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

by Reese Garcia under PPC

KlientBoost has coined a new term: Single Product Ad Groups (SPAGs). For those who already know, KlientBoost is really well known for building out Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs), which are great for B2B brands. Being that most of my clients are e-commerce, the question arose: what would be the equivalent for these businesses and would it be just as effective?
 
You don’t have to live under the sea to wonder what the Krabby Patty secret formula is and why it makes Krabby Patties taste so good.
 
In fact, thousands of YouTubers have tried replicating the recipe for themselves.
 

Yeah, I started watching how to make a Krabby Patty…

Yeah, I started watching how to make a Krabby Patty…


 
And you’re probably wondering how fictional, cartoon burgers will make your Google Shopping campaigns make more money.
 
Technically, they won’t, but just like Krabby Patties, Google Shopping campaigns also have a secret formula that make them a lot more juicy, and the results tend to look like this:
 
 
Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Just kidding, only mo’ money.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Just kidding, only mo’ money.


 
The secret sauces here are SPAGs, aka “single product ad groups.” SPAGs are the Google Shopping equivalent of SKAGs. They make it easy for you to know which of your products are triggering what searches, and how much money your individual products are making.
 
For example, if you own a premier restaurant like the Krusty Krab, you definitely know how much each item on your menu earns, and how much it costs to serve each item.
 
 
This guy definitely knows his margins.

This guy definitely knows his margins. – image source


 
Similarly, SPAGs are the best way to ensure your campaigns are getting relevant traffic, that you aren’t bidding more than what a product is actually worth, and that you’re focused on products that make money.
 
Let’s deconstruct this secret formula.
 

What Single Product Ad Groups Are, and Why You Should Care?

In a nutshell, SPAGs are a way to gain more control and better performance from your Shopping campaigns.
 
Beneath that, SPAGs are exactly what they sound like: they’re an ad group within your Shopping campaign that contains only one product.
 
By taking this approach with your Shopping campaigns, you can ensure your products are showing for relevant searches and that 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.”
 

They made it to your store, but this probably isn’t what you expected…

They made it to your store, but this probably isn’t what you expected… – image source


 
You probably don’t need an Al Capone documentary, an Al Pacino movie, or a Spongebob image to tell you that mobs aren’t exactly desirable, but mobs in Google Shopping actually play out pretty similarly to the ones that happen in real life: you end up with less money, and your things in disarray. The disarray within your Shopping campaigns is a mess of search terms whose profitability you can’t tie to a single product, and potentially low-performing products that overspend.
 
Because mob invasion isn’t ideal, let’s look at an example of a SPAG.
 
The two strongest identifiers for a product you sell are going to be the name of the product and the item ID. So if one of the items in your catalog is a Krabby Patty and its item ID is KP1, the name of your ad group should look like KP1 – Krabby Patty. At a glance, this makes it easy to know exactly what the product is.
 
 
It should come out looking just like this.

It should come out looking just like this.


 
On top of that, SPAGs make it easy to see what search terms are being attracted by individual products. Because Shopping campaigns don’t afford you the control of keywords and the search terms you pay for are determined by the quality of data in your product feed, you may even be surprised by the search terms some of your products bring in and discover some opportunities to improve your product titles.
 
When you get a clear picture of the search terms each of your products trigger, the revenue associated with those search terms by product, and you weed out irrelevant terms and optimize your product data around your Shopping campaign’s most profitable search terms, you start to overcome the most difficult aspect of Shopping campaigns: the fact that your can’t target keywords.
 

The One Exception: When You Shouldn’t Rely Solely On SPAGs

There’s an exception to almost everything and SPAGs are, well, no exception.
 
If you sell 1 – 100 products, SPAGs will make sure you get the clarity you need on how your products are performing without getting too unwieldy.
 
If you sell over 100 products, however, and especially if you manage over a thousand SKUs, the detailed organization of SPAGs can quickly become a nightmare.
 

Analysis paralysis is, in fact, real.

Analysis paralysis is, in fact, real. – image source


 
Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but there’s a law of diminishing returns, because your goal isn’t actually to serve an equal amount of traffic to every product. Your goal is to break up the mobs, discover which of your products sell best, and use them to drive sales.
 
But this doesn’t means SPAGs aren’t for you.
 
If you manage thousands of SKUs, the best returns on your time and energy put into Google Shopping should be focused on identifying top-performers, and making sure that high-spending products with low returns (aka “mob products”) don’t run away with your budgets and profits.
 
Here’s an example of what a top-performer looks like:
 
 
The highlighted item has 10x higher ROAS than the top-spending product, and made more revenue than every product that outspent it combined.

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 the products, the one that spent the least actually out-earned the four highest-spending products combined.
 
And even if you manage thousands of SKUs, you’ll 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 campaign where they’ll have their own dedicated budget.
 
So let’s see what the setup looks like.
 

How to Create SPAGs

Now that you know there’s value in SPAGs whether you have one product or a thousand, let’s dig into the setup.
 
First, you’ll want to go to the Products tab in AdWords. Here, you’ll find a list of all your products that you can easily copy and paste into Excel to convert into SPAGs.
 

You can find the Products tab by clicking into an existing Shopping campaign.

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 will make up your ad group name. So once you paste your data into a spreadsheet, you can format it to look like this:
 
 
You can delete the other data for brand, condition, and price -- you won’t need those to make SPAGs. :)

You can delete the other data for brand, condition, and price — you won’t need those to make SPAGs. 🙂


 
Once you have your Item ID and Title data, the next step is to convert them into something AdWords Editor will recognize.
 
To do that, create column headers for “Campaign,” “Ad Group,” and “Max CPC”. When you do that, your product data should look like this:
 
 
This is the shell for your ad group structure.

This is the shell for your ad group structure.


 
If you’re not familiar with Excel and worried about manually adding the Item ID and Title into one cell, don’t worry. There’s a secret formula for that too. Here’s what it looks like:
 
 
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 apply this formula once.


 
For my formula in the ad group column, I selected the Item ID first, used an ampersand to join with a dash surrounded by two spaces (because it makes the ad group name easier to read), and used one more ampersand to include the product title in the ad group name. No matter how many ad groups you have, you only have to do this formula once, and you’ll be able to drag it throughout your spreadsheet to get as many neatly organized ad group names as you want.
 
 
You’ll have these formulas down in no time.

You’ll have these formulas down in no time. – image source


 
To turn your spreadsheet data into a campaign and set of ad groups, open up AdWords Editor, go to the ad groups pane, click “Make Multiple Changes,” and paste your data from the clipboard:
 
 
Be sure to check “My data includes columns for campaigns…

Be sure to check “My data includes columns for campaigns…” Otherwise, you’ll end up with duplicates.


 
Before you upload your ad groups, go to the ads pane in AdWords Editor, scroll down to Shopping ads, and add a Shopping ad to all of the ad groups in your campaign:
 
 
There’s no copy or anything involved here, but you won’t get any traffic without this step.

There’s no copy or anything involved here, but you won’t get any traffic without this step.


 
Now that you’re ready to upload your campaign and ad groups to AdWords, the last step is to add your product groups. These will serve as your actual targeting.
 
When you create your first product group, AdWords will give you an “All Products” group by default. This is the exact opposite of what you want and has mob rule written all over it. To turn this into a SPAG, you’ll want to click the + sign, subdivide by Item ID, and select the product designated in your ad group name.
 
Here’s a gif walkthrough of what this looks like:
 
SPAG how-to gif

You’re welcome 🙂


 
Secret hint: 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 gif, you’ll notice that even when we add the item ID, there’s an “everything else” subcategory that gets added. You’ll want to make sure to exclude this with every SPAG you make. Otherwise, you’ll end up at square one: mob country.
 
So you’ve set up your first SPAG. You might be thinking, “wow, all those steps for setting up SPAGs?” Yep. Setting up SPAGs can be time consuming.
 
 
No one said taking down the mob was gonna be easy.

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


 
Depending on how many SPAGs you want to set up, you can actually set up a bulk sheet for that too, which would look like this:
 
 
You’ll need three of every ad group name to account for the way AdWords Editor processes product groups.

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


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

Why SPAGs Are Worth It

Remember the example we looked at earlier of the five highest-spending products and the one outlier whose revenue and ROAS outweighed the rest? If you’re wondering how that whole situation played out, here’s what happened.
 

Growth in revenue and ROAS...

Growth in revenue and ROAS…


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

To Wrap Up Single Product Ad Groups…

SPAGs take time to create and they aren’t the easy way out–but once you do the heavy lifting, you’ll quickly start finding weaknesses in your Shopping strategy that you hadn’t noticed before. When you stop focusing on costly products and start focusing on profitable ones, you’ll go from campaigns that look like this:
 

All products, one ad group?

All products, one ad group? – image source


 
To campaigns that look like this:
 
 
Strong AF

Strong AF – image source

Klientboost Blog Author Reese Garcia

Reese Garcia

Director of eCommerce PPC

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