How Did Google’s Shopping Update Affect Visibility?

Lorna Rose Gill Posted by Lorna Rose Gill

Following the September 30 deadline for changes to retailers’ Google Shopping feeds, what effects do we now see of the implemented changes on retailers so far?

With these changes in place, how can Adthena’s function for analysing competition on Product Listing Ads (PLAs) help you to stay ahead?

Changes to Product Feeds

In order to accommodate Google’s mobile ad format update, the company required retailers to make some changes to their product feeds, according to Google.

These include:

The ability to specify mobile landing pages, thereby improving the shopping experience for mobile customers.

New specifications on which attributes are mandatory for inclusion in feeds.
Attribute formats.

Revised image quality guidelines for a higher quality shopping experience.
Improved categorisation of products – especially clothing.

Character limits on attributes (150 characters for titles and 5,000 for descriptions) designed to promote more effective display of product information.

Replacement of the “available for order” product status with “in stock” to help relay clearer information to shoppers.

Visibility Improvements

With raised product feed standards, shoppers should begin to put more faith in online shopping, especially when using their mobile devices. This is good news for all retailers, since Google’s standards will help showcase their products to a larger audience in a more attractive manner.

Although scarce data is available to illustrate the changes in PLA visibility after the new standards were enforced on September 30, we likely won’t see significant changes between retailers, since the ranking algorithm that helps determine product relevancy to consumer search queries remained untouched.

Google reports that traffic directed to merchants through mobile devices in 2013 tripled the total for 2012. The 2014 holiday season should bring another sizable increase, with mobile devices boosting their share of retail traffic from 35 percent up to an estimated 43 percent.

Price and shipping are two of the most important factors online shoppers take into account when making purchase decisions, and Google recommends updating this aspect of feeds regularly so that customers can access the most accurate information at all times.

In this vein, Google has enabled automatic item updates, which, as its name suggests, automatically updates price and availability on PLAs. Throughout the beta phase of this new feature, participating merchants reported a 50% decline in the number of products receiving disapproval due to price discrepancies between their Google Shopping listings and their web storefronts.


Some retailers, however, may have hit a snag in implementing the numerous feed changes and failed to optimise in accordance with Google’s time-sensitive requests. Even small mistakes can cause a product listing to drop out of circulation, according to Search Engine Watch, so ensuring that retail data is 100% complete and accurate has become absolutely essential.

Adthena PLA Competition Analysis

Adthena’s platform allows you to easily analyse changes relative to competitors when Google makes routine changes to its algorithms.

Adthena’s ability to track, analyse and compare competitors’ product listing strategies can provide vital insights on where to place more emphasis in your own campaigns.

Looking at the different PLAs a competitor is running, as well as their activity on search and display ads – including the times they bid on keywords, which keywords they bid on, and how much they are bidding – can place you in an excellent position to make informed decisions on your digital marketing strategies.

(Main image credit: Rodney Campbell/Flickr)

About the author

Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies. She is curious and passionate and likes to find stories in data and technology.