Zach Mandelblatt
By Zach Mandelblatt | SEM | July 28, 2014

Shopping Campaign Setup & Strategy

Ever since Google released “Shopping Campaigns” last October, AdWords advertisers have been able to control bidding for their products much more effectively.  Prior to October 2013, Adwords users could only advertise their products using “Product Listing Ads”, which did the same thing as Shopping Campaigns but provided way less versatility and control.  In fact, Google feels that Product Listing Ads are so defunct that they are discontinuing them in late August, forcing those still running PLAs to tearfully retire these old dinosaurs.  Even if your PLA campaign was providing such a fantastic ROI that you don’t want it to go away, fear not: with proper management, Shopping Campaigns should give you the ability to achieve an even better ROI!  Here’s a quick how-to on setting up a shopping campaign properly.

Step One: Creating the Campaign

Creating a Shopping campaign is much easier than creating PLAs.   Google has made it one of the 4 campaign set-up options:

Shopping Campaign
Make sure you choose the right Merchant identifier if you have multiple!  I find that nearly all of the default campaign settings are fine, with the one exception being that Google will display your ads in both the United States AND Canada if you don’t tell it to do otherwise.  If you are in the U.S. and don’t  have a good reason to advertise in Canada (like concrete data proving you convert well there, or you can’t spend your target budget without Canadian impressions), I suggest staying in your own backyard.  The same goes for those of you in Canada thinking about advertising in the U.S.

Step Two: Breaking Up Your Products

This is where Shopping Campaigns provide a lot more utility than PLA campaigns.  With the old Product Listing Ad Campaigns, you had to manually break the products up into categories in the “Auto Target” section of the campaign.  The process was cumbersome and needlessly time consuming. You couldn’t see your ROI on a product-to-product or group-of-products basis unless you went through this long ordeal.  With Shopping Campaigns, Google has simplified and streamlined the process of separating the products in your feeds.   Go into your new Shopping campaign, and click on “All Products” in the Product groups tab.  You’ll be presented with the following screen, where you’ll choose how you wish to subdivide your products:

Choosing the subcategories
Your product feed already contained a lot of information that Google now uses to help divide your products into useful groups.  For advertisers with 30 or fewer products in their feed, I suggest dividing by “Item ID”, and then breaking each product out individually.  This will allow you to see exactly how much you are spending on each product, and, provided you have conversion tracking properly set up, show you your ROI by product.

If you have more than 30 products, you may find it necessary to break up your campaigns by categories.  AdWords gives you the option to break up the campaigns by Brand, so if that makes sense for your products, you won’t need to do any additional set-up to meaningfully break up your campaigns.  If you have a wide variety of different products from the same Brand, you will have to use “Custom labels” to give each product a new attribute.  Google provides some nice instructions for seting up Custom labels here (just scroll down to the bottom and look for “Custom Label Attributes for Shopping Campaigns”).  Give similar products the same custom labels; for example, if you sell 5 dozen different sneakers and 5 dozen different dress shoes, give the sneakers a custom label of “sneakers” and the dress shoes a custom label of “dress shoes”.  Once these labels have made it into your product feed, you’ll see those new attributes when you select “custom_label_0” and you’ll be able to subdivide accordingly.

You can then further divide those subdivisions within your new product group.  For example, if you gave those 5 dozen sneakers a second set of custom labels, you could break them up by cost, profit margin, color, or whatever else you fancy.

Step Three: Adjust Bids for your Products or Product Groups accordingly

Now that you have your products separated into useful product groups, data will start to accumulate for each individual product/product group.  Unfortunately, you can’t retroactively retrieve prior Shopping Campaign or Product Listing Ad data on a product-to-product basis, which is why it is so important to break these up.  If it turns out that your products in the “sneakers” group are providing a 10:1 return on spend, while the “dress shoes” group is a big loser, then you’ll be able to increase the “sneakers” products’ bids accordingly (and pause the “dress shoes” campaign).    Follow the same guidelines you would use to change bids for keywords that perform well or poorly in your Search campaigns.

Was there an important aspect of setting up Shopping campaigns that I missed?  Do you have an ongoing management tip unique to Shopping Campaigns you want to share?  Leave it in the comments below!

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