Some PPC advertisers often overlook Merchant Center programs when they are setting up their Google Merchant Center account and their shopping feed. These programs can be the key to success on Google Shopping if used wisely. 

What are Merchant Center Programs?

Google Merchant Center has several programs to help your shopping performance. These are tools that can improve your shopping listings by giving you the option to show your product reviews, let customers know about ongoing sales on your website, show your products for free on the shopping tab, and much more.

Where to find Merchant Center Programs?

If you go to the left tab in your Google Merchant Center account, under Growth, you will find a ‘Manage Programs’ option:

This is where all the GMC programs are located. If you are interested in any of the programs on this tab, you will have to first ensure that you are eligible to opt into them. The next step will be to activate the program and follow the setup instructions.

We will list out the available programs and give a brief summary of each one:

Free Product Listings

By opting into the Free Listings program, you can show your products for free on the Google Shopping tab. This program only requires you to set up your Merchant Center account and have a product feed. This lets you list your products on Google Shopping and get clicks to your website that cost nothing. It can help you drive traffic to your website if you do not want to invest in advertising for whatever reason.

To set up free listings, you need:

  1. A Google Merchant Center account that has been verified and claimed.
  2. Shipping and return policy setup.
  3. A product feed that has all the required attributes.   

To read more about Free Listings, you can check out our guide here.

Shopping ads

This is the program that most people use Google Merchant Center for. Setting up Shopping ads lets you show your product listings on the ‘sponsored’ Google Shopping tab where other ads are shown:

To run these ads, you need to create Standard Shopping or Performance Max campaigns in your Google Ads account.

Here are the requirements for Shopping ads:

  1. A Google Merchant Center account that has been verified and claimed.
  2. Shipping and return policy setup and business information filled out.
  3. A product feed that has all the required attributes
  4. A Google Ads account linked with Google Merchant Center.
  5. A standard shopping or Performance Max campaign in your Google Ads account.   

Buy on Google

With Buy on Google, you can show your products on the Shopping tab where instead of visiting your website, customers can opt to complete their purchase directly on Google.

here is a view of the new Shopping Actions experience

When a customer sees your product listing on Google, they will get the option to directly add the product to their cart. They can then checkout the product right then and there on Google.

To set up the Buy on Google program, these are the requirements:

  1. Set up your business information in GMC including your address as well as shipping and return information.
  2. Set up a product feed in Merchant Center.
  3. Link your payment service provider.
  4. Review and accept the terms of service.
  5. Request a review of your account.

Dynamic Remarketing

With this program, you can take your remarketing ads to the next level. With Dynamic Remarketing, when your site visitors are remarketed with your ads on display, they can view ads of products they interacted with or showed an interest in on your website.

To set up dynamic remarketing, you need to set up the following options:

  1. Create your product feed in Google Merchant Center.
  2. Link your Google Ads and Google Merchant Center account.
  3. Add remarketing tags on your website that contain custom parameters like product id.
  4. Create remarketing audiences in Google Ads.
  5. Create a display campaign in Google Ads.   

Customer Reviews

With Customer Reviews, Google sends your customers an email and collects product reviews from them. These reviews are then shown on Google in your paid and free product listings.

Here are the requirements:

  1. After opting into this program, you will get a code snippet that has to be added to your website.
  2. Ensure that your order confirmation page is encrypted.

Local inventory ads

This program lets you showcase your products and store information to nearby shoppers searching for your products on Google. 

When customers click an ad on Google Shopping that shows your local product, they can view in-store inventory, get store hours, and directions to your stores.

To set up local inventory ads, you need:

  1. Create a Google My Business account.
  2. Link your Google My Business account to Google Merchant Center.
  3. Upload a local product inventory feed of your store.
  4. Request inventory verification
  5. Enable local products in your Shopping campaign.

Free local product listings

This tool allows your in-store inventory to show on Google’s free listings tab. If you have a physical store and have a feed set up in Google Merchant Center that syncs your product availability with GMC, you can use this tool to show customers the products that are available in your store without any cost.

For this program, you need:

  1. The same steps for linking GMB with GMC as explained in the previous section.
  2. Submit your product feed with your local inventory in GMC.


With this tool, you can show your ongoing sales and promotions on your shopping ads. Google will show your products with a sale badge which can help increase your clickthrough rate.

For this program, you need:

  1. When you opt into this program, you will have to submit a form for approval.
  2. Once approved, you can go and create your current promotion by setting up the sale details and start/end date of the promotion.

Product Ratings    

Got thousands of reviews on your products on your website and want to show those reviews alongside your shopping ad listings? This tool is what you need to show your existing site reviews.

To set up product ratings, you need to either:

  • Work with an approved review aggregator like Yotpo, Stamped or a number of other approved third-party tools.
  • If you don’t use a third-party tool and collect your reviews yourself, you will need to enable this program and submit a form. Google will reach out to you with questions regarding your review collection and verification process. If approved, you can set up a product review feed that will periodically fetch your product reviews from your website to Google Merchant Center.

These programs can improve your clickthrough rates and ultimately bring you more sales. Setting them up can take some work but your overall performance can be improved which makes the work worth it.