Martech Fast Fashion Google Ads

Shein on: How Google Ads has enabled the rise of fast fashion brands

By Mairead Hill, Junior PPC Specialist



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July 14, 2023 | 6 min read

Rawnet’s Mairead Hill looks into Google Ads role in the rapid rise of the new fast fashion behemoths – and how their smaller competitors can still compete.

A rail of clothing in a store

How have Google Ads aided the rapid rise of fast fashion brands? / Lucas Hoang via Unsplash

The rapid growth of fast fashion brands, like new industry giant Shein, has been closely intertwined with their use of Google Ads. The search giant’s advertising tools have allowed these brands to expand their product visibility, dominate advertising space, and appeal to price-conscious consumers.

However, the rise of fast fashion through Google Ads raises concerns about sustainability (among other ethical implications), and expands the challenges faced by smaller companies in this highly competitive landscape.

So how has Google Ads facilitated this growth? And, given the challenges it poses, what are the potential solutions for smaller companies looking to compete in this space?

Expanding product visibility and advertising space

For fast fashion brands, a key advantage of using Google Ads (specifically shopping ads) is the ability to promote a wide range of products. By incorporating a huge number of long-tailed keywords, these companies increase their chances of appearing in relevant search results.

Using these shopping ads, companies like Shein can occupy multiple advertising spaces within search results, further boosting their visibility and brand exposure.

Fast fashion brands often cater to consumers seeking affordability; Google shopping ads provide the perfect platform to highlight competitive prices. These ads provide a quick and easy way for consumers to compare prices, encouraging them to make purchasing decisions based on cost alone.

Challenges for ethical and sustainable fashion

While fast fashion brands can easily optimize product listings for shopping ads, the same cannot be said for ethical or sustainable fashion companies. Terms like ‘ethical’ or ‘green’ are not typically found on every product page, making it difficult for these companies to appear in shopping ads and reach their target audience.

As a result, smaller companies lacking brand recognition face challenges in driving traffic and generating sales through other types of advertising campaigns without investing heavily in brand awareness.

Fast fashion sustainability concerns

The rise of fast fashion and its heavy reliance on price-driven advertising has raised concerns about the sustainability of this business model. Companies like Boohoo and Missguided have faced backlash due to labor rights concerns and environmental issues.

The intense emphasis on low prices and rapid production can perpetuate a ‘race to the bottom’ mentality, potentially compromising ethical standards and sustainability efforts. As consumers become more conscious of these issues, fast fashion brands may need to reassess their practices to ensure long-term viability.

Solutions for SMEs

Alternative approaches are necessary for SMEs that don't have extensive product ranges to promote through shopping ads. Optimizing product feeds and diversifying advertising campaigns has become crucial in maximizing limited resources.

By refining and optimizing their product feeds, companies can ensure that the available products reach the right audiences effectively. And by investing in other advertising campaigns, such as display or search ads, strategic keyword targeting, and audience segmentation can help smaller companies drive traffic and increase conversions.

Google Ads, through the ability to target long-tailed keywords, occupy multiple advertising spaces, and appeal to price-conscious consumers, have propelled the success of fast fashion brands like Shein. Ethical concerns about this model, and smaller companies face challenges in competing, but through optimization and diversification of their own advertising strategies, they can carve out their niche and connect with their target audiences. As the fashion industry continues to evolve, it becomes crucial to strike a balance between profitability, ethics, and sustainability.

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