Google Shopping Ads: What We’ve Learned So Far
In October 2012, Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) became Google Shopping. With this, Google removed the Google Shopping listings from the organic side of the equation and made them a purely PPC play.
Many people, including Danny Sullivan, have noted that Google has now embraced a paid inclusion model. Things have certainly changed, and advertisers need to stay on top of their game to take advantage of new opportunities. In this article, I’ll share some tips we’ve learned related to Google Shopping ads.
Before getting started, a few notes on Google Shopping:
- It’s a feed-based product, and feeds are submitted via Google’s Merchant Center. After linking a feed to a Google AdWords account, the best strategy is to set up a separate campaign for all Google Shopping ads.
- Google Shopping has both CPC and CPA bidding. The biggest difference is that CPA doesn’t include the ability to label (more on this later) and doesn’t pay per click but only pays when a purchase is made. Bids are also set as a percentage of the price of a product (for example 20% of $100 = $20). We prefer CPC bidding because of its flexibility, and we tend to get pretty good ROI using it.
- In some more optimized accounts, Google shopping accounts for 25-30% of overall traffic. Over time, this may increase as ad units may increase in size and take up more screen real estate. Lately, Google has been testing a number of different sizes and shapes. Here’s an example of a common layout:
Optimizing Google Shopping Ads
There are different ways to optimize your Google Shopping advertising. There’s the optimization work related to the feed itself (like the content of the feed and specific attributes associated with the feed) and optimization work within the Google AdWords platform. My recommendations below will cover both.
Long Headlines & Descriptions In The Feed
As you know, there are no keywords associated with Google shopping ads, and Google pulls information from the feed to match relevant products to queries. You can increase the chances ads will show for specific queries with longer product titles and descriptions as Google has more content to pull from.
Think of it as SEO for your product feeds. On shopping.google.com, more information displays in the search results but titles and descriptions can get truncated; so, include your best content at the beginning of attributes. Titles can get truncated after 30-40 characters, but descriptions attributes are not limited as much and can be longer.
Take a look at the example for the George Foreman grill below:
Include Handy Attributes In The Feed
In the feed, basic fields like title, description, ID, product_type, image_link, etc. are required attributes. Below are some other handy attributes we also like to include in feeds. Note: these tend to be used by more sophisticated advertisers.
AdWords Grouping (adwords_grouping)
This is used to group products in any way you want. In the example below, adword_grouping has been used to create groups related to pillows, pillowcases, sheets, comforters, etc., but can be used to segment out high volume products, etc. This is a very good option for companies with relatively simple product sets.
AdWords Labels (adwords_labels)
This is similar to adwords_grouping, but works only with CPC bidding. The major benefit with adwords_labels is that it can hold multiple values and allows products to be tagged with multiple labels.
Use Auto Targets In AdWords Interface
Advertisers can bid on core attributes (above) using the auto targets tab. This allows advertising to bid differently based on product types, product groupings, etc. For example, an advertiser may want to bid differently for products grouped as “top sellers” than for a specific group created around other keyword terms.
It’s worth noting that a generic “all products” target is created by default in accounts that have Merchant Center feeds associated with it. “All products” casts a pretty wide net, so bid lower if you use this option. Another important point is that product targets have to match exactly or they will not show.
Take A Look At Your Keyword Terms
Despite many myths, advertisers can see keywords terms that trigger your Google Shopping ads in the Search Query Report at the campaign level. It’s wise to look at these terms to ensure the campaign is as relevant as possible and to pinpoint terms that are not a good fit. The best way to exclude terms is to have extensive negative keyword lists in your campaign (campaign or ad group level).
Here’s how to view keyword terms:
PLA campaign -> Keyword Tab -> Keyword details -> Search Terms -> select “All” to see all terms
You won’t see this option if you go into an ad group and then to the keywords tab. This is likely why so many people think it’s impossible to see keyword terms related to Google Shopping ads.
Try The “Promotion” Option In Google Shopping Ads
Advertisers are able to include a “promotion” with Google Shopping ads units. These are added in the “create an ad” part of the interface. Shipping and discount offers tend to work well in the promotion section and can really make ads pop when the format is displayed by Google. Differentiate your advertising from your competitors, especially if you’re in a competitive space.
Here’s where the promotion option is located in the interface:
Here’s an example of a Google Shopping promotional message:
Feel free to share your Google Shopping tips in the comment section below.
Author’s Note: A special thanks goes out to Stephen Woldenberg & Brian Bensch for their valuable help with this article.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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