Marketing Wine with Google Shopping Ads

Tasting Merchants Case Study - #1

Curious how to jump into digital marketing for your winery? Join Highway 29 Creative as we examine our in-house case study Tasting Merchants. 

We created Tasting Merchants as an online wine retailer focusing on small batch wines. More later on the start-up process, including ABC permits, etc. We believe so strongly that digital marketing is the next frontier for the wine industry, that we decided to put our money where our mouth is. We invested our own funds and time to create the branding, design the website, build it, curate the portfolio, design a fulfilment system, and launch. In all, it took about 10 months to go from idea to a full brand and business.  

The biggest and most exciting challenge ahead of us is building brand awareness and acquiring customers. To be clear, there was no existing email list or group of buyers lined up when we launched Tasting Merchants. The goal of this case study is to show you how to go from inception to a thriving digital wine business. This will not be easy and will take many years to accomplish. Rome was not built in a day. But, we are excited to share our journey and be an open book so we can all learn and navigate this journey together.

Google Shopping for Wine

We challenge you to go to Google and search for any wine. You can type in anything as simple as Chardonnay or be more specific and type in a specific brand. When we ran these searches, we were taken aback that only large online retailers such as, Total Wine, and Wine Library were showing up in the Google search results.

As a marketing agency focusing on Direct to Consumer wine sales, we hate to see only the mature retailers taking advantage of such simple and easy to use digital tools. We set out to explore Google Shopping and figure out how every wine brand can take part. 

The first step to setting up a Google Shopping Feed is to have a catalog of your products. There are a few options for this, including creating a manual spreadsheet, but we believe in working smart, not hard. Like it or not, automation is the future. We hate hearing “I don’t have enough time” as an excuse for not engaging in digital marketing so we at Highway 29 Creative created an automated Shopping Feed. 

We built an app for Commerce7, the e-commerce platform we are using, that takes your product information and automatically creates a spreadsheet with all of the necessary details. This app is available through the Commerce7 app store for all to use! The app outputs a link to your Shopping Feed that you can upload to Google. That’s all it takes! The feed automatically updates as you toggle the wines you want to include or not in the feed. 

With our Shopping Feed ready to go we next created a Google Shopping ad campaign. We started this feed last week with basic key words specific to the wines that Tasting Merchants carries. Google takes our list of preferred keywords and compares them to user searches and displays our products based on relevance. As users begin to interact with our ads, Google calculates the click-through-rate (CTR) and starts ranking our ads based on how many users engage with them. The more interactions, the higher our ads appear on the search results page. 

After only one week, Tasting Merchant’s was outranking all the major retailers on Google Ads with the exception of

After only one week, Tasting Merchant’s was outranking all the major retailers on Google Ads with the exception of

After only a week of running our Google Shopping ads, Tasting Merchants is outranking all the big retails except Take that Total Wine and Wine Library! Best of all, we average only $0.26 per click on these ads. Take a moment to think about that ROI. You spend $0.26 and a customer discovers your website and buys a $50 bottle of wine. That is a no brainer!

Example of Tasting Merchants Google Shopping Ad (second from left) for Small Vines Chardonnay. The creative features a beautiful lifestyle bottle shot via our friends at  Outshinery .

Example of Tasting Merchants Google Shopping Ad (second from left) for Small Vines Chardonnay. The creative features a beautiful lifestyle bottle shot via our friends at Outshinery.

So how did we so quickly conquer Google Shopping? It comes down to our content! Our research showed that everyone else used a basic bottle shot on a white background or a JPEG of their wine label as the image. We knew we could create more interesting content and went to our friends at Outshinery to create digital lifestyle bottle shots. We created four custom backgrounds and assigned one to each wine. Our result was a stunning, captivating, and unique bottle shot that stood out compared to boring white background bottle shots. 

 Next Steps

Knowing we have beautiful content to display on Google Shopping, we are going to further optimize our ad. In addition to using search terms specific to the names of the wines we carry, we are going to add long-tail key words. These types of keywords are very specific and therefore are more likely to be from a user in shopping mode. We are going to try terms like “Best Dry Rose” and “Top Rated Sonoma Valley Cabernets”. We expect these terms to drive more traffic to our website and lead to higher sales conversion rates.


About Highway 29 Creative – We are a digital and creative agency serving the wine industry. We push our clients to think about the future and constantly innovate. We chase data, not fads, and provides one-stop shopping for wineries looking to enter or jolt their direct to consumer sales. Our approach starts by designing and building a website focused on conversion (wine sales, club sign ups & tasting room reservations) and then dives into each digital channel with consistent and effective content and messaging. What to learn more? Shoot us a line at