It’s been less than 2 years since Google Shopping became a fully paid advertising platform for retail advertisers. Prior to that, retailers smart enough to submit their product feed data to Google through the Google Merchant Center were able to garner free clicks under Google Product Search. While the transition to being a fully pay-per-click model caused friction among many, those ecommerce retailers who made the move with Product Listing Ads (PLAs) saw immediate success.
Over the last 18 months, retailers have navigated the constantly evolving world of Google Shopping. But in an effort to simplify and streamline Google Shopping ad management within AdWords, Google announced a forced migration from what we know of as the “Product Listing Ad campaigns” format to the new “Google Shopping campaign” format.
This shift will not affect the consumer experience on Google Shopping. Instead, retail advertisers are encouraged to start using the new Google Shopping campaign formats in their AdWords account in order to ease the transition later this year.
Changes from Google can often cause unnecessary anxiety by retailers (remember Enhanced Campaigns?). And this most current development is no different. The move towards the streamlined Google Shopping campaign format is designed to be more advantageous for retailers using Google Shopping to drive sales.
Many things will be the same. For example, retailers will still need to obsess over the quality of their product feed data submitted through the Google Merchant Center. Poor data will evoke a Google backlash of ad disapprovals that no one wants to deal with. (Learn more about 5 Feed Fixes for Google Shopping Success)
Additionally, the inherent Google Shopping product ad strategy of granularly segmenting a product catalog is the same. Retailers will want to make sure their product catalog is segmented for profitable bidding and accurate promotional ad text.
In the new Google Shopping campaign format, a few things are changing. Most are for the good, but of course, some of the changes are only uncomfortable while we adjust to them. Let’s look at the changes that will have the most impact on ecommerce retailers.
Ad Groups are now Product Groups – For most retailers, this is just a change in terminology. Ad groups will now be called product groups within the Google Shopping campaign. In a recent Google update to this new campaign format, they lifted the limitation of product groups within the campaign. So retailers can now have as many product groups as they need depending on how they subdivide their product data.
Moreover, these product groups allow you to see your data down to the most granular level of the segmentation. This granularity allows advertisers to consolidate their management style since there is more flexibility to subdivide product grouping within one campaign than in the legacy PLA campaigns.
Benchmark Data Reporting is now Available – A huge win for retail advertisers is the ability to see category (and sometime SKU level) benchmark data directly in the campaign reporting. Having this type of information readily available makes it easier to bid competitively for your most profitable products. While this benchmark data is primarily based on category data for an industry, some more granular benchmark data points are available down to the SKU level depending on the product, search volume, and number of competitors.
Currently Google is providing this benchmark data for click-through-rate and max CPC. These columns can be seen within a new Google Shopping campaign alongside other performance metrics for the campaign (i.e. Impressions, Clicks, Click-Through-Rate, Conversions, etc.)
Custom Labels are now Limited – Custom labels are product feed attributes submitted through the Google Merchant Center that allow retailers to tell Google how they’d like to custom target their products – think, ‘Best Sellers’ or ‘High Margins’ or ‘Spring Collection’.
In the new Google Shopping campaign format, retailers are limited to Custom Labels 0-4. These 5 custom labels may cause retailers to consolidate their labeling taxonomy. But by in large, this more simplistic targeting will minimize product overlap. With a little strategic thinking, most retailers will be able to find the 5 best labels to apply to every product.
As Google moves toward the full implementation of this new campaign type, retailers are best-advised to dive in and start testing the new Google Shopping campaign. By simply launching a new Google Shopping campaign then systematically optimizing bids for improved performance, some retailers have seen revenue double by allocating more budget and better targeting to their Google Shopping campaigns.
Want to learn more about Google Shopping and other Comparison Shopping Engines? Watch this recent Retailer Web Clinic.