Maximize your Google Shopping campaigns in time for the holidays

- Andreas Reiffen

Looking to boost your Google Shopping performance in time for the holidays? Follow along with this guide to learn everything you need to know.

Maximize your Google Shopping campaigns in time for the holidays

What is Google Shopping and why should you care?

Google Shopping is another form of paid advertising for your products. They’re similar to text ads, but instead of bidding on keywords, you upload a Feed of your products and Google tries to match them to relevant searches.

You’ve probably seen them, they look like this:

Google Shopping Ads or PLAs

Google Shopping has become a majorly popular form of advertising in retail since launching a few years ago. It makes up about 56% of retail company’s ad spend – meaning it’s already more popular than text advertising in the US and UK. google-shopping-spending-already-overtaking-text-ads

Google Shopping accounts for 43% of all retailers’ Google search ad clicks and 70 percent of non-brand clicks in Q1 of 2016.pla-share

In fact, eventually, e-commerce search results pages will probably just look like this:


Why is Google Shopping growing so quickly you ask?

Well, for starters, people just like clicking on them. Which makes sense because as a shopper you get all the information you want in one ad – a picture of the item, the price, and some product info. Text ads, on the other hand, are just that, text. Who has time for all that reading?!?product-ads-are-cool

Google Shopping also performs far better on mobile than Text Ads. This is probably due to the fact that Google Shopping ads take up the majority of your mobile screen when you search for a product.


Google Shopping Updates in 2015

  • available as part of the YouTube ad offering
  • increased the size of their shopping ads on mobile
  • Shopping ads became part of the Google image search

Google Shopping Changes 2016

  • Merchant Feed Center overhaul
  • GTINs now required for all products
  • Constant experimenting with where to put Google Shopping on the results page.

These changes are important because they show the clear investment Google has made in Google Shopping. They want it to work. Most likely as a way to compete with Amazon.

Segment Google Shopping campaigns to capture high-quality shoppers

Now, we all know the key to getting more conversions is to attract those shoppers who are the closest to making a purchase decision. What they search for can give you a big indication of where they are in the buying funnel.

For example, if someone searches for “Nike Mercurial Superfly” you can be pretty certain that they know exactly what they want and are just looking for a place to get it. On the other hand, if they simply search for “Soccer Shoes”, then you can assume they’re still in the research phase and are less likely to buy.


In fact, searches that include a designer and a product name, are 2.5x more likely to convert than one that only includes a product category.

Now, you want to appear for both generic and specific queries, but you definitely don’t want to bid the same. With such different conversion rates, it’s much better to bid higher for the specific queries and lower for the generic ones.

At first glance, this doesn’t really seem possible in Google Shopping – you can’t bid on keywords after all. But, there is a way to game the Shopping AdWords system so that you can.

All you have to do is segment your shopping campaigns by the specificity of search queries. Then, use campaign priorities and negatives to segment your campaigns and control where search queries are assigned. campaign-segmentation-pt-2

Without this sort of segmentation, your CPC is difficult to control and vary. If you’re bidding the same for every type of query, raising your CPC could just get you a lot more generic queries without delivering a corresponding bump in ROI.

Speak your customer’s language and write more compelling Product Titles

Unlike traditional text ads, with Google Shopping you don’t get to decide what your ad is going to say. Google will simply create it for you based on the Product Feed you’ve uploaded. Which is why optimizing your Product Titles is so important.

One way to make them more relevant and attractive to shoppers is to include top performing search queries as part of your titles. This sort of title modification allows you to direct traffic to specific products. Plus, adding search queries to titles improves the overall traffic.


If you are going to modify your Product Titles (and you should) there a couple rules of thumb to keep in mind that will help you with the Google algorithm. The first is that words at the beginning of a title are considered the most important, so make sure they are relevant. Second, word order also matters – if someone searches for “green shoe” your title should contain those words in that order. Finally, pay attention to synonyms – if a dress could be called “party dress” or “evening dress” make sure you don’t use the same term across this product category.

At camato, we use thousands of data points from different sources to come up with the optimal title automatically. Then we display the result (including projected performance uplift) to the user.


Why you can’t win Google Shopping when you fail in pricing

It turns out, when you look at the data, that impressions and clicks in Google Shopping are very sensitive to price changes. Raise the price too much and clicks will drop off dramatically.


For all products, we tend to see an S-shaped curve, but cheap products generate traffic much earlier. The impression volume for expensive products is significantly lower than average. In addition, the average CPC is higher for products with prices above average market price – 15% higher is many cases.


Despite getting more traffic, the performance of the cheaper products is actually much more efficient. You get almost 13X the number of orders and a higher CR, meaning CPO is around 30% less. All in all, cheap products generate 280% more conversions than expensive products.


What’s more, there isn’t much of a tail. Only a small number of products drive the majority of sales. As a retailer, you need to identify these products and focus on them for account optimization.

Pricing tips

  1. Don’t overbid on expensive products – consider changing the price
  2. Discounting only a few products to bring more traffic to your site could be a killer strategy
  3. Price and bid management will be merged one day

What image testing can add to your Google Shopping campaigns

Ad copy split testing is one of the fundamentals of paid search optimization. But, while most retailers have multiple images of the same product, no one is split testing images.

The first problem is that Google doesn’t necessarily show your image. Products that are sold by multiple retailers can be aggregated in the shopping tab. So although you get a click, your product image may not have shown up – making test results tricky to trust. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to distinguish clicks from the SERP page and the Shopping tab.

The second problem is that Google doesn’t change the image immediately. Indexing a new image can take anywhere from 72 hours (if the URL has also changed) to as long as 6 weeks (if the URL remains the same). To make matters worse, during the first few hours after the image change, Google may not serve your product at all in the SERP.


A short term solution is to test two different image types across an entire product category. For example, you could test product vs model shots across all men’s sweaters.

The future of Paid Search campaign managers

Based on what is already possible, and the amount of data it produces, it is completely feasible that the responsibilities of Paid Search campaign managers will go well beyond just managing campaigns.

Your knowledge of search terms could be responsible for naming products and how to describe them. You could use Google Shopping to test price elasticities. And, with all the data on Google Shopping, you might even weigh in on merchandising decisions.


Andreas Reiffen is the founder and CEO of crealytics and data-driven online marketing strategist with his focus concentrating on online retailers.

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