On 3rd April 2014 Google announced that the clock is ticking until they automatically upgrade all Product Listing Ad campaigns into Google Shopping Campaigns. The timeframe they have outlined is August 2014.
Therefore we recommend that you make this switch manually before the end of July as otherwise Google will take the liberty of doing it for you.
Shopping campaigns were released in beta mode in October 2013 and then fully in February 2014.
There are many aspects to shopping campaigns that are consistent with product listing ads:
The ads are matched to user searches based on your product inventory data feed that you send to the Google Merchant Centre rather than being triggered by keywords that the advertiser sets.
From a shoppers perspective they look identical - the ads show an image of your product, the product name and price and there is the option to add a text field for promos that shows when the user hovers their mouse over the ad.
But there are also some unique aspects to them:
It is possible to browse your product inventory within the AdWords platform and create product groups using attributes from your data feed.
Custom labels can be used to tag products in your data feed with personalized attributes.
Even if you are a lazy advertiser and have all products together in one ad group you can see product level performance data - this is done with data segmentation by product or attribute.
There are some great aggregate competitive performance data, including the average CTRs and Max CPCs of your competitors. This will make you bid harder 😉
Create and edit with the AdWords API and bulk edit product groups at scale.
If you have not been making use of product listing ads over the past few years then you have likely seen a decline in the overall performance of your Adwords account as more and more traffic has gone to these ads due to their increased visibility in the SERPs.
For every client that we run them for we have seen very good performance in comparison to standard search advertising as users get to see the product images and prices prior to clicking so consistency between ad and landing page is by nature very good.
However, we did find, detailed in this post that with product listing ads it is very important to spend the time to split up your product inventory into category level ad groups or ideally product level ad groups.
Fortunately Google Shopping Campaigns make this process very easy to do in the Adwords interface, although for the majority of retailers it makes sense to do the work in Excel and then upload through Adwords Editor.
Best Practice Tip: Make search query reports a priority
The fantastic thing about segmenting your shopping campaign into separate ad groups for each individual product is that it allows you to run search query reports that give you search query data at a product level.
In this screenshot you can see a search query report for a shopping campaign with only one ad group called "Shopping ad group":
As you can see, it is impossible to work out which product triggered each of the search queries to happen and how each of the products performed.
For example if you sell 12 inch plant pots and 24 inch plant pots then both products are likely to get impressions and clicks for user searches such as "large plant pot" or "big plant pot"
If you have separated your shopping campaign into separate ad groups for each product then you can compare product performance for the same search terms and determine for each search term which product is best to show.
The 1st and 3rd rows in the report below show that the search term "wildlife camera" triggered 2 different products from the inventory to show. Through having the product level data (ad group column) we can compare the performance of these two products for the search term.
In the example below we need a bit more data to draw a conclusion but if over time one of them clearly has a better cost per converted click then you can add the search term as an exact match negative to the poorer performing product's ad group.
This will force the better performing product to show every time a user searches that term.
If you woud like a basic overview on how to get started with Google Shopping Campaigns then take a look at this video:
In the run up to the migration I will include some more best practice tips on getting the most out of Google Shopping Campaigns.
Thanks to Joel Chudleigh for sharing his advice and opinions in this post. Joel Chudleigh is CEO and Founder at Deep Footprints, which is a digital agency focused on PPC and SEO through a holistic approach. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.