Google Shopping Campaigns may make Google Product Listing Ads easier for marketers and consumers to use, says ChannelAdvisor. The shopping campaigns are a "new way of managing PLAs [that] includes more granularity and better control over bids," writes the Morrisville, N.C.-based SaaS e-commerce solutions provider in "11 Steps for Mastering Google's New Shopping Campaigns." (Opens as a PDF)
The 13-page guide ChannelAdvisor announced on Sept. 12 provides a step-by-step way for e-commerce marketing to use the new shopping campaigns (Opens as a PDF):
1. Optimize the Feed
Optimize product data and images. It may be best to start with the most profitable items, as product attribute columns may be lengthy. (If it's not clear which products work best on PLAs, look at site analytics to find the most-purchased products.)
Product attribute columns directly match to search queries, which will now be in "groups" instead of "targets." Groups mean more granularity and, therefore, more relevant ads. "You can then organize and group your inventory into subcategories, such as brand, item ID, condition or product type and assign separate bid values to each."
As for images, ChannelAdvisor suggests marketers measure out 800 x 800 pixels and use various angles, but avoid placing multiple products in the same shot or watermarks.
2. Use Custom Labels
AdWords labels aren't required in these campaigns, but e-commerce marketers are limited to five custom labels.
3. Map the Campaign Structure
Marketers can organize inventory down to the individual product level. ChannelAdvisor says starting with a spreadsheet, building the basic structure on a pivot table, and replicating the successful parts of past PLA campaigns and on-site customer paths to purchase.
4. Build Product Groups
Set up the new campaign on the "campaign" page in AdWords, open the "Product Group Generator" template and segment, assign order to the ad groups from the drop-down menu, assign a default bid, then assign attributes and bid amounts for as many as five levels of segmentation. The guide advises that "each level of bidding overrides the bid of the previous level."
5. Test the New Campaign
Spend at least two weeks doing this.
6. Report Findings and Make Adjustments
Look at conversion rates and determine which search queries trigger the ads. Then add negative keywords and consider increasing bids on the best-performing groups.
7. Improve Performance With Benchmark Data
Through the Impression Share, Benchmark Max CPC and Benchmark CTR tools, get an idea of how well similar product types are performing. "It's important to note that benchmark data is based on similar product types and doesn't compare products at the actual SKU level," ChannelAdvisor writes. "For instance, Google can provide benchmark data for 'men's running shoes,' but it won't display data for a specific model number."
8. Use the Bid Simulator
This will help judge possible results of increasing or decreasing bids. Make sure there's enough performance data, because too few auctions means the simulator won't work. Also, product groups with item ID attributes can't yet be tested this way.
9. Apply Learnings
It's time to run the campaign.
10. Understand Campaign Prioritization
E-commerce marketers who run several campaigns may want to note that priority levels default to "low." Therefore, pick low, medium or high. "If you have a product in a campaign set to 'High,' it's guaranteed to serve from that campaign, vs. one assigned a 'Medium' or 'Low' setting," the guide says.
11. Incorporate Merchant Promotions
It's so easy to lose that searcher who moves on to find a coupon code, isn't it? The campaigns deal with that by allowing marketers to "include information within your PLAs, such as promotion codes, applicable dates and custom-promotion titles at no additional cost," the guide concludes.
Will e-commerce marketers use the new tool?
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