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

by Reese Garcia under PPC

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Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new content and links.
Original Publication Date: August 27, 2018

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

But most of my clients are eCommerce vendors, not B2B businesses. So I started to wonder — what would be the SKAGs equivalent for these businesses, and would it be just as effective?

And to answer my question, I turned to Krabby Patties.

See, you don’t have to live in a pineapple under the sea like Spongebob Squarepants to be curious about the secret Krabby Patty formula, or 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…

 
Wondering how fictional cartoon burgers will help your Google Shopping campaigns make more money?

Technically, they won’t. (Sorry.) But just like Krabby Patties, Google Shopping campaigns also have a secret formula that makes them a lot more juicy, with results like this:
 

Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Kidding! Just mo’ money.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Kidding! Just mo’ money.

 

Which is why KlientBoost has coined a new term: Single Product Ad Groups (SPAGs).
 

Introducing SPAGs

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.

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 serve.
 

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 dive into this secret formula.
 

What Are Single Product Ad Groups?

SPAGs are fairly simple. They’re ad groups within your Shopping campaign that only contain one product.

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

With this approach, you can ensure your products appear in 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

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

But it’s important to note that Google Shopping mobs play out in pretty much the same way as real life — you’re left with nothing but 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 identifiers for your products are the name and item ID.

Let’s say one of the items in your catalog is a Krabby Patty, for example. If the item ID is KP1, your ad group should be named “KP1 – Krabby Patty” — or something very close to that. This makes it easy to know exactly what the product is at a glance.
 

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.
 

Benefits of SPAGs

First, it’s important to note that Google Shopping campaigns don’t provide control at the keyword level in the same way that Google does on other platforms.

Further, 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.

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

Creating SPAGs can provide a clearer picture of the search terms each of your products trigger and the revenue associated with those search terms by product. Further, they’ll help you weed out irrelevant terms.

By optimizing 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 you can’t target keywords in Google Shopping.
 

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 provide significant clarity on your product performance without getting too unwieldy.

If you sell hundreds of products, however, or manage over a thousand SKUs, the logistics of creating and maintaining SPAGs can sound like 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 is a law of diminishing returns, because generating an equal amount of traffic for every product isn’t your goal — or, at least, it shouldn’t be. Your goal is to break up the mobs, discover which of your products sell best, and use them to drive sales.

And creating SPAGs can make 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:
 

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 products, the one that spent the least actually out-earned the other four — 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 unique campaign with their own dedicated budget.

So let’s see what the setup looks like.
 

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.

First, you’ll want to go to the Products tab in Google Ads. You’ll find a list of all your products, which you’ll need to copy and paste into Excel.
 

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 Google Ads 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.

 

Generating SPAGs Names in Excel

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.

For my formula in the ad group column, I select the Item ID first, followed by an ampersand. Next, I add a dash, surrounded by quote marks and two spaces. (The spaces make the ad group name easier to read.) One more ampersand includes the product title in the ad group name.

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.

 
No matter how many ad groups you have, you only have to enter this formula once. You can drag it throughout your spreadsheet to create and organize as many 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

 

Exporting Your SPAGs

The next step is turning your spreadsheet data into a campaign and set of ad groups.

Open up Google Ads 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 Google Ads 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 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 targeting.

When you create your first product group, Google Ads 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 designated product in your ad group name.

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 process, you’ll notice that even when we add the item ID, an “everything else” subcategory appears. You’ll want to make sure to 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.

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. The bulk sheet looks like this:
 

You’ll need three of every ad group name to account for the way Google Ads Editor processes 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, you can create product groups and exclude the “Everything else” category in one upload. This will shave 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.
 

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. You can 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, and they won’t transform your eCommerce 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.

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

 
And when you’re this swole, you can eat all the Krabby Patties you want. 😉

Klientboost Blog Author Reese Garcia

Reese Garcia

Director of eCommerce PPC

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