously. Let’s take a look at why.

It Gives You a Better Shot of Increasing Your Keyword Impression Share

Some user searches are going to trigger a shopping ad at the top of the feed. Others will only show text ads.

If you’ve got campaigns in place for both Shopping Ads and text ads, you’ve got a better chance of showing up in more searches. This means that you’re capable of dominating more of the impression share, which is essentially the percentage of times you rank for your target keywords.

The more often you can rank, the better, and using both ad types can help your impression share significantly.

You Don’t Know Exactly What Will Capture Individual Users

Different ad formats are going to appear to different types of users.

Let’s think back to the examples we’ve looked at for the keyword “leather boots.”
search results for leather boots

These two ad types, in a way, are appealing to different search intents even though the buyer’s intent of researching leather boots is the same.

Some users are going to purchase on the look and the price of the boots alone. They’ll be drawn to the shopping ads on the side that show what a product looks like upfront.

Other users, however, might be trying to find a great brand first and focusing on quality before they pick a style. They want to know about the materials used, the craftsmanship, and the potential longevity. In that case, text ads might appeal more to them because they stress company USPs and values.

No matter what you’re selling, using both Shopping Ads and text ads can help ensure that you’ve covered your bases and that you’re reaching users wherever they are in their research and consideration process.

You Get More Keyword Opportunities

Your keyword strategy is going to naturally be a little different for search ads than Shopping Ads.

Shopping Ads are pulling relevant information directly from your product listing. If a customer is searching for “brown leather boots for men” or “heeled boots” and that in any way matches your product description, they could see your product in an ad. You can automatically rank for plenty of Shopping Ad placements without going insane trying to generate unique ad copy that appeals to every search.

Text ads, however, rely heavily on having the exact or close keywords in the ad copy. Maybe your ad copy can mention “men’s leather boots,” but if you have a large product inventory, there’s no way to mention every single product feature and still have a coherent ad.

And as a plus, seeing what queries bring you Shopping conversions can help you identify potential high-value keywords that deserve specialized text ad campaigns on their own.

Final Thoughts

While some brands benefit more from text ads or Shopping Ads, in most cases when it comes to eCommerce businesses, it’s much more beneficial to opt to run both types of campaigns. Let us help you get started with both using data-driven Google Ads services and strategies.

Need help setting up your Shopping Ads for success? No problem. You can get in touch with us, or learn more about how to set up your campaigns with our Google Shopping Ads Hub.