Getting the most out of Google Shopping

Luke Stanford

As Google Shopping continues to become more of a focus for retailers and the depth and capabilities of the product continue to expand, it is more important now than ever that advertisers are maximising their campaign spend. I will be focusing specifically on Google Shopping as even though Bing Shopping is becoming much more significant, it does not quite yet have the same capabilities as Google’s offering. I’ll be taking you through some easy optimisations, helping you to ensure that you are getting the most from your Google Shopping campaigns.

Ensuring Your Budgets Are Channelled Correctly

The first thing to consider when creating your activity is what priority you’ll give the campaign. Google Shopping has three priority options; High, Medium and Low. The main reason for priorities are for when the same products are in multiple Google Shopping campaigns, these priorities then determine the bid for any product that the campaigns share.

In the example above I’ve laid out a traditional Google Shopping structure; all products have been filtered into three different ‘Category 1’ Google Shopping campaigns, which in turn have also been filtered into two ‘Category 2’ campaigns. Whilst both ‘Category 1’ and ‘Category 2’ campaigns would be live, it is important to prioritise where the product bid is taken from.

In this example it should be ‘Category 2’ campaigns that have their priority set to high, so that the bid is chosen from this campaign rather than the top level category. By doing this, budgets will be channelled correctly through the campaigns as the higher priority campaigns will participate in the auction before lower ranked campaigns, allowing advertisers to gather more insight into how individual product groups are performing.

Use Smart Bidding or Bid Strategies to automate your bid adjustments

Bid adjustments and particularly device bid adjustments can have a significant impact on the performance of your Google Shopping activity. An excellent way of optimising your bid adjustments is through the use of Bid Strategies or Smart Bidding tools. These tools effectively automate bids and bid adjustments ahead of the auction and use machine learning to adjust these bids towards a pre-set conversion goal.

In order to achieve the most with Google Shopping Smart Bidding there are a number of processes to put in place in order to maximise performance:

  • Select the Conversion Goal most relevant to your KPIs. This may seem like an obvious one, but it is important to determine beforehand, the business goals you’re hoping to achieve with the implementation of this campaign and smart bidding strategy
  • Use a realistic goal for your campaign bid strategy. If a conversion goal is unrealistic then it may be detrimental to your activity as it could over/under-inflate bids, leading to a loss of campaign coverage and skewing towards specific, high performing products. Google best practice recommends that a conversion goal should be 10-15% higher than historical performance data
  • Sub-divide your product groups down to an item ID level so that each individual product can have a bespoke bid applied to it

Add Custom Labels to the feed

The addition of custom labels to your feed can really help to improve performance in your Google Shopping activity. Their incorporation will add another dimension to how you can subdivide products within campaigns as well as generating additional insights for the business. Google give advertisers up to six custom labels to implement within their feed, in terms of recommendations from my own experience, the most impactful custom labels have been:

Exclude poor performing Search Terms and Products 

Excluding search terms is one of the easiest ways to optimise your shopping activity and can also have the biggest impact on performance. In the same way that you would run a search query report for Text Ad activity, it is fundamental that search terms are analysed in Google Shopping Performance.

Depending on your KPIs you would look to exclude certain product terms from your activity based on poor performance. Traditionally, for an E-Commerce account, poorer performing search terms are related to an inability to generate revenue/conversions. This can be tracked down to a search term level. If conversions are not the focus, then you can also analyse on-site metrics.

On AdWords, it is not possible for on-site metrics to be tracked at a search term level however this data can be found on Analytics which can be further used as an optimisation tool.

In tandem with search term analysis it is also fundamental to explore excluding poor performing products from activity. Another reason to subdivide products down to an item ID level is that it will allow advertisers to exclude at a product level whilst preserving top performing products within the same category. In general, you would look to exclude in a similar way to a search term report, ensuring that smart bids are optimising the top performing products.

So in conclusion, all of these factors will help to ensure that advertisers are maximising efficiencies in Google Shopping. Making the most of data within the feed and utilising a number of Google tools will enable campaigns to reach their full potential whilst giving advertisers valuable insights into product performance which they can use in other areas of their businesses.