24 Jul 2014

Google Shopping Campaigns: What You Need To Know

A couple of months ago, Google announced that the current Product Listing Ad format would be replaced by a newer version called the Google Shopping Campaigns in August. The team here at Vertical Measures has been transitioning accounts to this new ad format these past few months… have you started this transition for your own account(s)?

First things first, it’s most important to keep in mind that Product Listing Ads are not changing for the end users. Searchers will still see the same box of PLAs when searching up at the top right corner on the SERP, so nothing is changing on that end. The Google Shopping campaign roll out is really only changing the campaign management and optimization side of the house, including being able to really integrate your Google Merchant Center account with your Google AdWords account, and ultimately helping you make smarter decisions when optimizing your campaigns.

Similar to how Product Listings Ads are set up now, Google Shopping campaigns display products from the Merchant Center based on how you’ve segmented out your Ad groups in AdWords. Advertisers still upload their feed as usual to the Google Merchant Center and that’s where the main differences begin.

What Changes Within The Merchant Center Feed

Google shopping campaigns eliminates the need to only use AdWords labels when identifying your products and replaces it with the ability to add custom labels. While both feed labels will be used to identify product attributes in order to build out the ad groups, custom labels differ in the sense that advertisers are now allowed to be more flexible and use labels that are important to their product/organization when building out their feeds.

Learn More About Performance With Enhanced Reporting

One of the most talked about capabilities of the new Google Shopping campaigns is the better reporting capabilities built into the campaigns. With regular Product Listing Ads you were able to review performance data at the ad group level and at the targeting level. However with the Google Shopping Campaigns, you are able to review performance data at multiple different levels. You can decide how you’d like to review this data depending on what is important to you. This means that as an advertiser, you’re going to be able to dive in deeper to identify any trends about particular brands, categories, item IDs, etc.

The different ways you can separate out data is by:

  • Item ID
  • Product Type
  • Merchant Center ID
  • Store ID
  • Brand
  • Google Category

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Control Where Searchers Are Going And What Ads Are Being Served

Within the traditional PLAs, there is always an “All Product” ad group created that is essentially a catch-all to show for any product that is within the feed. As this image shows, the old PLA structure would show the “All Products” ad group when any keyword was searched, possibly cannibalizing the other ad groups in the account. However, that’s not the issue with Google Shopping Campaigns since this problem has now been eliminated with the new roll out. Google Shopping Campaigns still create a catch-all ad group called “Everything Else”, but that ad group captures just that, everything else not including the more specific ads you want to show when someone uses that query.

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Set Ad Priority And Control What Ads Show For What Queries

This has been one of the most misunderstood features of the Google Shopping Campaigns, which allows you to designate priorities of high, medium or low in order to tell Google which ad to show when a query that triggers multiple ads. The RKG Blog explains this feature very well in their explanation of What Google Shopping Campaign Priority Settings Really Mean:

“Google will not choose the product which it deems relevant to an auction based on campaign priority, it will only choose to consider the bid tied to that product based on campaign priority. Thus, as an example, you cannot ‘force’ Google to show a three pack of a product instead of a six pack just by placing the six pack product in a low priority campaign and the three pack in a high priority campaign. You can simply specify which bids for the three pack and six pack are taken into account in the auction.”

See Competitive Data To See How You Measure Up

One of the other newest features in the Google Shopping Campaigns is the ability to see competitive metrics in the AdWords interface. You’re able to see estimated average CTR and Max CPC for other advertisers with similar products. Along with these metrics, you’ll be able to see your ad’s impression share with will help you understand any lost opportunities due to bids that are not aggressive or limited budgets. As with your regular search campaigns, there is a bid simulator that allows you to estimate the amount of impressions you’ll receive as you adjust your bids.

The Google Shopping campaigns change really seems to be focused on providing advertisers with more granular information about how their Product Listing Ads are performing. As with many new feature roll outs we’ve seen in the past, we fully expect there to be hiccups in the road and there are always some additional tweaks that can be made (ad group build out in AdWords Editor, please!). For the most part this seems to be a strong move from Google to help retail advertisers be able to showcase their products and make smart decisions when optimizing their campaigns.