Shopping Campaigns vs. Product Listing Ads

If you’re an advertiser who sells products online, it is important that your products are seen by the people who are searching for them. But if you have a large product catalog, it can be nearly impossible to manage traditional keyword lists and ads for each of those products, while keeping up with changing inventory levels. Google Shopping Campaigns are a great way for you to advertise your available products easily and at scale.

Shopping Campaigns, formerly called Product Listing Ads or PLAs, are the ads that show on Google search results pages and include a product image, seller’s name, price, and a promotional message. When searchers click on a product ad, they are taken straight to the product page on your site so they can start the checkout process. Coupled with seeing the price and picture of the product before clicking, Conversion Rates and ROI for Shopping Campaigns tend to be very high. However, success is very much dependent on how well you setup your product feed.

If you use PLAs, or have in the past, then you are already pretty familiar with Shopping Campaigns. However there are several new features that will help improve your campaign’s performance. The first thing you’ll notice after setting up your Shopping Campaign, is that you no longer have to be in the Merchant Center to browse your products. You can now do so directly in AdWords, although you will still have to submit your product feed to the Merchant Center as you’ve done in the past. Note that some fields, such as “adwords_labels” are no longer valid in Shopping Campaigns.

Within the AdWords interface you will be able to quickly and easily manage product groups, as well as individual products. Shopping Campaigns utilize the product categorization used in your product feed, allowing you to subdivide up to five times. These are straight-forward categories that allow for easy segmentation and optimization. You can also create up to five unique segmentations for your products. This feature is great for breaking out items in ways other than by product type, such as high-demand, on sale, or seasonal products, allowing you to customize bids for them more granularly.

Reporting in Shopping Campaigns has also been upgraded. A wonderful new feature that Google added is Benchmark Data, the ability to see the average CTR and CPC for competitors in your field. This will ultimately allow you to make more informed decisions in your bidding strategy. When looking at reporting for your Shopping Campaign, it is important to monitor not only how well your ads are performing, but also to determine if they are being limited. A fast and easy way to do this is by using the Impression Share metric, a new feature which represents the percentage of time your ad is showing, based on your targeting settings, bids, and quality score. You can further break this metric down be seeing the share you are losing based on your bids, and based on your quality scores. Looking at this data allows you to easily navigate your way to an effective and efficient AdWords campaign, and was not previously available with standard Product Listing Ads.

One thing that hasn’t changed with the upgrade to Shopping Campaigns, is that Google targets your product ads to search queries based on the content you provide in your feed (i.e., product name, description, category, size, color, etc). Since you aren’t bidding for specific keywords, it is imperative that the products in your feed are consistently optimized with descriptive, keyword-rich content. Then, use the search term reporting within AdWords to understand which queries are triggering your product ads. If you find wasteful, non-converting queries, exclude them as negative keywords just like you would with PLAs or other search campaigns.

Now that you are aware of the benefits of Google’s Shopping Campaigns, it is time to get started. But before you jump headfirst into a Shopping Campaign, make sure you have your product feed up-to-date, optimized, and posting updates to Google daily. For help getting started, please contact us. Happy advertising!