PPC & Media

How to Get Started With Google Shopping Campaigns

On February 18th, Google announced that Shopping campaigns are officially out of beta and available to all advertisers around the world. There are 3 big changes with the new campaign which you need to know about, because they will change the way you organize, optimize and report on product listing ads. The new campaigns will appear dramatically different from what merchants are currently seeing in AdWords, however, the changes are guaranteed to foster greater volume and revenue. In a recent post, Liam discussed the importance of product listing ads, vaguely touching upon the future. Well the future is here and you need to be prepared for what’s to come. So what are the big changes you can expect to see with the new shopping campaign?

1. Retail-Centric Product Targeting

So why is Google referring to this new campaign type as “retail-centric”? It is because the new campaign set up allows merchants to organize their products the same way they would organize their brick and mortar store. For example, when you walk into a clothing store you’ll notice different departments (men’s, women’s, children’s, etc), each department is then organized further (brands, type of clothing etc.). This is the same type of organization used within Google shopping campaigns. If you sell clothing, you may create a product group for women’s, within women’s you’ll create a product group for pants, within pants, you’ll create a product group for jeans and so on.

  • Use Product groups, not product targets, to divide product inventory.

Currently, product listing ad campaigns use product targets, which are found in the auto targets tab, to determine which set of products the merchant is bidding on. Product targets are formed by selecting from a limited group of attributes which are in the merchant center data feed. The attributes available for targeting are id, product type, brand, condition, Adwords labels, and Adwords grouping and are the only targeting option.

With shopping campaigns, product targets are going away, and product groups will be used to subdivide product inventory. This new retail-centric product targeting makes the entire Merchant Center data feed available for targeting, meaning you can drill down to create specific segments within larger categories using nearly all product attributes within the merchant center data feed including category, product type, brand, condition, item id, and custom labels. Even better, you can now see all of your product data from right within AdWords, making it even easier to decide which product groups you wish to create. Find this info right within the Products tab of your shopping campaign.

  • Use Custom Labels, not Adwords labels and grouping, to organize products.

Similar to Adwords labels and Adwords grouping, custom labels will now be used to tag products with traits that are important to you. For example, you might add a custom label for products with the best margins or for products which are on sale, you can then use labels to filter product groups. You can add as many as five custom labels for each product, numbered 0 through 4, which will need to be included in your merchant center data feed. Custom labels should be used the same way Adwords labels and groupings were used, the only big change is the number of labels available.

How to get started with Product Groups

Google automatically adds “all products” as a product group when you create your adgroup. A hierarchy is used to subdivide the “all products” group into more granular product groups. Assuming that you have updated your data feed to include the new attributes you’d like to filter by, click on the + next to the all products product group, you can then subdivide that group into more granular targets. If you wish to drill down even further, click the + next to which ever product group you’d like to subdivide. Following these same steps, you can create up to seven levels of product groups.


2. More robust and advanced reporting

As it stands, reporting for product listing ads is fairly limited compared to the reporting capabilities of search and display network campaigns. Metrics are only available at the campaign, adgroup, and product target level. Although smart advertisers have product targets which use Adwords labels and groupings to get more granular, this is typically a process to set up. With the new shopping campaigns, even if you chose to only target “all products” you will still have access to product level metrics.

  • Reporting at the product level

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Get data for every product, regardless of how your product groups are set up. Within the new Google shopping campaigns, you’ll see data at the individual product level if you desire, allowing merchants more in-depth insight as to which products are significantly influencing performance. In the products group tab, you’ll find all of the standard Adwords metrics, clicks, impressions, CTR, average CPC, conversion data etc. for all of the product groups you’re targeting. If you click over to the dimensions tab, you have access to the data which is available in the Shopping section. Individual product data can be seen by selecting Item ID from the drop down menu.

3. Competitive insights

Currently, there are no competitive insights for product listing ads. Average position isn’t even available at the aggregate level, leaving virtually no ability to understand potential opportunity against merchants promoting similar products. Within the new shopping campaign, competitor insight is available at the product group level. Impression share, benchmark CTR, and benchmark CPC are powerful new metrics available for product listing ads that will give you insight into how your ads are performing compared to your competitors allowing you to make data driven optimizations.

  • Impression share

Impression share is the number of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. This metric gives insight into how many more impressions are available. If your product group has a low impression share, try increasing your bids.

  • Benchmark clickthrough rate (CTR)

Benchmark CTR shows the CTR for similar products based on an average of how often people who see the ad end up clicking on it. Again, this metric provides insight into how your competitors are performing. If the benchmark CTR is significantly higher than yours, try raising bids, or improving product title, description and images.

  • Benchmark maximum cost-per-click (max. CPC)

Benchmark CPC tells you how advertisers are bidding on similar products. If the benchmark is much higher than what your bids are set to, consider raising your bid in order to be more competitive.

Sold yet?

If you’re ready to make the switch then here are a few changes you’ll need to make to your data feed. Shopping campaigns are subdivided based on existing data from the category, brand, item ID, condition, product type, and custom label attributes within the merchant center data feed. Custom labels are the biggest addition to the feed. Create up to five custom labels, numbered 0 through 4, for each item in your feed. You may submit one value per item for each custom label attribute. That is 5 custom labels per product which need to be labeled as [custom_label_0], [custom_label_1], [custom_label_2], [custom_label_3], and [custom_label_4]. Aside from adding custom labels, make sure to provide the most up-to-date and descriptive information within your feed and you’ll be ready to go!

Katie Olson

Katie Olson - Sr. PPC & Media Specialist

Katie loves Boston sports, ice cream, chardonnay & re-arranging furniture. She is as real as her Twitter followers.

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