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blue shopping bag

Google continues to expand and refine the number of avenues it offers advertisers looking to generate more revenue. One of these avenues is Google Product Listing Ads. While this is a feature that’s been around for quite some time, they’ve recently refined it with Shopping Campaigns. This will make it easier for the average user to incorporate into their accounts.

Product Listing Ads: What are they?

Some of you may not be very familiar with what exactly they are. While you may not recognize the name, you’ve surely run across them multiple times while conducting your searches in Google. These are the ads where you see the product, along with an image and price. product listing ads

You’ll notice that these images take up a fairly prominent role on the page. This is something that you’ll want to take advantage of, or test at the very least.

What do I need to get started?

Product Feed

You’ll first need a feed of all your products (or at least those that you want incorporated into PLA’s). Quite often if you’re a retail store, this is something that you’ll already have.

Google Merchant Center Account

If you don’t already have one, you’ll want to create one. It’s the tool that will allow you to upload your product data for use in Google Shopping and through Product Listing Ads on Google Search.

Connecting Your Google Merchant Center to Your AdWords Account

Within your GMC (Google Merchant Center) account you’ll want to click on ‘Settings’ and then AdWords. Enter in your account Id and press ‘link account’. You’re able to connect multiple AdWords accounts to one GMC.

What are the benefits of Shopping campaigns over regular product listing ads?

Easier to use

Google wants more of its user base taking advantage of PLA’s so they’ve streamlined the interface. The average user should be more comfortable within it and we’ll all be able to save time because of it.

Browse by Attribute

pla attributes

New within Shopping campaigns is the ability to browse by attribute. Break these out directly within the interface which include the following attributes:

  • Brand
  • Product Type
  • Category
  • Item Id
  • Custom Labels

Obtain benchmark data

pla benchmark

Curious how you’re comparing with other players in the same industry? Google gives us the benchmark data we love including:

  • CTR
  • CPC
  • Impression Share

Avg. CTR’s and CPC’s can change depending on the industry. This should help you gauge where you stand.

Custom Labels

With regular product listing ad campaigns we would use AdWords Labels and Groupings. These will no longer be available. What will be available are new Custom Labels. You’re limited to only 5 labels, so you’ll want to be careful with what you’re choosing. Labels are a great way to break out specific groupings with which you’ll want to bid differently on.

Use Dimensions

As we know, when it comes to optimizing a campaign, it’s all about the data. With new shopping campaigns you’ll be able to use dimensions to determine where clicks are coming from. If you’ve got a campaign targeting ‘all products’ you can now use the dimensions tab to breakdown where your profitable clicks are coming from, whether it’s a specific brand or category.

Optimizing Shopping Campaigns within the AdWords Interface

Break out Product Targets

Likely not all of your brands or categories have equal value. If you’re just running with an ‘All products’ target then you might be spending more than you need and leaving revenue on the table. Break out product targets to give you the flexibility for separate bids.

Bid separately on Product Targets

Once you’ve broken out those product targets don’t just leave them all at the same bid level. Use your reporting data to determine how they’re working and bid accordingly.

If you’re just starting out with shopping campaigns, start by breaking out your most profitable product targets (as seen within your search campaigns).

Utilize Promotions

product listing ad promotion

Too often we see promotions updated once and then left stagnant for the next six months. Competition increases every year, so you’ll want to stand-out from the pack. If you have monthly or weekly promotion, consider emphasizing it within ads. If you don’t have a promotion then consider adding a ‘point of difference’ which makes your product superior to others that are out there.

 Tag Groupings with Custom Labels

Group together products using custom labels. This will allow you to separate and bid on these products together. You’ll need to put some consideration into these custom labels because (as mentioned earlier) you only get the use of five of them. Some grouping that may get consideration are things like:

  • Seasonal products
  • Special promotions
  • Bestsellers

Optimizing Through the Google Merchant Center

Fill out the feed as completely as possible:

Make sure that you’re making use of all of the appropriate categories. We want to give Google plenty of information to maximize visibility for appropriate product searches. There are attributes that are ‘required’, and you’ll also find Google ‘recommended’ attributes. The required attributes are obviously necessary and failure to fill these out can result in products not showing up. You’ll also want to fill out the recommend attributes, as not doing this can risk reducing your visibility considerably.

Ensure that all links are live:

This is an obvious point, but always worth the time to double check. Check both site links and image links to make sure that they’re live and going to the right page.

Include high quality images:

Make sure that all of you images are of a high quality and decent resolution (400×400). Nobody wants to look at poor images as this can reflect negatively with the products.

Review Title & Descriptions:

Go through spot-checking your Title and Descriptions. You’ll want to make sure that these are all accurate, well written and contain the important information that you want to convey. Spending some time ensuring that these are properly constructed can go a long way to improving your results. You’ll also want to take note that there are character limits so keep the Title to within 70 characters to avoid truncation.

Something to remember is that feed specifications will differ depending on the country that you’re from. To find out more on specification for your location, you can find it here.

Review GMC for Errors & Recommended Fixes

Once you’ve gone through the feed ensuring it’s up-to-date, you’ll want to upload it into Google Merchant Center and then review for any errors and recommendations. Click on ‘Data Feeds’ within the left navigation and then the ‘Status’ tab to discover any Warnings. If you’ve notice a large drop in impressions and are having problems with your feed, you’ll want to start here. You’ll also want to click on the Data Quality link in the left navigation. Google may have some recommendation on areas to fix.

If you’d like to learn more about setting up Google Shopping campaigns, attend one of our AdWords 201 training sessions in the US and Canada.

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