Understanding Google Shopping Campaigns

April 2, 2014

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

In recent weeks, Google officially unveiled its much-anticipated interface change to Product Listing Ads called Google Shopping campaigns.  And just today Google announced that as of late August 2014, everyone will be required to upgrade to Shopping campaigns.

Google logoWhile the upgrades to the interface are significant, Shopping campaigns should help streamline how you set-up, manage and bid on your product inventory.  So, if you’re already using PLAs to promote your inventory, breathe a sigh of relief.  These changes should help save you time and arm you with powerful insights that will ultimately improve ROI.  And, if you’re a retailer who has been thinking about trying Google Shopping for the first time, it’s now easier than ever to get started.

So what changed?

When Google set out to enhance the overall PLA experience, it’s apparent that they focused their efforts on three key areas of improvement:

  1. Improving campaign management

  2. Expanding reporting capabilities

  3. Arming users with competitive landscape data

Your campaign objectives and scale of operations will ultimately determine which improvements prove to be of most value.  But even the smallest of retailers should find the new interface helpful. Here is a quick look at some of the biggest improvements.


Under the former PLA structure, your inventory was sorted into similar categories called product targets.  Google then matched the data feed information from these product targets with the search terms people entered to best determine which ads displayed and at what cost-per-click (CPC).  However, users weren’t able to further segment product targets to maximise individual product performances.  With Shopping campaigns, you now have complete access to your entire inventory within AdWords. You no longer have to reference your data feed in Merchant centre.  You also can organise and group your inventory into subcategories, such as Brand, Item ID, Condition or Product Type and assign separate bidding values to each.  If a specific product group is underperforming, or is just out of season, you can choose to temporarily exclude it without affecting similar product groups.  The level of granularity is completely up to you.

Google Shopping campaigns

Image Source: Google

New Reporting Capabilities

Google Shopping campaigns has also incorporated this segmented approach into its campaign reporting. You can now view campaign performance at the subcategory level.  So, depending on your business needs, you can pull specific metrics on a brand, product type or even a product ID.  In fact, Google has given access to so many levels of new information that the reporting process could easily become time intensive. A best practice would be to use this functionality to monitor product groups with unique features like seasonality, clearance or high-end pricing.

Competitive Insight

One of the most common questions from advertisers using the former PLA structure was “How does my campaign compare to those of my competitors?” Google has responded to these users with a handful of new tools that not only identify where advertisers currently stand in the market, but also highlight areas of potential growth.

Google SHopping Campaigns competitive

Image Source: Google

First, Shopping campaigns gives you access to benchmark data to help establish the maximum expected CPC and click-through rate (CTR) data for individual product groups.  No longer do retailers have to guess and check their bidding strategy.  The benchmarking data provides clarity into where budgets need adjusting.

Another helpful tool is the Impression Share metric.  This helpful tool essentially tracks your share of voice among available impressions. Obviously, this information is critical in determining areas where you can potentially separate product ads from those of your competitors.

Finally, the new Shopping campaigns bid simulator allows you to experiment with your bidding strategy by providing estimated campaign results at different bid levels.  This new simulator should save valuable time by establishing performance expectations at a higher level.

Find Out More

Channeladvisor-apple-monitor-smallWe’ll be hosting a webinar with Google to educate retailers on Google Shopping campaigns and how retailers should transition.  Sign up today to be notified when the webinar is available.

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Blog post by Greg Ives, Product Marketing Manager, Digital Marketing