As an online advertiser who works closely with several Product Listing Ad campaigns, I’m very confident that the largest pain point advertiser’s face is gaining insight or access to their client’s feed. Looks like Google has listened to the masses and rolled out a new way to manage traditional Product Listing Ad campaigns. The new and improved Product Listing Ad campaigns, dubbed Google Shopping campaigns, give advertisers additional insight into feed data, product attributes, and competitive metrics, in an attempt to streamline some of the complexity of managing traditional Product Listing Ad campaigns. So what functionality and insight do Google Shopping Campaigns give advertisers, and how do they differ from the way we currently manage traditional Product Listing campaigns?
Insight into Feed Data
This is the game changer. For a lot of advertisers the feed is very much a black box, making management and optimizations nearly impossible. Google Shopping campaigns introduced a new feature called the Products Tab which allows advertisers the ability to view feed data directly within the Adwords UI. Having the feed readily available is incredibly helpful when creating custom labels and grouping products together. The custom labels you create are essentially the “label” attribute you’re familiar with from traditional Product Listing Ad management. Another major improvement, advertisers are able to breakdown category and even individual product level performance data from within the UI. Having feed insight and product performance data will help advertiser’s optimize their accounts based on meaningful data, and break out better performing groups or products with ease (which pre-Shopping, was a difficult task).
Competitive metrics have always been a bit of a mystery for advertisers managing traditional Product Listing Ad campaigns. With Google Shopping campaigns advertisers will be able to add in an estimated CPC, estimated CTR, and an Impression Share column to benchmark their metrics against competitors, and gain additional insight into how they stack up against other retailers with similar product sets. I’d take these metrics with a grain of salt and continue to focus on what works for your individual account, but it’s still an improvement and interesting data to have at your disposal.
Choose your Product Labels Carefully
Like most Betas (or any change, really) that roll out from Google there is always an adjustment period. Remember Enhanced Campaigns? If you’re running a sophisticated Product Listing Ad account, this is going to completely change the way you approach your account structure. With Shopping Campaigns advertisers create groups as a subset of an “All Products” target, meaning the initial groups you create will be very important. All groups created after your initial grouping, need to be a subset of the group before. Confusing? Yes, I know. Advertisers still have the ability to create custom labels similar to traditional Product Listing Ad campaigns but you’re only allowed to create a handful, which has more advanced advertisers up in arms.
So what’s the verdict? I’m not totally sure there is one yet. With every improvement Google made, there’s a new limitation. Additional insight into feed data and competitive metrics will be helpful, but restrictions on custom labels take away advertiser control (especially for more advanced and complex accounts). Important to note, advertisers have the option to continue to run their traditional Product Listing Ad campaigns or run Google Shopping campaigns, but running the two simultaneously is not recommended. I imagine the option will not always be the case, so if you’re seeing killer performance from the former, it might be worth waiting for Google to make additional improvements, as this just rolled out of Beta.