Google Shopping Ads: A Short Guide

A quick overview of the essentials to Google Shopping Ads.

Google Shopping Ads can be difficult for people to jump into, mainly because the learning curve to get started is steep. If you don't have a good foundation in eCommerce, that early work can get pretty technical, pretty fast.

However, if you overcome these obstacles from the get go, steep rewards can be reaped in the long run.

In this short guide, we will cover the basics you need to know to get started with Google Shopping Campaigns. Feel free to shoot us a message if you need to learn more and we'll provide you with further resources.

Product Feed

To run Shopping Ads, the first thing that needs to be created is a product feed. While it may look intimidating, it is essentially an excel spreadsheet that contains all of your product information.

The challenge is providing Google all the different attributes for your products in the correct format.

Most ecommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce or Wix provide an app or a plugin that will do the heavy lifting for you. But sometimes these plugins fail, become outdated, and you have to create the attributes yourself.

If this is the case, you can find several resources to help you with your product feed.

Google Merchant Center

Google Merchant Center is a free Google tool that helps you format your product feed in the format that Google needs.

When you log into Google Mercent Center and connect your product feed, Google will give you information on the quality of the product details you have provided. Depending on the platform you use, you may be able to connect your product feed automatically via the API. This is the case for Shopify or Magento.

On other platforms you will have to add the feed manually.

The Google Merchant Center will then do an audit of your attributes and point out any errors. The amount of red you see will solely depend on the quality of your product feed.

Once all the errors have been fixed, you can move on to Google Ads.

Smart Shopping Campaigns

There are two types of shopping camapigns you can run on Google Ads, Smart Shopping Campaigns, or Standard Shopping Campaigns.

Smart Shopping campaigns are being promoted hard by Google, and the biggest difference between the two is that Google automates many tasks that need to be done manually with Standard Shopping Campaigns.

There is a debate in the eCommerce and PPC communities as to how much one should rely on Google to automate your advertising. One the one hand, having Google automate tasks frees up time that can be better spent elsewhere. But on the other hand, relying too much on Google can mean your ad budget gets spent less efficiently.

If you choose to go with a Standard Shopping Campaign, you will have more contro over your campaigns. In particular, you will be able to control:

  • Bidding (how much you spend on your ads)
  • Where your ads show up
  • Which search queries you’re showing up for

For beginners, the smart shopping campaigns may be all that is needed. But to maximize profit, standard shopping campaigns will pay off in the long run.

Negative Keywords

Google does not allow you to pick the keywords you want your Shopping Ads to appear for, although there are workarounds.

Instead, you have to add negative keywords for the search terms you don't want your ad to appear for.

Common negative keywords are those that are related to low-purchase intent, such as free, cheap, used or DYI.

Keyword research using tools like Google's Keyword Planner can be an easy way to find negative keywords.

Bidding

Bidding is the next essential step that needs to be done. The right bidding strategy will pay off dearly down the road.

The problem is that you can only really start optimizing your bidding strategy once you have conversion data coming in.

When starting out, the best bidding strategy to choose is Manual CPC. Avoid Maximize Clicks, because that could drain your budget in a few days.

Once you have enough conversion data, you can try out Google's automated bidding strategies like Enhanced CPC or Target ROAS.

Shopping Campaign Structure

How should you structure your shopping campaigns?

The default setup is a single campaign that contains a single ad group with a single product group. You can also split out product groups to bid differently for certain products.

But there are several problems with the default setup for your shopping campaigns, namely you will end up paying the exact same amount for any search queries Google decides to match to your products.

For example, if you are a bike shop and are selling a bicycle, would you pay the same amount to have your ad shown to someone who searched for 'bicycle' vs somebody who searched for "Emonda SLR 7 Trek Bicycle", the exact brand your are selling?

Of course not.

A branded search term of the exact bicycle you are selling will have a much higher conversation rate than an unbranded search like 'bicycle.'

So in this case, you would want to increase the bidding on the branded search, because a click there by a customer is a lot more valuable to you, and has a higher chance of resulting in a sale.

And in the default setup with Google Shopping Campaigns, this isn't possible.

The way to fix this, is to replace a single campaign that targes all search queries and instead create duplicate campaigns for products that target different keywords with different max CPC based on their conversion potential.

If we take the previous example, we could have two campaigns, one that targets the brand name 'Trek' and all the product names 'Emonda SLR 7' and another campaign that targets all other related searches.

Custom labels

Another way to run more efficient campaigns in Google Ads is to redistribute your budget to products that are selling the best, have the best margin, or just overall the most profitable.

Custom labels allow you to do this, and they can be added to your product feed.

Showcase Shopping Ads

There is also a third type of shopping ad in Google different to standard and smart shopping campaigns, and those are Showcase Shopping Ads.

Showcase Shopping Ads product an entirely different kind of ad format.

Instead of showing a single product, a Showcase Shopping Ad shows a selection of products that are available from the retailer. If someone clicks on the ad, they will then be shown the product that was related to what they searched for.

The best way to use Showcase Shopping Ads is for mobile searches on generic search terms. Continuing with the example above, a showcase shopping ad would work well if somebody searched for 'bicycles.'

Overall, you are not likely to get amazing results from Showcase Shopping Ads, but they are good for Top Of The Funnel searches and to raise brand awareness.

Bid Adjustments

Bid adjustments are tweaks you can make after conversion data stars rolling in and you are able to increase or decrease CPCs depending on a user’s characteristics.

For example, you could decrease your max CPC by 45% on mobile devices after seeing data come in that the majority of your conversions come from desktop.

You can adjust bids based on the following characters:

Devices (mobile, tablet, desktop)
Ad schedule (time of day you want your ads to be shown)
Location (city, state or country)
Audiences (demographics, gender)

Audiences

Audiences are a special type of bid adjustment and the most important one to keep track of.

If you keep track of visitors to your website and have a remarketing list, you can adjust your bids based on your user behavior.

For example, you could increase your max CPC by 80% for a visitor visited your website and go to checkout but never finished.

Product Feed Optimization

Finally, your Google Ads Campaigns are based fundamentally on the attributes you provide in your product feed.

If you product feed is set up badly, your Google Ads will not run well too.

So optimizing your product feed is imperative if you want to crush it with Google Shopping Campaigns.

The three most important aspects of your product feed include:

1. Product titles

Google matches search queries with titles. If you have the wrong keywords in your title, Google will be showing the wrong products for the wrong searches.

The word order is also important. Generally speaking, you want your most important keywords to be at the start of your title, so they don't get cut off.

2 – Product identifiers

Product identifiers are the brand, gtin or mpn numbers for your product. Getting them right will ensure your products get visibility.

If you are using the same gtin number as another seller, Google will have more information about which search quries to show your products for.

3 – Product images

Chances are, there is somebody else out there selling the same product you are selling.

To make yourself stand out, images can be a gamechanger.

Whenever possible, try to have your own unique product pictures, in as high of a quality as possible.

While it may take some extra resources and time, it can pay off in the long run, as images are shown to boost click-through rates significantly.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the essentials that are needed to get your Shopping Campaigns in Google running smoothly. In the coming weeks, Aori will be releasing our very own eCommerce tool that will automize a significant part of this work. Feel free to get in touch with us to learn more.

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