Google Merchant Center Promotions is a free feature that lets any ecommerce brand use sales promotions on Google Shopping campaigns. Your promotion can include 15% off, free shipping or a $$/dollar discount. Lets walk through how to use this feature to drive sales.

Today I want to talk about applying sales promotion messaging to you shopping campaigns. One major caveat is that you can not pick which shopping campaigns the promotions apply to. For right now promotions apply to all the campaigns you have running for Google shopping.

The only exception is if you use the promotion_id attribute in a supplement feed, you can pick which products the promotion applies to. When you apply one of the promotions below, shoppers will see a “special offer” link instead of Google Reviews or another ad extension you could be running in your Google Ads account.

Google lets you run the following promotions: 

  • Discounts: Percent off, cash back, buy one get one free, or buy one get 2nd percent off
  • Free gifts: Free item or free gift card for a specified value
  • Shipping: Free or discounted shipping

Once Google reviews and approves your promotion. Your approved promotions display with your Shopping ads on Google.com. These don’t show up on YouTube and other places shopping ads can be seen right now.

Google rejects promotions that can’t be used by all audiences who are using Shopping ads, such as promotions offered to a specific group (e.g. first-time customers, military members, etc.).

Setup Merchant Center Promotions for Google Shopping

The Promotions tool is located in the Promotions dashboard of your Merchant Center account. It allows you to manually enter individual promotions. Use the Promotions tool if you have a small number of promotions to submit.

To add promotions manually, follow the steps below:

  1. Sign in to your Merchant Center account 
  2. Click Marketing in the navigation menu, then click Promotions.
  3. Click the blue plus button 

Promotion Type Section

  1. Select your country as not all options below will be available in all markets. I’ll be doing this setup based on USA Google Merchant Center account
  2. Select the promotion categories that best fit your promotion
    1.  Amount Off
    2. Percent Off
    3. Free Girl
    4. Free Shipping
  3. Each promotion category has a sub-promotion option, which then lets you fill out your promotional offer
  4. Click Continue

Promotion Setup Section

  1. Give your promotion a title that indicates the value and spend requirements. This name will be shown to customers.
  2. Enter a promotion ID to track your promotion. This ID will not be shown to customers.
  3. Pick which products this promotion applies to. See below about how to make a promotion feed or apply it to specific products in your feed
  4. Enter a promotion code if it applies to this promotion
  5. Enter your start and end dates. You should set this up at least 72 hours in advance during peak seasons like Black Friday and Christmas
  6. Click Create Promotion

Keep in mind you can have up to 500 open promotions at any given time. If you have reached the open promotions limit, Google will not approve additional promotions. So try not to go ham with your promotions. You don’t want to get known as a discount brand. Also, promotions are limited to 6 months (183 days).

Choose Products for Your Promotion

When it comes to applying your promotions. You have two handy options. You can use the promotion builder that comes up as you fill out your promotion in Merchant Center. You can also use a promotion feed, which is like a supplemental feed but just focused on promotions. The latter only makes sense if you are running weekly promotions.

Promotion Builder

You can either apply your promotion to all your products or specific products in your merchant center.  If you choose to apply your promotions to specific products in your products feed, use the specific products option in the promotion builder.

This option allows you to select specific collections of offers from your product feed to either exclude or include in your promotions. You can specify the items that should have a promotion applied through any of the following attributes:

  • item_id
  • product_type
  • brand
  • item_group_id

Create A Promotions Feed

If you plan to create a lot of promotions throughout the year. Then you might want to create a promotions feed, which will let you keep track of and upload all your promotions with a sheet. You will need to register and upload your feed into your Google Merchant Center after you make your promotion feed. Also look at feed specification and structured data attributes if you plan to build a promotion feed.

Merchant Promotions Best Practices

  • Don’t have vague or restrictive promotions like 
    • Cash back in percent and reward points are not allowed.  
    • Promotions restricted to a subset of shoppers (e.g. military discounts, birthdays, PayPal users, etc.)
    • Promotions exceeding a duration of 6 months   
    • Trade-in offers or mail-in or email rebates 
    • Products and services that are usually free 
    • Sweepstakes 
    • Text used to advertise a product without a discount
    • Follow all rules you would around text for Search ads

Google has a great Merchant Promotions FAQ page to help troubleshoot any issues you may run into:

Check For Disapprovals

Beyond checking for disapprovals by hand. You can also use this free Google Ads script. We are huge fan of using scripts with ecommerce clients.

That is it for this week. We’ll do another post on promotion feeds. You can see our post on Google Merchant Center Audits and making sure you have the right setup.