Earlier this year, Google released Shopping campaigns to all advertisers in AdWords. In a nutshell, Shopping campaigns are a new way of managing Product Listing Ads on Google. They offer a simpler and more flexible way of organising your Google Merchant Centre product feed inventory within AdWords.
Prior to this announcement, we had managed these campaigns using regular Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Google will be retiring PLA campaigns at the end of August, so if you haven’t upgraded to Shopping campaigns yet – you are running out of time!
The success of product listing ads is very much dependent upon the quality of information in your product feed and how your campaign is structured, so we have put together a small checklist of important things you can action now to make sure you are fully optimised for Google Shopping.
1. Add in custom label attributes
The most important change to note when upgrading from PLAs to Shopping is that the ‘adwords_grouping’ and ‘adwords_labels’ attributes will not work with Shopping campaigns. Instead, you need to create custom labels in your feed to organise your products. You can have up to 5 labels, numbered 0 to 4, which include your own categorisation of products. Some ideas for these values include product category, gender, season/collection, top-sellers, high margin products and sale/promotional products.
You can then use these custom labels to structure your shopping campaigns in AdWords in a much more organised way, similar to how you would lay out your website or your store if you have one.
2. Update feed with new Google requirements
Google have just released an update to their shopping feed requirements which is likely to require some changes to your current feed. There are also some new attributes which have been released:
- Mobile landing page – a new attribute which should be used when the URL is different on mobile devices to desktops
- Product bundles – a new attribute which should be used if you have products sold in bundles, e.g. camera with lens
- Availability – the value ‘available for order’ is being removed and merged with ‘in stock’, while a new ‘availability date’ attribute has been added to let shoppers know when pre-ordered products will be available for delivery
- Clothing – new attributes including age group, size system and size type
These changes need to be implemented by 30th September, otherwise you run the risk of products being disapproved. The updated specification can be found here.
3. Keep your feed fresh and accurate
Once your feed has been optimised with all of the latest specs, make sure it is kept fresh and up to date with any price or stock changes, otherwise feeds can be disapproved and ads won’t show. We have seen many instances where ads are disapproved because of mismatched data between the feed and website (around price or availability), so we usually recommend the feed is automatically updated daily and run overnight so that it doesn’t impact campaign performance.
4. Optimise bids using new metrics
Once you have optimised your feed and upgraded to Google Shopping – the fun part begins! Managing Shopping campaigns is very similar to managing Product Listing Ads, but with Shopping you have access to new metrics which will help to more effectively manage and optimise your campaigns.
The first two metrics are benchmark CTR and benchmark CPC, which show how you are doing against your competition. This is useful for setting your starting bids and then you can adjust from there depending if you are above or below the benchmark.
The third metric, and in our view the most powerful, is impression share. This metric shows a ratio of how many shoppers your ads are reaching against how many they could reach. If your impression share is less than 100% and you are generating a profitable ROI, you should consider increasing your bids and budgets to maximise impression share and drive more traffic and sales.
5. Anticipate changes in search volume
One of the most important things when running PPC campaigns is to make sure you plan ahead to maximise traffic and sales during key times of the year. Your strategy for shopping campaigns should be no different to your standard text ad campaigns, so make sure bids and budgets are increased to allow for the peaks in search volume.
Google Shopping is now one of the most important channels for online retailers. Although product listing ads worked well for our clients, since upgrading to Google Shopping we have seen even better results, with ROI up by an average 25% across all of our clients since upgrading.
With only 176 days to go until Christmas (crazy, I know!) now is the time to get your product feed in order, upgrade to Google Shopping (if you haven’t already) and start optimising using the new metrics available.
Shopping campaigns are going to be a key revenue driver for online retail this Christmas, so make sure you plan well in advance to maximise traffic from this channel. Those who do this well be laughing come January!