Google CSS FAQs Answered

Frequently Answered Questions About CSS and Google’s Answers

As you may be aware, we recently announced that we had become a Google CSS Partner – now able to bring you discounts galore on your shopping ads. But we also know that you probably have lots of questions about this. We hope to answer some of these here. These have been slightly adapted from the Google FAQs page.

Shopping Insights CSS

Do I need to use a CSS to place Shopping ads on the Google general search results page?

In a word, yes. Either CSSs or Google Shopping Ads can place Shopping ads. You can use several CSSs simultaneously.


Do I have to pay Google for ads placed by CSSs on my behalf?

You pay through the CSSs, who pay Google for clicks on placed ads. The CSS will choose how to invoice you. Google charges merchants based on a Cost per Click model.


Will my products be shown several times next to one another?

Google says:

We do our best not to show multiple instances of the same offer (that’s the same product offered by the same merchant). If we identify that the same product from the same merchant has been uploaded by several CSSs, we will only show it once in the ad unit. In the rare cases when we cannot detect that two offers are the same, they may both show up in the same Shopping unit. The CPCs paid by the winning CSSs do not increase in such a scenario because a merchant is never second-priced against itself.

This doesn’t apply to different products from the same merchant. These can appear through several CSSs in the same unit. So if someone searches for running shoes, one of your pairs of shoes may appear from one CSS and another model could appear from a different CSS. But don’t worry, you won’t pay more Cost per Click in this instance, because you’re never second-priced against yourself.

Shopping Insights CSS

Will I end up paying more for Shopping ads if more than one CSS advertises on my behalf?

As we just mentioned, you’ll never be second-priced against yourself in an auction for any offer, that’s true regardless of the number or identity of the CSSs you’ve used. So if two CSSs are placing bids for you, the winning offer and the price paid by the winning CSS will be the same as if the bids were placed by the same CSS.

Also, even if several CSSs are placing ads on your behalf, your offers won’t be repeated or that Google will charge more for a click on any of them.


Google Examples: CSS A bids 30 pence per click to place your offer. For simplicity, we’ll assume that all ads have the same quality and relevance.

Scenario 1: The next highest CSS bid is 20 pence on behalf of a different merchant. Your offer will win the auction at a cost of 20 pence – only as much as necessary to maintain the position.

Offers uploaded through Merchant Bid placed by CSS Price paid by winning CSS if their ad is clicked
CSS A Merchant 1 (you) 30 20
CSS A Merchant 2 20
CSS A Merchant 3 15
CSS A Merchant 4 12

Scenario 2: Now assume that another CSS starts advertising on your behalf and bids 25 pence. You still win the auction with the 30 pence bid that CSS A made on your behalf, but the next closest competitor now bids 25 pence. Since this competitor is a CSS who’s also bidding on your behalf, we do not use that second bid to determine the price that CSS A pays. Instead, we find the next highest bid that’s been placed for a different merchant, which is still 20 pence. The CPC paid for the winning bid does not change and remains at 20 pence.

Offers uploaded through Merchant Bid placed by CSS Price paid by winning CSS if their ad is clicked
CSS A Merchant 1 (you) 30 20
CSS B Merchant 1 (you) 25
CSS A Merchant 2 20
CSS A Merchant 3 15

Scenario 3: Now assume, instead, that the bid placed on your behalf by CSS B is higher than the bid placed by CSS A on your behalf. In this case, CSS B will win the auction. The next highest bid is the 30 pence bid that CSS A placed, also on your behalf. Since both bids are for the same merchant, we do not use CSS A’s bid to determine the price of the click that CSS B pays. Instead, we use the next highest bid for a different merchant, which is still 20 pence. The CPC paid by CSS B for your product will be 20 pence.

Offers uploaded through Merchant Bid placed by CSS Price paid by winning CSS if their ad is clicked
CSS B Merchant 1 (you) 40 20
CSS A Merchant 1 (you) 30
CSS A Merchant 2 20
CSS A Merchant 3 15

Shopping Insights CSS

How do I know how much CSSs bid in the auction on my behalf?

CSSs like Broadplace will usually report the numbers of clicks being sent your way and charge per click. A good CSS should also report additional information or detailed bidding data.

Google Shopping is required by the European Commission to be independently profitable. Google Shopping currently ensures profitability by deducting a fixed percentage margin from each merchant bid before entering it into the auction. The margin is included in the CPC paid by the merchant and is charged only when a user clicks on one of the merchant’s ads. In general, we recommend that merchants compare cost and returns of different marketing channels to assess which ones work best for them.


Where will my product ads be shown?

Your Shopping ads will be shown on the general Google search results pages. They will also be shown on the website of the CSS that submitted them (in Broadplace’s case this would be Pricegetter, our own price comparison site).


How can I find out which CSSs advertise on my behalf on Shopping ads?

You can check who’s advertising on your behalf by logging in to your Merchant Centre account. Click on ‘Shopping ads’ in the menu on the left and then click on ‘Configuration’. You’ll be shown a dashboard of all the CSSs posting products from your website. You’ll also find contact information for each of them. If you don’t have a Merchant Centre account for that particular domain, you can create one for free. You don’t need to upload any offers to see the dashboard.


Is it better to advertise through a specific CSS?

This depends entirely on your situation – your business, its goals and services offered by CSSs. Don’t forget, you can use several CSSs at the same time to discover what works best for you. All CSSs and Google Shopping have the same chances to place ads for you on Google’s general search results pages. CSSs can’t reserve ad spaces.

Shopping Insights CSS case study 3

What if I don’t want a specific CSS to advertise for my products?


Different CSSs may provide different value-add services. However, we understand that you may want to control how your ads are appearing. We recommend that you reach out to the relevant CSS to discuss any concerns that you might have (customer service website, phone number and email address are provided for each CSS in your Merchant Center dashboard). All CSSs can adjust the volume of traffic that they are sending you using bids and budgets as well as pausing or activating campaigns. Some CSSs allow their merchants to control campaigns directly through an interface that they provide. You can also use the dashboard in Merchant Center to opt in and out of a particular CSS channel. Opt-outs may take up to 24 hours to become effective.

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