8 Key Reasons Google Shopping Ads Fail and How to Fix Each One

Shopping campaigns are the bread and butter for ecommerce, but what do you do when they misbehave?

Google Shopping Ads are the bread and butter for most ecommerce stores, and setting up your Google Shopping campaigns correctly involves a few key steps. This makes it a frustrating experience when your newly created shopping campaigns fail to deliver your dream outcome. 

Whether they fail to generate the desired results, perform below expectations, or fail to deliver any impressions, it’s important to have a step-by-step framework effectively to pinpoint the cause of the issue. You need to diagnose before you can implement the “right” solution to your specific problem.

If this resonates with you, you’re not alone. It’s something that we all are facing from time to time. The aim of this article is for it to be your go-to resource when your shopping campaigns are misbehaving

Check if your Google Shopping campaigns are showing ads by understanding whether or not they generate impressions in Google Ads. 

Make sure you take into account the initial review period, the learning period for automated bidding as well as delays to delivery after changing campaign settings. 

Explore the 8 most common issues that can prevent your Google Shopping ads from showing and discover actionable solutions to address them.

First “issue” that’s somewhat easy to sort to begin with is newly launched shopping campaigns not getting any impressions - in almost all cases it’s tied to smart bidding that needs time to “kick into gear” and/or the initial review period being longer than normal. This is perfectly normal, but when this happens please have a look through your setup and check if you have any product disapprovals. If everything is fine here, allow the campaign more time to begin serving. 

With that sorted, let’s get into it

8 reasons why your Google Shopping Ads fail and how to fix them

1. Google Merchant Center X Google Ads issues 

While most people look at the campaign level to diagnose the shopping ads issue, chances are that the problem might be elsewhere than in the Google Ads interface 

You could have multiple issues in Google Merchant Center that could prevent your Shopping Ads from getting off the ground 

These could be: 

  • Merchant Center and Google Ads linking

Not linking your Google Merchant Center to Google Ads will 100% guarantee your shopping ads to not get any impressions. You are simply not sending the required product data into Google Ads for the shopping ads campaign to serve them. 

Fix this by navigating to Google Ads > Tools and Settings > Data Manager > Link Google Merchant Center 

  • Verified and claimed website 

Your website must be verified and claimed in Google Merchant Center to run shopping ads. Simply as that. To fix this navigate to Google Merchant Center > Tools > Business Information > Website 

2. Google Merchant Center account issues and disapprovals

The diagnostics section in GMC is your best friend here - at a glance, you get a perfect picture of what the situation is about item issues, feed issues, or account issues.

It’s an evergreen recommendation to regularly check your Google Merchant Center, as items can get disapproved by mistake, and those item disapprovals could hit your bestseller categories resulting in performance tanking. 

Underneath of the overview, you are always presented with a breakdown of all the item/feed-related issues that might affect your Google Shopping performance or simply prevent your Google Shopping Ads from serving and getting impressions. 

My advice is to use the issue breakdown and refer back to Google Merchant Center’s documentation about the most common issues 

Note: the screenshots are provided from Google Merchant Center, but could be totally different with the new Google Merchant Next which is currently rolling out, as of writing this. 

3. Google Merchant Center programs not accepted or completed 

This is a pretty obvious one, but in a few instances, I have been auditing Google Merchant Center accounts where this step was missed. 

Typical cases for missing this are when you are trying to expand your ecommerce brand into other markets, and as a result, need a new Google Merchant Center, by mistake was trying to force the setup phase and forgetting the completion of the shopping program 

4. Google Shopping Ads policies issues 

To show Google Shopping Ads you need to comply with the numerous shopping ad policies 

I won't bore you with a complete breakdown of the policies because - let's be honest - it’s super boring to study these, but in general, there are 4 different policy topics: 

  1. Prohibited content – Content you’re not allowed to promote on Google 
  2. Prohibited practices – Things you can't do if you want to advertise on Google
  3. Restricted content – Content you can advertise, but with limitations
  4. Editorial and technical – Quality standards for your ads and website

Find the data about them all here, for when you are facing policy issues: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6149970 

Some general rules of thumb I use myself are: 

  1. Be very aware of supplements in Google Shopping Ads 
  2. Do not use too many text overlays in your shopping images 
  3. Expect to be limited when advertising alcohol (even in countries where it’s allowed) 

5. Unoptimized product shopping feed 

Well, while this might not prevent your shopping ads from serving, an unoptimized shopping feed definitely will limit your ability to get great performance from Google Ads. 

Shopping Ads are activated when different attributes in our shopping feed match up with a consumer's search query in the SERP, so a suboptimal shopping feed might not show for all the searches that might be relevant to your business or product range. 

This is obviously an issue, as your performance will tank. 

The solution to this is to develop a solid feed optimization plan (article incoming) and make sure that all possible attributes are being added in a structured way to your very own shopping feed. 

There are multiple ways of going about optimizing your shopping feed, and I often see that this is being made way too complex than it really is. 

I use a feed management tool for this, but in reality, you can optimize your feed in Google Merchant Center by navigating to a product and pressing the pencil at the top

It’s pretty manageable if you have a lower SKU amount under 20-30 SKUs, but if you have a high SKU amount I would recommend you start by optimizing your bestsellers and make sure these are fully optimized before optimizing other SKUs 

6. Budget and bidding issues 

This is a big one and I see it quite often. Google Shopping campaigns need enough daily budget to run and gather data (clicks/conversion) in order to be more confident in their ability to serve a shopping ad to a consumer that’s in-market for what you are selling. 

If your bid exceeds your daily budget there is a chance that the campaign won't serve any ads. For example, if you have a target CPA of €10 with a €5 daily budget, or a target ROAS of 800% with a €5 daily budget - These are extreme cases, but I think you get the idea 

Allow your shopping campaigns enough daily budget (+€20 as a rule of thumb) and set a realistic target for the campaign or consider starting your shopping campaign with a non-restrictive bidding model which are maximize conversions, maximize conv. value, max clicks, etc., and then switch over to a value-based bidding model such as a target ROAS/CPA

7. Conversion tracking issues

Google Shopping campaigns that rely on smart bidding also rely on accurate conversion tracking. 

If conversion tracking breaks (scripts are being deleted in the back-end or similar) you will be very likely to be met with a warning in the Google Ads interface and see your campaigns decline in spend/impressions/clicks 

The solution for when this happens can vary depending on which aspects in the setup that break, but it’s usually because tracking scripts and/or data layers are being deleted from the back-end and more specifically from the order-status page 

8. Targeting overlap 

As well as campaign targeting being a factor that contributes to Shopping ad issues, account or campaign targeting overlap can also impact the delivery of a shopping campaign

Have 2 (or more) shopping campaigns with the same SKUs? Well, you could then experience that one of the campaigns is running fine, while the remaining campaigns aren't doing anything at all 

This is more common than I would like it to be and is created based on a misunderstanding on how shopping campaigns work in a Google Ads account. 

The fix is fairly easy and starts by identifying if products are overlapping in more campaigns in the product tab in Google Ads 

Next up you have a few options. 

You can either turn off the overlapping campaigns or simply choose another bidding model for the overlapping campaigns if you want to drive some additional clicks to the same set of products 

I see this work fairly well with PMax campaigns, having a std. Shopping campaign running alongside it with Manual CPC/Maximize Clicks to a subset of products to drive more sales to those SKUs. 


Navigating Google Shopping campaigns can be challenging, especially when performance issues are not immediately clear or obvious.

If your Google Shopping campaign is underperforming, not meeting targets, or failing to generate impressions, this article could be your checklist of practical steps to diagnose and solve the underlying problems.

For advertisers dealing with feed-related issues i have a more comprehensive product-feed article in the works, which you get when it's done

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