Single Product Ad Groups (SPAGs): Transform Your Google Shopping Campaigns

Reese Garcia
Reese Garcia
Director of eCommerce

If you’ve read our blog before, you probably already know that KlientBoost is all about Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) for B2B brands (Business to Business) investing in pay-per-click ads.

But most of my clients are eCommerce vendors in the B2C space (Business to Consumer). 

So what’s the SKAGs equivalent for B2C vendors, I wondered? And would that SKAGs equivalent be just as effective?

The answer is Single Product Ad Groups (SPAGs)—another term coined by KlientBoost (SKAGs is our baby, too).

To demonstrate SPAGs, I’m going to turn to Sponge Bob Square Pants. Specifically, the secret Krabby Patty formula.

Like Krabby Patties, Google Shopping campaigns also have a secret formula that makes them juicier, with results like this:

single product ad groups shopping campaigns
Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Kidding! Just mo’ money – source

Introducing SPAGs

SPAGs are the Google Shopping equivalent of SKAGs. It’s a special sauce that makes it easy for you to know what products trigger what searches, and how much money your individual products make.

This probably sounds familiar if you’ve run a brick-and-mortar business. If you own a premier restaurant like the Krusty Krab, for example, you definitely know how much each item on your menu earns and how much it costs to make it (your margin).

Similarly, SPAGs are the best way to get your campaigns relevant traffic and streamline your bidding strategy. SPAGs make sure you don’t bid more than what a product is actually worth, and that you focus on products that make money.

Let’s dive into this secret optimization formula.

What are Single Product Ad Groups?

In your Shopping campaign, SPAGs are ad groups that contain one product.

More importantly, SPAGs are a way to gain more control and coax better performance from your shopping campaigns.

With this approach, your products (in the Google Merchant Center) appear in relevant search queries and the bids associated with each of your products make sense.

If your Shopping campaigns aren’t organized by relevant themes and profitability, this leads to a chaotic situation I call “The Mob Effect.” 

You don’t need an Al Capone documentary, an Al Pacino movie, or even a note from Spongebob to know that mobs aren’t exactly a good thing.

But it’s important to note that Google Shopping mobs play out like real-life mobs—you’re left with a big, expensive mess.

The mess in your Shopping campaigns is a smorgasbord of search terms whose profitability you can’t tie to a single product. The profitable terms are mixed in with potentially low-performing products that drain your PPC budget.

Clearly, mob invasion isn’t ideal. To avoid the Mob Effect, let’s look at an example of a SPAG.

Naming your SPAGs

The two strongest product-level identifiers are

  • item ID (product ID)
  • name 

Say one of the items in your catalog is a Krabby Patty. 

Item ID: KP1

Your ad group should be named:

 KP1 – Krabby Patty

Keep it simple; know what the product is at a glance.

single product ad groups krabby patty
Ad Group name should look like this

On top of that, SPAGs make it easy to see what specific products attract search terms.

Benefits of SPAGs

Google Shopping ad campaigns don’t provide control at the keyword level. Not the same way that Google does on other platforms.

The search terms you pay for are determined by the quality of data in your product feed. You might be surprised by the search terms your products bring in.

You might discover opportunities to improve your product titles or other elements in your campaign.

Creating SPAGs makes it easy to see the search terms each of your products trigger and the revenue associated with those search terms by product. 

SPAGs helps you weed out irrelevant terms.

When you optimize your product data around your shopping campaign’s most profitable search terms, you overcome the most difficult part of Shopping campaigns: the fact that you can’t target keywords in Google Shopping.

The one exception: when you shouldn’t rely solely on SPAGs

Blanket statement: SPAGs are awesome and you should rely on them. 

🚨👉 But there’s one exception.👈🚨

If you sell 1-100 products, SPAGs will provide significant clarity on your product performance without getting too unwieldy.

But if you sell hundreds of products, or manage over a thousand SKUs, creating and maintaining SPAGs can become a logistical nightmare.

🚧 Analysis paralysis is real. 🚧

Ok, that’s dramatic. 🥸

But there is a law of diminishing returns. And generating an equal amount of traffic for every product isn’t your goal.

Your goal is to break up the mobs, discover which of your products sell best, and use them to drive sales.

Creating SPAGs makes that a lot easier for you.

If you manage thousands of SKUs, your Google Shopping-related time and energy is precious. In this case, the best returns will come from identifying top performers and keeping high-spending products with low returns (aka “mob products”) from running away with your budget and profits.

Here’s an example of what a top performer looks like:

single product ad groups higher roas
The highlighted item has 10x higher ROAS than the top-spending product, and made more revenue than every product that outspent it combined

Of the five highest-spending products, the one that spent the least actually out-earned the other four—combined.

If you manage thousands of SKUs, you’ll still want to protect outliers with higher revenue and return on ad spend from the mob.

The best way to do that is to stash those top performers in a unique campaign with their own dedicated budget. 🥳

Mic drop, right? 

Let’s do that next.

How to create SPAGs

Now that we’ve established the value of SPAGs for one eCommerce product or a thousand, let’s talk about how to create your first Single Product Ad Group.

Google Ads

Go to the Products tab in Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords). You’ll find a list of all your products, which you’ll need to copy and paste into Excel.

single product ad groups products tab
You can find the Products tab by clicking into an existing Shopping campaign

For the sake of SPAGs, the two most relevant columns are Item ID and Title because these columns make up your ad group name. 

Spreadsheet

When you paste your data into a spreadsheet, format it to look like this:

single product ad groups spreadsheet
Delete the other data for brand, condition, and price—you won’t need those to make SPAGs. 🙂

Now convert your Item ID and Title data into something the Google Ads Editor will recognize.

To do that, create these column headers:

  • Campaign
  • Ad Group
  • Max CPC

Now your product data should look like this:

single product ad groups shell spreadsheet for ad group level campaign structure
This is the shell for your ad group level campaign structure

Generating SPAG names in Excel

You don’t have to manually add the Item ID and Title into one cell in Excel.  There’s a secret formula for that too. 

Here’s what the formula looks like when you’re done: =E2&“ – ”&F2

WTF, right?

Let’s walk through how to make this formula.

  • Go to the ad group column
  • select the Item ID first E2
  • Add an ampersand &
  • add a quote, a space, a dash, another space, and another quote (The spaces make the ad group name easier to read.) “ – ”
  • Add one more ampersand & followed by F2 to include the product title in the ad group name

Here’s what it looks like:

single product ad groups apply formula
No matter how many ad groups you have, you only have to apply this formula once.

No matter how many ad groups you have, you only have to enter this formula once. 

Drag it throughout your spreadsheet to create and organize as many ad group names as you want.

Now do something celebratory because of all the time you saved by reading this post.

Export your SPAGs

Now turn your spreadsheet data into a campaign with sets of ad groups.

  1. Open Google Ads Editor
  2. Go to the Ad Groups pane
  3. Click “Make Multiple Changes” 
  4. Paste your data from the clipboard.
single product ad groups export data
Be sure to check My data includes columns for campaigns and/or ad groups. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with duplicates 

Before you upload your ad groups:

  • Go to the ads pane in Google Ads Editor
  • Scroll down to Shopping ads
  • Add a Shopping ad to all of the ad groups in your campaign
single product ad groups add shopping ad
You won’t get any traffic without this step

Now you’re ready to upload your campaign and ad groups to Google Ads. The last step is to add your product groups. These will serve as your actual targets.

When you create your first product group, Google Ads defaults to “All Products.” This is the exact opposite of what you want and has mob rule written all over it.

To turn this into a SPAG, click the + sign

Subdivide by Item ID and select the designated product in your ad group name.

Happiness: Because you included the Item ID in your ad group name, you can copy it while you’re in the interface, bulk add it in the item ID selector, and instantly add the correct product.

At the end of the process, you’ll notice that even when we add the item ID, an “everything else” subcategory appears. 

Aarrghh.

Sadness. 

You’ll exclude this in every SPAG you make. Otherwise, you’ll end up back at square one: mob country.

Next steps for SPAGs

So you’ve set up your first SPAG, and you might be thinking, “That was a lot of steps for setting up SPAGs.” Yeppers. Setting up SPAGs is one of those time-consuming digital marketing strategies. 

No one said taking down the mob was gonna be easy.

Depending on how many SPAGs you want to set up, you can set up a bulk sheet for that too. 

The bulk sheet looks like this:

single product ad groups product groups
You’ll need three of every ad group name to account for the way Google Ads Editor processes product groups.

Using this format, when you create product groups you can exclude the “Everything else” product category in one upload—hooray—and shave considerable time off your SPAG creation.

Why SPAGs are worth it

Remember the example we looked at earlier, with five highest-spending products and one outlier whose revenue and ROAS outweighed the rest?

If you’re wondering how that whole situation played out, here’s what happened.

single product ad groups growth in revenue and roas
Growth in revenue and ROAS…
single product ad groups decrease in cost per conversion
…and decrease in cost per conversion.

This is what it looks like when you break out of the Mob Effect. 

You stop wasting money on products that don’t sell well on Google Shopping and use your top performers to drive growth.

Wrapping up Single Product Ad Groups

SPAGs take time to create. As a savvy marketer, that’s the price you pay. And they won’t transform your eCommerce store sales overnight. But once you do the heavy lifting, you’ll quickly start finding weaknesses in your shopping strategy that you hadn’t noticed before.

You’ll pick out the profitable products, make bid adjustments, monitor the metrics, and transform your Google Shopping campaigns for the better.

Chapter 4:
Google Shopping Ads

What You’ll Learn: Get more people to buy from your store, increase your average order value, all while spending less on acquiring new customers.

Chapter 5:
YouTube Ads

What You’ll Learn: Unlock the power of video advertising to drive conversions in all different parts of the funnel that ultimately lead to more sales for you.

Chapter 6:
Additional Google Ad Types

What You’ll Learn: Discover the different ad types you can use across different Google Ads networks to drive the results you want.

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