Google’s Shopping Campaigns is a new type of Product Listing Ads (PLA) campaign that makes it easier to connect with clients and to promote your inventory online. It is a way to streamline your product management system, set bids for different items, get performance reports and discover ways that you can increase traffic to your site from Google.
However, there are some fundamental differences between the old Product Listing Ads and the Google Shopping Campaign that can potentially be costly for your client if you don’t know how Shopping Campaigns works.
Unlike with PLA campaigns, you no longer need to use keywords to indicate to Google when and where to display your ads. With Shopping Campaigns, every product that is mentioned in the merchant feed is, by default, targeted and will automatically show when it matches a search term.
Under Shopping Campaign, you can use “Product Groups” to divide your merchandise into smaller segments so that you can group similar items, choose to exclude some products, or set specific bids for certain items, for example your most popular selling item in a Group.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Product Groups are the same as placements or keywords because they are quite distinct. And you need to think carefully about the Product Groups you use or you could end up paying out more per click than is necessary.
The rule of thumb is to keep it simple and logical. Don’t put the same product into different Product Groups or you could end up with Groups competing against each other.
This means arranging your Product Groups as you would with actual merchandise inside a real store – with similar items grouped together. So, for example, Sony televisions go into the Product Group entitled “Televisions” and not under a Product Group entitled Sony. If at some later point you discover that Sony Televisions are your most popular selling TV and that you sell far more of these then of any other brand, then you can choose to create a separate Product Group just for them with its own specific bid mechanism.
But be aware that it really is important to avoid duplication or you could end up making it difficult both to predict in which category your product will appear and which bid Google will use – and remember that Google automatically defaults to the maximum bid.
There are many benefits to structuring your Shopping Campaigns into different ad groups in terms of using different negative bid modifiers and key words, and setting distinct budgets. However, Product Groups will NOT inherit the ad group bid in the same way that keywords once did. Once you create a Product Group it will have to have its own distinct bid and will lose any connection to the ad Group Bid.
When you set up your starting bid for any Product Group, this automatically over-rides your ad Group Bid. In other words, unlike what used to happen with keywords, Product Groups do NOT inherit the same bidding specifications as ad group bids.
If you want to manage your bids in Shopping Campaigns you need to adjust each Product Group bid individually at the lowest level – there is no general, overall easy fix to streamline bid management by treating them collectively other than to use AdWords’ bulk bids uploads tool.
Be warned – adjusting bids for each Product Group can be long and tedious – especially if you are managing multiple campaigns and thousands of different products.
Don’t create too many Product Groups when you set up your Shopping Campaigns.
You will need to set individual bids for every Product Group that you create which can take a lot of time and you won’t necessarily have all the information you need to be able to decide on satisfactory bidding criteria.
In the old days, when keywords were the defining criteria, Google automatically defaulted to the ad group bid when no specific criteria were set for the particular keyword in question.
Shopping Campaigns does NOT work like this. Once you have created the Product Group structure you have to manage each Group individually. This means that it is better to create larger Product Groups in the beginning and only begin to divide them still further when you actually have the information you need to be able to set specific and appropriate bid mechanisms.
Most marketers use AdWords UI, the API, the AdWords Editor or a 3rd party management tool to manage their AdWords campaigns.
This is not the case with Shopping Campaigns which are entirely dependent on the vocabulary included in the Merchant Feed and so have to be managed with a different set of tools.
For example, if you find that your ads do not always show where you think they should appear you will need to go back to the Merchant Feed and reassess its quality.
Look at your descriptions and titles to make sure that they incorporate the most relevant keywords to your product. Have you priced your item competitively? Have you set up product promotion packages? Is your item categorized and labelled with the correct identifier?
If any of this information is not included or is incorrect, this will affect how and where you product is displayed and you will need to tweak the vocabulary and terms you use until you can find out what works best.
Google Shopping gives every product a quality score which serves as an indicator as to whether the item in question is a satisfactory match for a specific search term.
Products with a low click through rate score may not even show.
If this happens to your product, you can investigate how your item is doing alongside the competition by comparing benchmark click through rates with benchmark cost per click. This is a very useful tool although as yet it only works for groups of products and not yet for individual items.
However, if you see that you product’s individual and group click through rates are low then you can reset its quality score by giving your item a new identity and starting over.
This is very useful to know if, for example, you are aware that your first stab at Shopping Campaigns only achieved a mediocre response and you now want to get your product a higher quality score.
Transitions are never easy and there is always a learning curve when embarking on anything new. It remains to be seen how Google’s Shopping Campaigns are going to affect the ad market though it seems likely that competition and therefore costs per click will increase.
Over time, new best practices will become apparent and all of us will learn how to make the system work for us. But in the meantime, if you discover any tweaks or tools that can help to make Google Shopping Campaigns easier to manage, we’d love to hear from you.
For all of your Google Advertising needs consult Wiskek’s AdWords specialists today and receive a free campaign evaluation report