Google Shopping Campaigns is a paid advertising solution by Adwords that allows you to bid on product based searches, unlike a typical campaign where you are bidding on keywords. And while Adwords allows only text-based ads in search results, Google Shopping Campaigns allows you to serve ads with product image, name, pricing, and some promotional text.
Have a look at the following search results for a product related query.
See the cool images, and the prices appearing underneath? Do you think those ordinary text based ads stand any chance against these ads? Also note how the entire “above the fold” area shows no organic result.
Here’s another example …
As you can see, product ads are more capable of grabbing your attention, thanks to the product images and prices.
To cut a long story short, text-based ads have their own advantages, but if we had to choose between the two options for ecommerce stores, it’ll unarguably be Google shopping campaigns.
What’s so great about Google Shopping Campaigns?
To start with, it takes the guesswork out of your bidding strategy. Your ad is triggered by a product search, and when a user clicks on that ad, he or she will land directly on your product page. So there’s a much better chance of conversion as compared to someone landing on your website from a generic search.
When you are paying for Google Shopping Campaigns (AKA Product Listing Ads), you are simply targeting people who are searching for your products. Shopping campaign ads have just one purpose. It is not about promoting your website or business; it is all about promoting your products and sales.
Not to forget, that Google Shopping Campaign ads will appear right there on top, even above the text based ads or organic results.
No wonder ecommerce stores and online retailers are using Google shopping campaigns and getting incredible results. And in most cases, the average cost per click is a fraction of what you will pay for some of those competitive keywords at Adwords.
So yes, there are a lot of things going your way when you are spending your advertising dollars via Google Shopping Campaigns.
Setting up a campaign
Before you can start using shopping campaigns, you will need to set up a merchant account.
Simply go to Merchant Center page and sign up. You will be prompted to enter basic information like country, name of your store, and URL. Remember that you will have to verify the URL and all of your product feeds must be coming from the same domain.
Before applying for a merchant center account, make sure you have uploaded contact information; return policy, billing terms and conditions on your website. And your website has a functional checkout process, and it is SSL protected.
The next step is to send your data feed in text or XML format. Here’s a nice little video tutorial by Google on how to upload your products data feed to your merchant account.
Next, you need to link your Merchant Center Account with your Adwords. Luckily, it’s a very simple process. Go to “Settings” in Merchant Center Account, and choose Adwords. Copy and paste your Adwords Customer ID in the designated field and click on Link Account.
Now you are ready to launch a Shopping Campaign from Adwords. Simply create a new campaign and choose shopping as the type of campaign.
Go through the basic settings like choosing your daily budget, default bid, networks, country of sale, etc.
By default, the Shopping Campaign will use all products. If you want to change this, you can filter products by brand, product type, category, item ID, or Label.
Tips for Best Results
1) While setting up a campaign, Adwords will ask you to choose priority in the Advance shopping settings. If you have a lot of products and limited budget, it’s better to divide your budget in two or three campaigns with different priorities. Use your best selling products in high priority campaign, while choosing the medium or low priority settings for the rest. By doing this, you can make sure that your best selling products are getting the maximum exposure.
2) It goes without saying that you will have to use good quality images for your products, preferably with white or light grey background.
3) Just like social media, where the same content can get different responses depending on the day and timing of the post, your ads can also produce different results at different times. Luckily for you, Google shopping campaign allows you to focus more on certain time and days of the week. You can identify the best possible timing by evaluating the data in Dimensions tag.
4) Make sure you have provided correct information in your data feed, and keep it current, because the entire campaign depends on the product data and attributes that you’ve provided via this feed. You can also search for a plugin for that, if you are using one of those well known ecommerce platforms.
5) Use benchmark data to have an idea of industry-wide bids, CPC, and performance for similar products, and adjust your bids accordingly. These figures are not always accurate, but you can still have a rough idea of industry trends, and how a particular product is performing.
6) If you are unsure about increasing or decreasing bid amount for some product group, you can use bid simulator to see how an increase or decrease will impact the performance of your ads.
Google Shopping Campaigns might be a little more complicated than a typical Adwords campaign, and the learning curve is steeper, but it’s worth all the effort you will put in learning. Not to forget that it’s fairly new (Google recently completed the transition from Product Listing Ads to Shopping Campaigns), so the quicker you can learn and adapt, the bigger edge you’ll have over your competitors.
Feature image curtsey of Intersog