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Google Shopping Campaigns:
The Complete Setup Guide For 2018

by Reese Garcia under PPC

If you’re an ecommerce brand and are not running Google shopping campaigns, this blog post is for you. If you sell products online, you should know that Google shopping has the potential to generate massive sales for you. In fact, for most retailers, Google shopping tends to be the bread and butter of their PPC efforts with shopping ads driving 75% of clicks for all retailers in 2017. And investment in Google shopping keeps growing year-over-year.
 
In this guide, we’re going to cover:

  1. What exactly Google Shopping is

  2. How to set up a Google Merchant Center account

  3. How to optimize your product feed and what to focus on

  4. How to structure your campaigns and ad groups

  5. Advanced remarketing strategies

 
The first half of this post is going to take you deep into the highly technical, but mandatory setup that Google requires you to comply with. There are lots of rules and requirements to follow–but without this setup, you’ll never get to serve a single shopping ad.
 

Yes, it’s a necessary evil, but let’s get through it together.

Yes, it’s a necessary evil, but let’s get through it together. – image source


 
If your Google Merchant Center is already running like a well-oiled machine, you can skip straight to the action, beginning with product feed optimization (because, trust me, you won’t want to miss out on what a well-optimized product title can do for you).
 
So, let’s get started.
 

What Is Google Shopping?

Google shopping ads (sometimes called Product Listing Ads or PLAs for short) are available to advertisers in these countries who have physical products for sale. The best part? You can show what your products look like and show searchers the price before they even hit your website:
 

So much more info than text ads, right?

So much more info than text ads, right?


 
Because shopping ads convey so much more information to the searcher before they visit your site than text ads do, the clicks they provide tend to be from visitors with stronger intent to buy than normal text ads. In other words, you end up with visitors who already know what your product looks like and how much it costs.
 
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that retailers have such an investment in Google shopping and that Google shopping spend saw 20 more percentage points of growth than text ads in Q1 of 2017.
 
So, that’s exciting, but how do you serve these ads? Google shopping has zero keyword targeting capabilities.
 
 
No keyword targeting?

No keyword targeting? – GIF source


 
Your Google shopping campaigns are instead powered by a product feed that’s housed within the Google Merchant Center. So, yes, you’ll need to set up yet another account with Google. But that’s ok, because that’s what we’re covering in the next section.
 

How to Setup Your Google Merchant Center Account

Your Google Merchant Center is the powerhouse for all of your product data. On the home page, you’ll find an overview of the general health of approved and disapproved products, paid clicks, and general updates:
 

Don’t worry, this will get more familiar with time.

Don’t worry, this will get more familiar with time.


 
To set up your account, the first thing you’ll need to do is update your business information. This includes basic things like how you want the name of your business to be displayed, your website, physical address, and account users.
 

Claim and Verify Your Website URL

Next, you’ll need to claim and verify your website URL. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • HTML file upload
  • HTML tag
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager

 
Each of these will involve adding some form of code to your website. Personally, I prefer going the Google Tag Manager route–because this method involves the least amount of extra code, and you can then use Google Tag Manager to organize and consolidate other pieces of code on your site.
 
To place that code on your website, you’ll first have to open a Google Tag Manager account. Once your account is open, you’ll go to the Admin tab, then to “Install Google Tag Manager”.
 

It’s almost as simple as clicking “Install”...almost.

It’s almost as simple as clicking “Install”…almost.


 
Next, you’ll see two pieces of code that look like this:
 
 
Just place these on your website, and you’ll be set.

Just place these on your website, and you’ll be set.


 

Meet Merchant Center Guidelines

Now that you have verified and claimed your website URL, you’ll need to be sure that your website’s compliant with these rules before you can serve shopping ads:

  • You must have secure checkout (https in the address bar while someone is getting ready to give you their payment info.).
  • People must be able to access your shopping cart from anywhere in the world. Even if you only sell products in the U.S. or Canada, people in Denmark have to be able to get to your checkout. Don’t worry, you can still decline their payment method.
  • Your website and product data both have to be in the official language of the country for which you’re serving ads.
  • You need accurate contact info. as well as instructions on how billing and returns work with your business.

 

Set Your Tax and Shipping Settings

Last, you’ll enter your tax and shipping settings in Google Merchant Center:
 

You have the option to set flat tax rate or destination-specific taxes.

You have the option to set flat tax rate or destination-specific taxes.


 
Your shipping settings are also pretty straightforward. Because you may have offers like “Free Shipping on Orders $50,” you can create rules for different kinds of orders.
 
First, you can set average transit time for a given location as well as minimum order value:
 
 
Standard shipping? Probably going to be 3 to 5 business days.

Standard shipping? Probably going to be 3 to 5 business days.


 
Then, you can select the products this criteria applies to. Google Merchant Center gives you pretty granular control over your shipping rules. It allows you to group and select products that have a certain label, and then adjusting shipping cost by product price, weight, destination, and number of items:
 
 
If you have some particularly heavy items that aren’t reasonable to ship free, you’ll definitely want to create a label for them.

If you have some particularly heavy items that aren’t reasonable to ship free, you’ll definitely want to create a label for them.


 
With your website URL claimed and verified, your website up to the Merchant Center guidelines, and your tax and shipping settings taken care of, you’re finally ready to get to the heart of all shopping ads: your product feed.
 

Your Google Product Feed: Creation and Connection

Hang in there, because we’re finally getting to the fun part. Before you can start making exciting, data-driven adjustments to your product feed and campaigns, you first need to create a product that meets all of Google’s requirements. This is because Google uses your product feed to match your ads to people’s search queries.
 

Create Your Product Feed & Meet Google’s Requirements

Google’s requirements for your product feed will depend on the kinds of products you sell, but there are a few universal items that Google requires for every feed:

  • ID – a unique identifier for all of your products
  • Title – your product’s name
  • Description – a description of your product
  • Link – the link to the exact product detail page (not product category page & not home page)
  • Image link – a link to a clear image of the product you’re selling
  • Availability – whether your product is in stock, out of stock, or on pre-order
  • Price
  • Shipping cost
  • Tax (U.S. only)
  • Condition – whether your product is new, used, or refurbished
  • Adult – whether or not you are selling an adult product

 

These are the looks you’d get if searchers ever had to see ads served from incomplete product feeds.

These are the looks you’d get if searchers ever had to see ads served from incomplete product feeds. – image source


 
Next, if you sell clothes, or anything other than books, music, and movies, Google has some additional fields that you’ll need to include in your feed.
 
These are as follows:

  • Your product’s brand name
  • GTIN – if your product has an assigned Global Trade Item Number assigned by the original manufacturer
  • MPN – if your new product does not have a manufacturer assigned GTIN (one exception is if you’re selling custom or handmade goods. In this case, you wouldn’t have an MPN or GTIN).
  • Multipack – if you’re selling a group of individual products as a single unit, like a 6-pack of scented candles
  • Age group – required for clothing items
  • Required – required for clothing items
  • Gender – required for clothing items and any other gender-specific products
  • Size – required for clothing items
  • Pattern – if relevant for distinguishing different products in a set of variants
  • Material – if relevant for distinguishing different products in a set of variants
  • Item group ID – required for products that are variants of each other, like different sizes of the same kind of shoe or different colors of a basic t-shirt

 
Now that you know the items that are going to be required in your product feed, the last thing you need to do is ensure that your product data has a way of making it to your AdWords account.
 

Upload and Submit Your Product Feed

Google gives you a few ways you can upload products to your Google Merchant Center account. The option you choose will most likely depend on the number of products you sell, how often your inventory is updated, and IT resources available to you.
 
The simplest option that Google gives you is to register a Google sheet on Google Merchant Center. You can set this up by going to your Merchant Center account, going to the products menu, and adding a new feed:
 

You now have the option to add primary feeds and supplemental feeds.

You now have the option to add primary feeds and supplemental feeds.


 
After you click the plus sign, you’ll be asked to specify your target country and destination:
 
 
So far, so good.

So far, so good.


 
Next, you’ll have to specify what kind of feed you want to create. One of those options is to use a Google sheet.
 
 
These other options are more advanced, but useful if you have a high number of products.

These other options are more advanced, but useful if you have a high number of products.


 
Last, you get the option of whether you want the Merchant Center to hook you up with a product template or select an existing Google sheet. You can also choose to create an upload schedule, so that your product data can be automatically refreshed:
 
 
Free template? Yes, please.

Free template? Yes, please.


 
I recommend checking the option to create an upload schedule, because Google requires your full product feed to be submitted at least every 30 days, even if your inventory doesn’t change that often. If your inventory changes a lot then Google allows you to upload your full feed a max of four times a day.
 
If you’ve been following these steps, you should now be in front of a cool Google sheet that has columns for all the product data fields you may need. For an easier time filling in all this data, you can download a CSV from your online shopping cart platform. You can also use feed rules.
 

Feed Rules: Meet Merchant Center Requirements Sooner

The Google Merchant Center also gives you an extra option to help speed up your way to a complete, accurate product feed: feed rules. To get to these, go to the products menu, select feeds, click on an active feed, and then go to Rules.
 

Here, you can create rules based off of any attribute you use in your feed.

Here, you can create rules based off of any attribute you use in your feed.


 
You can use feed rules to designate these kinds of attributes:

  • Constants (applying a static value to a group of items)
  • Mapping and assigning existing attributes in your feed
  • Including attributes from a supplemental feed

 
So, let’s go over a few ways you can use these different ways of applying feed rules to actually improve your product feed and Google Shopping campaigns.
 
One way you can use feed rules is to fill in missing data requirements in your product feed. For example, if I were missing a required attribute like “brand,” I could go to “Create Rule” and I could then set this as a static value if my store only carries one brand–or I could map to another attribute in the dropdown:
 

If you click the field in “Set to,” you’ll bring up a dropdown of all the processed attributes in your feed.

If you click the field in “Set to,” you’ll bring up a dropdown of all the processed attributes in your feed.


 
In addition to using feed rules to add missing data requirements, you can use them to:

  • Create custom data columns for more granular campaign segmentation
  • Assign common products together based on an existing attribute in your feed
  • Populate the promotion ID field with a static value

 
Now that we’ve covered the basics of setting up your Google Merchant Center account and submitting your product feed, let’s talk about how to take your product data from good to great with some product feed optimization strategies.
 

How to Optimize Your Product Feed

We’ve covered a lot of product feed requirements, but what if I told you there was just one piece of data that stands above all the rest?
 

Google doesn’t treat all product data equally?!

Google doesn’t treat all product data equally?! – image source


 
In a series of product feed optimizations that involved major changes to to product descriptions, product categories, and product titles, the former two showed almost no difference in overall traffic volume whether the attributes were improved for relevance or completely destroyed, like having a description of a baseball cap for a party dress.
 
Improving relevance of the product title, on the other hand, led to a nearly 10x improvement in traffic volume.
 
 
This happened as a result of including the highest-converting search query at the beginning of the product title.

This happened as a result of including the highest-converting search query at the beginning of the product title. – image source


 
If you want to make optimizations in your product feed that are going to have a strong impact on your overall traffic, start with the product title, and don’t worry too much about optimizing areas that aren’t going to have as big a return on your time such as product description and product category.
 
Now that you know how important the product title is, let’s talk about how to make ‘em good.
 

How to Write Winning Product Titles

There are a lot of recommended ways of writing product titles like <brand> <category> <color> or <brand> <category> <model number>, but these may not apply to you.
 
The first part of writing search-relevant product titles is knowing what kind of buyer you have (consumer or professional) and whether your brand is well-known in your space. This matters because Google reads your product titles from left to right. This means that Google assigns more importance to words that are closer to the beginning of your product title.
 

How Your Brand Affects Your Product Titles

If your brand is newer or not relevant to searchers when looking for your products (for example, if you’re a reseller) then you don’t want to include brand as the first element of your product title, because this is going to limit the potential impressions you could receive by pushing the type of product you’re selling further toward the end of the title.
 
For example, if I just opened up a new store called Boost Athletics (just opened meaning that it’s not yet well known to the general public) that sold shoes from brands like Nike and Adidas, it wouldn’t make sense to write my product titles as Boost Athletics Nike Mens Air Max Running Shoes, because “Boost Athletics” doesn’t get a lot of search volume and it’s de-prioritizing everything else in the product title that does. I hate to do it–but, in this case,  it makes more sense to move “Boost Athletics” to the end of the product title.
 

I just want Boost Athletics to be famous.

I just want Boost Athletics to be famous. – image source


 

Why Your Products Will Affect Your Product Title Structures

You’re going to write your product titles differently if you’re selling hand dryers than if you’re selling sweaters.
 
If you sell hand dryers for restaurants and other stores, you’re likely to have at least two major kinds of buyers:

  • Small business owners purchasing for themselves
  • Architecture/construction firms that take specs from a planner and search for the products by SKU number

 
You can probably guess that these two types of searchers will end up having pretty different queries. The former might be looking for “hand dryers for restaurants” while the latter could be looking for “dyson ab-20 hand dryer,” because the purchase sheet listed brand and model number. This latter search is also likely to be much more profitable, because asking for an exact model number shows strong intent.
 
With this in mind, if you sell products like devices or appliances where model numbers are relevant (and tend to be used by precise / higher value buyers), you don’t want your model number to be dangling at the end of your product title.
 
I’d go with a format like <brand> <model number / SKU> <product type> <size> <material> <color>. For example, you could use Maytag MDB8959SFZ Built‑In Dishwasher – 24″ Stainless Steel, Energy Star Qualified.
 
If you’re a clothing retailer, on the other hand, your most common buyer is going to be consumers. And no one shops for clothes using SKU numbers.
 

I can’t wait to show up wearing item #7476727.

I can’t wait to show up wearing item #7476727. – image source


 
Let’s use J. Crew sweaters as our example. If you were overseeing a sweaters campaign, you might see search queries like:

  • Sweaters
  • Mens striped sweaters
  • J. Crew lambswool crewneck sweater

 
Each of those searches has wildly different levels of intent. The person searching for “sweaters” hasn’t decided what they want yet and may not want to spend $85 on a sweater. The person searching for “mens striped sweaters” is more relevant, but still comparison shopping. But the person searching for “J. Crew lambswool crewneck sweater” practically has their wallet out.
 

And you’re right about to sell this bad boy.

And you’re right about to sell this bad boy.


 
To make sure your product titles are relevant to these kinds of searchers, you’re going to want to be as descriptive and accurate as possible. In this situation, I’d use a product title format like <brand> <gender> <product type> <material> <color> <style>. For example, I’d write this title as “J. Crew Men’s Crewneck Sweater in Lambswool, Navy Stripe”.
 
At this point, you know some basic principles and guidelines for writing your product titles based on the products you sell and the people who buy them. But product titles aren’t a “set it and forget it” feed attribute. Let’s talk about how to use data to make improvements.
 

Improve Your Product Titles With Search Query Data

There’s a science to writing better product titles and it’s called semantic query optimization.
 

Semantic query optimization? That sounds way too complicated.

Semantic query optimization? That sounds way too complicated. – image source


 
“Semantic query optimization” sounds abstract, but the concept is actually pretty simple: review your search query reports for words and phrases (other than your own brand) that lead to sales for a particular product the most often. Then, adapt your product title to include those words / phrases. And remember: the closer a word is to the beginning of the product title, the more heavily Google will prioritize it.
 
For example, if we took the same J. Crew sweater from above, and saw that a search query like “mens professor sweater” was generating consistent, profitable sales, we might consider rewriting our original product title of “J. Crew Men’s Crewneck Sweater in Lambswool, Navy Stripe” to “J. Crew Men’s Professor Sweater in Lambswool, Navy Stripe”.
 
To get the most out of semantic query optimization, review your search query data constantly, record the baseline metrics for your original title, and compare this to your revised product title. Taking this approach to semantic query optimization will ensure that you’re aware of what results your changes are causing from impressions all the way to revenue.
 

Create Granular Google Shopping Campaign Structures

Have you ever seen a Google Shopping campaign that just had one ad group containing all products? I have, and it’s crazy how inefficient (wasted spend, missed conversions) that is.
 

Bidding equally on all of your products looks just like this.

Bidding equally on all of your products looks just like this. – GIF source


 
Use a campaign structure that’s suited to make the most of your best-selling products and search queries. Your approach will vary based on the kind and quantity of products you sell, but let’s look at a few of the most kick-ass shopping structures you can use.
 

SPAGs: The Most Granular Shopping Structure

Have you ever poured over a search query report only to realize that you have no idea which search queries are selling which products? It’s normal to have that frustration if all of your products are in one ad group — and this makes it difficult to improve your bidding, which makes it difficult to improve your ROAS.
 
Enter the SPAG: the single-product ad group. SPAGs are the shopping equivalent of SKAGs, and are exactly what they sound like: they’re ad groups that contain exactly one product. This means that you’ll easily be able to maximize impression share for your best-selling products and make negative keyword choices at the product level. In other words, you get the most bang for your buck.
 

You tend to respond like this when people ask about your SPAG’d out Google Shopping campaign.

You tend to respond like this when people ask about your SPAG’d out Google Shopping campaign. – image source


 
Now, if you’re a more experienced PPC’er, you may be thinking “this will make things way too hard to manage.” I’ll be honest: SPAGs do take time to set up and manage. And for that reason, I don’t recommend SPAGs to retailers who sell thousands of products, because you’ll drown in the data.
 
On the other hand, if you sell fewer than 100 products, you owe it to yourself to get as granular as possible.
 
To set up your first SPAG, start off by setting up your first shopping campaign (if you haven’t already), by clicking +Campaign on the campaigns tab of the AdWords interface, then selecting Shopping campaign.
 
When you add a new shopping campaign, you’ll need to select which Merchant account it’s associated with and your target country of sale.
 
 
Below that, you’ll also select your location targeting options, budget, and bidding strategy.

Below that, you’ll also select your location targeting options, budget, and bidding strategy.


 
Next, you’ll go to edit your first ad group. The default option AdWords gives you is to start with is one ad group that contains all of your products, and you’ll want to use this option. This may sound counter-intuitive, because it’s one of the Google Shopping pitfalls I mentioned earlier–but it’s okay in this instance, because we won’t actually be going that route.
 
 
Google thinks we’re going to have all products with one bid, but we’re actually about to SPAG it.

Google thinks we’re going to have all products with one bid, but we’re actually about to SPAG it.


 
Next, you’ll land on the ad group interface, and you’ll see your All Products Ad Group. To turn this into a SPAG, you’ll want to click on the ‘+’ sign next to All Products:
 
 
We’ll eventually set a real bid, too. :)

We’ll eventually set a real bid, too. 🙂


 
When you click on the ‘+’ sign , you’ll get a menu of different kinds of ways you can subdivide your product group, like Category, Brand, Item ID, and others. To create a true SPAG, you’ll want to subdivide by Item ID, because this is the one unique identifier across all of your products — aka, the best way to put the “S” in SPAG.
 
 
Those other attributes are useful for other kinds of structure--but for now, we’re all about SPAG talk.

Those other attributes are useful for other kinds of structure–but for now, we’re all about SPAG talk.


 
After you click Item ID, you’ll see a list of your available products. Choose just one product, save it, and you’re almost done. You’ll see a new row for the one product you selected, along with “Everything else.” You have to be careful here, because that contains every other product except for the one you subdivided. So, if you don’t exclude this, you could still end up having all your products in one ad group.
 
To exclude everything else, select the bidding option, and then set it to “Excluded”:
 
 
With this set to “Excluded”, you now have a true SPAG.

With this set to “Excluded,” you now have a true SPAG.


 
And you’ve just created your first SPAG. It’s easier to create these in bulk using Excel and AdWords Editor–but if you’ve been running a shopping campaign with all products in one ad group for a while, the easiest way to start transitioning is by creating SPAGs for your best-selling products and managing the bids for those more precisely.
 
Let’s take it to the next level with a campaign-level strategy.
 

How to Set Up a Query-Level Bidding Shopping Structure

Remember how shopping campaigns don’t give you any keywords to bid on? The mechanics of shopping campaigns put you in a position where you’re partially reliant on Google to find the most relevant searches for your products, and you don’t get the same level of control as you’d have in a search campaign. Until the invention of query-level bidding, that is.
 

This next song is a shoutout to query-level bidding.

This next song is a shoutout to query-level bidding. – image source


 
Query-level bidding lets you segment your traffic between generic, branded, and product-level just like you would in a search campaign. This is made possible by using shopping campaign priorities, shared negative keyword lists, and shared budgets. And, as the name implies, you no longer have to bid the same amount for a search term like “shoes” versus “Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 9 Shoes AQ4832”.
 
Before we get into all the details of how to set this up, here’s a quick overview of how to arrange each element:
 
 
There’s an inverse relationship between your campaign priorities and your bids.

There’s an inverse relationship between your campaign priorities and your bids.


 
You’re probably wondering: why would the generic campaign have the highest priority when branded and SKU have the highest ROAS potential? The answer is twofold. The first reason to prioritize the generic campaign is to cast an overall wider net with your traffic. The second reason is because you’ll be using the shared negative keyword lists to funnel branded and SKU-level searches into the appropriate campaigns.
 
As for the shared budget, the reason you’ll be using that instead of individual budgets for each campaign is because this forces your three campaigns to serve in the same auctions. That allows your negative keyword lists to work their magic and direct your traffic to the appropriate campaign.
 
Now let’s dig into the setup.
 
First, you’ll set up just one new shopping campaign, like when we set up the first SPAG. You can create SPAGs throughout this first campaign, or you can take a different approach with your ad group structure if it makes more sense for you. The main thing you’ll want to do here is build out your full ad group structure, because we’re going to copy and paste this campaign in AdWords Editor.
 
Once your first campaign is built, you’ll also want to go into the Settings tab, then go to Shopping Settings (advanced) and set this campaign’s priority to High. Because this is your generic campaign, you’ll also want your product groups in this campaign to have the lowest bids.
 
 
Here’s where to find the priority settings.

Here’s where to find the priority settings.


 
Next, you’re going to duplicate this campaign in AdWords Editor. If you don’t have Editor yet, you can download it here. Then, you’ll get your most recent changes in Editor, so that everything is up-to-date. Getting your next two campaigns is as simple as selecting your first one, pressing Cmd-C (Ctrl-C if you’re on Windows) and pressing Cmd-V twice. And bam, you now have a total of three shopping campaigns.
 
 
Make sure you get your settings done correctly in your first campaign and maintain the same settings throughout all three campaigns.

Make sure you get your settings done correctly in your first campaign and maintain the same settings throughout all three campaigns.


 
Two quick things to do before moving on to your bids. First, set your branded campaign to medium priority and set your SKU campaign to low priority. And update your naming structure to fit each campaign, of course.
 
The last thing you’ll want to do before posting your campaigns is adjusting your bids across each campaign. Your bids by each campaign should look something like this:

  • Generic campaign: $1.00 bids
  • Branded campaign: $2.50 bids
  • SKU campaign: $5.00 bids

 
Your actual bids will vary, especially according to the kinds of products you sell. The most important thing to make sure is that there’s at least a 50% difference in your bids by each campaign and that you keep your bid changes consistent between products. Otherwise, this could result in the wrong ad being triggered.
 
You’re almost done. The last two things you have to do before you’re ready to start running these campaigns is set up your shared negative keyword lists and shared budget.
 
To set up your negative keyword lists, you’ll go to the Shared Library and create these three lists:

  • Universal negatives: a catchall list to apply to add irrelevant terms across all campaigns
  • Branded negatives: this should include just your brand term and a couple misspellings. Apply only to your Generic campaign
  • SKU negatives: this should include all of your product numbers or specific product names. This should be applied to your Generic and Branded campaigns, so that your product level searches go to the SKU campaign.

 
Here’s an example of what these should look like when the lists are all set up:
 

I like the negative keyword list names to match their campaign counterparts for consistency.

I like the negative keyword list names to match their campaign counterparts for consistency.


 
And, finally: the shared budget, This should probably be the easiest part to set up. If you’re still in the shared library, you’ll just navigate to options up in the bottom left menu of the AdWords interface to go to budgets. Then, give the budget a name, apply it to your shopping campaigns, set the amount, and save it.
 
 
The last step of your setup.

The last step of your setup.


 
And, just like that, you’ve set up your first trio of query-level bidding shopping campaigns. This type of setup is a long-term strategy and you’re likely to see better results with time. Some things to watch out for in your first few days of running this kind of campaign:

  • Be on the watch for any variations of brand or product-level searches appearing in the wrong campaign. Add those to your negative lists as soon as you spot them.
  • Watch out for campaigns serving for the wrong kinds of searches. This usually means a negative list was applied incorrectly or there’s too small of a difference in your product group bids between campaigns.
  • This is a given, but don’t forget to add totally irrelevant terms to your universal campaign.

 
And just like that, you’re ready to take off with an awesome shopping structure. To truly learn how awesome this structure can be, you’ll want to spend at least 30-60 days fine-tuning it.
 
After a full 30 days of running this structure for a client compared to their previous shopping structure, here are the results:

  • Revenue improved by 98%
  • Transactions increased 56%
  • ROAS increased 123%

 

With time, query-level bidding can add a lot of value.

With time, query-level bidding can add a lot of value.


 

Shopping Campaigns by Device

Does your performance tend to vary sharply by device? One more structure you can use to manage your shopping campaigns is to segment them between tablet, desktop, and mobile. You most likely wouldn’t want to combine this with query-level bidding–because, at a minimum of nine shopping campaigns, you’d most likely end up with campaign data that’s too thin to be significant (unless you’re a huge retailer). You could, however, combine this with SPAGs.
 
This strategy will offer you the most value if:

  • You want to control budgets by device
  • You want an easier way to measure cross-device attribution
  • You want to measure impression share by device
  • You want to set individual bid modifiers by device

 
To set this up, you’ll start off by creating one campaign that has your desired ad group structure and campaign-level settings. If you’re setting up your desktop campaign first, you’ll want to set your mobile and tablet bids to -100%, like this:
 

I’m doing this in AdWords Editor, but you can do this in the interface too.

I’m doing this in AdWords Editor, but you can do this in the interface too.


 
Next, you’ll copy the campaign you’ve just created and paste it twice. Your next campaign will have desktop and tablet set to -100%, followed by another with desktop and mobile set to -100%. Be sure to update your naming conventions appropriately, and you now have shopping campaigns segmented by device. Pretty simple, right?
 

RLSA for Shopping Campaigns

You may already know that RLSA can help you maximize your conversions on the Search Network by letting you bid more aggressively for your highest intent audiences. Have you done the same for your shopping campaigns? There are two main approaches you can take to be smarter and more aggressive in the shopping results at the same time:

  • Bid only audiences applied to all campaigns at the ad group-level.
  • Target and bid audiences applied to an individual campaign.

 
Let’s break down the benefits of each strategy.
 

Bid Only Audiences Across All Campaigns

Bid only audiences are a straightforward way to boost all of your shopping campaigns with the power of audience data you’ve collected. To set these up, you’ll want to create and structure these in Google Analytics, so that you can create your audiences from micro conversions (e.g. page views, time on site) and macro conversions (e.g. purchases).
 
To create your remarketing audiences in Google Analytics, you’ll go into the Admin tab, then audience definitions. Here’s an example of some audiences based off of micro and macro conversions:
 

Use attributes like engagement, checkout, and actual purchases.

Use attributes like engagement, checkout, and actual purchases.


 
Typically, you’ll find that people who move further through the funnel tend to have a better rate of converting. For example, someone who’s a shopping cart abandoner is still in the funnel. To get this person to convert while they’re still considering the purchase, you’d want to use an audience with a short duration, like 7 days, and use a high bid modifier to be sure that shopper doesn’t forget about you.
 
Someone who’s just been browsing, on the other hand, may have just been window shopping. To improve your chances of converting that kind of visitor, you’ll want to use a longer audience duration, because this person may still be in more of a research than consideration stage. Because this person isn’t worth as much as a shopping cart abandoner (or even a returning customer, depending on your business), you’ll also want to use a lower bid modifier.
 
The easiest way to add these audiences to all of your ad groups at once is through AdWords Editor. Once you’re in AdWords Editor, go to the bottom left pane, navigate to keywords and targeting, and then select Audiences.
 
 
Use ad group audiences for more granular bid management. Then, apply to all ad groups in your campaign(s).

Use ad group audiences for more granular bid management. Then, apply to all ad groups in your campaign(s).


 
Next, you’ll see a list of all the possible audiences you can add. You’ll notice that there are columns for “no. of users” and “no. of search users.” Because shopping ads are still served to people on the Search Network, you’ll want to be sure that your audience has cookied at least 1000 search users. Otherwise, your audience won’t be able to trigger any ads.
 
 
I usually like to sort by “no. of search users,” so that I don’t end up adding audiences that are too small.

I usually like to sort by “no. of search users,” so that I don’t end up adding audiences that are too small.


 
Now, you’ll want to pay attention to this one trick to make sure you don’t totally constrict the traffic of your “bid only” RLSA shopping campaign. You’ll notice these “flexible reach” options at the bottom of the Editor screen when you’ve applied your audiences.
 
 
Edit your ad group flexible reach, unless you’re lazy and went the campaign-level route. *sigh*

Edit your ad group flexible reach, unless you’re lazy and went the campaign-level route. *sigh*


 
The flexible reach settings are what determine whether you target audiences in addition to your original targeting or whether they narrow your original targeting. Think of “Bid only” as an extra layer in addition to your original targeting.
 
And here’s the tricky part: in the latest version of AdWords Editor (12.1.2 at the time of this writing) Google has changed the name the names around this from “Target and bid” and “Bid only” to “Targeting” and “Observations.”
 
 
It’s not called “Target and bid” anymore? - image source

It’s not called “Target and bid” anymore? – image source


 
So, here’s a quick overview of the terminology and how they affect your campaigns:
 
 
Makes a more sense now, right? 

Makes a more sense now, right?


 
If you’re using an earlier version of AdWords Editor, you’ll want to select “Bid only”, and if you’re using a newer version, you’ll want to select “Observations”. This setup will allow you to target your audiences in addition to new visitors, which is ideal if you don’t want to focus on unique targeting options.
 

Target and Bid on an Individual Campaign

But what if you want to be more aggressive with upper funnel searches? Even if you sold shoes, such a basic search like “shoes” would probably be in your universal exclusion list. On the other hand, if you could guarantee that that search would only be shown to people who’ve been to your website, you know that those people are already more qualified than someone who’s never heard of you. That’s where “Target and bid” (or just “Targeting” these days) comes in.
 
To set this up, you’ll need to have a unique campaign, so that you have one to focus only on audience searches while the other(s) bring in new visitors. To distinguish this one from your other campaigns, you could append it with “RLSA.” You’ll also want to be sure you still add your audiences at the ad group level like in the previous example, so that you have more granular control over each of your audiences.
 
Because this campaign is focused exclusively on previous visitors, don’t be afraid to allow broader searches than normal. This is your chance to remind to remind potential customers about you and convert them.
 

Wrap Up on Google Shopping Campaigns

By this point, you should be feeling some serious power when it comes to shopping campaigns.
 

No one man (or woman) should have all this shopping.

No one man (or woman) should have all this shopping. – image source


 
You’ve learned how to create a product feed from scratch, and the many requirements Google asks of you in order to get your first shopping campaigns up and running. You also know that when Google connects products with searches, the product title is a major key to finding relevant people. And to granulate the intent behind those searches, you can use strategies like SPAGs, query-level bidding, or campaigns by device.
 
Now that you’re about to complete your Google Shopping graduation, remember these tips to keep your campaigns on an upward trajectory:

  • Analyze your products on an individual level to see which ones are most profitable and which ones aren’t.
  • Don’t set and forget and shopping structure, especially query-level bidding.
  • Don’t be the same on all of your remarketing audiences — your bids and bid modifiers should relate in some way to how much purchase intent the audience has.

 
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you tried one of these strategies or if you have one that I didn’t mention.
 
And, if you’re still wondering, yes, this blog was inspired by arguably one of the best shoppers of all time: Kanye West.
 

PPC Management
That Continues To Perform

Klientboost Blog Author Reese Garcia

Reese Garcia

Senior Account Manager

  • Hi, thanks for great guide! I’ve one question, you’ve ben using Generic, Brand And SKU campaigns. I’m using similar structure but based on one campaign and different ad groups. What’s the difference?

    • Reese

      Hey, Tommy! I prefer setting up query-level bidding campaigns at the campaign-level for a couple reasons.

      The biggest reason is because running this structure at the campaign-level lets you take advantage of Shopping campaign priorities. This combined with the shared negative lists is what gives you the most precise control over your search queries.

      The second reason reason is because when you move query control to the campaign-level, you open up a new layer of segmentation at the ad group-level, like SPAGs or anything else that makes sense. This is a huge advantage that can help you get more control over your ad group-level negatives and bids.

      I also just prefer using shared negative lists at the campaign-level to organize my Brand and SKU negatives ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      Hope this helps!

      • So I’ve got some to do 😉
        Thanks for quick answer and sharing your knowledge!

  • Hi, one more question, are you using eCPC in this campaigns or manual CPC?

    • Reese

      I usually prefer Manual CPC because it offers more control, but if you get a significant amount of conversion data (100+ within 30 days) feel free to try out eCPC and other bidding strategies, like target ROAS. Sometimes these end up performing better 🙂

      • ROAS will work with segmentation by SKU, BRAND, GENERIC shown in this article?

        • Reese

          It’s worth a shot if you have the volume, but – as with anything – your mileage will vary 🙂

  • henry

    Hi

    Ive been following your SKAGs method all year, and have around 2000 skags…

    Now i have set up shopping – but i am struggling to understand the above methodology.

    My shopping campaign was set up whilst on a call to google shopping team, and they have created 1 campaing, 1 ad group, and then 6 product groups, representing the 6 categories of product i sell.

    I have followed your steps and pressed the + sign, split out by product ID, selected one product. This produced the new product row & the “everything else row”. But i expanded this product into the only adgroup i have. I need advise as how to move this into a new adgroup.

    To clarify – how does someone with a running campaing reorganise using this approach. Can someone supply a step by step to move a product into a new ad group if all are currently present in one adgroup. I will use adwords editor to do this reorganisation.

    Thanks

    • Reese

      Hey Henry,

      This is a good question! At this time, AdWords Editor doesn’t have functionality for you to bulk upload product groups. You can, however, bulk upload the ad groups for your SPAGs through Editor.

      To upload your product groups, you have two options:
      1) add product groups one at a time through the AdWords interface
      2) bulk create your product groups using a Google Sheet and an AdWords script that you can find here: https://developers.google.com/adwords/scripts/docs/solutions/bulk-shopping-ad-group-creator

      To help you prioritize which products to break out into SPAGs, you can go to the dimensions tab and sort by spend & conversions. Hope this helps! 🙂

      • henry

        Hi thanks for the tip with the script. My campaign is one month old & i have 1 campaing, 1 ad group, and then 6 product groups, representing the 6 categories of product i sell. Will i loose the history/positions i have on my products skus if i move them into separate ad groups? thanks

        • Reese

          If you’re looking to see performance by item ID to get data for individual SKUs, you’ll still be able to see that in the Dimensions tab – creating new product groups won’t remove any of that data 🙂

          When you add your new SPAG, however, you’re technically creating a new product group and ad group, so your new product group won’t carry over the same data from its original location. One advantage, though, is this allows you to clearly measure the difference in performance from how a particular product performed when it was combined with other products vs its performance as a SPAG.

          Hope this helps!

          • henry

            Hi, ok so ive set up the three campaigns & applied the shared budgets, negative lists & priority as you mention.

            1. As we copy/pasted the canpaigns, i now have the same products in 3 campaigns. Is this correct? I guess this is why we use priorities.

            2. To no create SPAGs – i do it 3 times, so each adgroup appeara in each campaign, maintaining the “clone”?

            3. I dont have any “sku” traffic. All my stuff is white label so no one knows the skus but me. What should i do with sku campaign?

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