Most digital marketers with retail responsibilities are looking to run Shopping campaigns that consistently outperform their peers. In our Marin Software Retail Guide, we draw on our expertise managing global ad campaigns to unpack what you need to know to succeed with Shopping ads.
Shopping Ads Continue to Boom
Whether you’re starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll benefit from learning more about the fastest-growing ad type on the web. We cover several key ways to boost your Shopping campaign performance:
Taking control of your product feed
Establishing a campaign structure for seamless workflow
Optimizing performance to deliver business results
Shopping Ads Versus Text Ads
Shopping ads are fundamentally different from text ads, because marketers must maintain dual visibility into both product feed and campaign performance. This speaks to the dependent relationship between feeds and campaigns—a change to one directly impacts the other.
With this complexity in mind, marketers must approach Shopping campaigns holistically to generate positive results. Your product feed is a great place to begin—our guide includes instructions for cleaning up your product feed and making sure it contains all the right elements for winning campaigns. From there, it details how to fine-tune your campaigns, optimization, advanced strategies like mobile and RSLA, and more.
If you’ve stayed up to date with Google Shopping optimization techniques, you may already be doing a stellar job of creating effective and engaging campaigns. But, are you covering all bases to ensure the highest possible yields? Here are three tips and strategies to fine-tune your efforts.
1. Ensure Your Products Include Ratings
One of the most effective ways to make your product listings stand out is to enrich them with product star ratings. This will add to your brand’s credibility and help attract qualified visitors.
In order for your ads to be eligible to show ratings, you must have a minimum of 50 reviews across all of your products and an individual product must have at least three reviews. You can source these ratings from a number of different review aggregator sites. If your products meet these requirements, you must then send an interest form to Google in order to enable ratings.
The fact is, as survey research indicates, customer reviews factor heavily into consumer buying decisions in this increasingly competitive online shopping landscape. Make sure your products are equipped to keep up.
2. Include Unique Product Identifiers
In 2016, Google instituted the requirement that all Merchant Center products that have a manufacturer-assigned GTIN must have them included in their data feed. According to Google, this decision was made because including GTINs helps them to better identify the product, and therefore to better facilitate the delivery of ads for those products in more relevant ways to users.
While this requirement was only put in place for products with GTINs, the logic still applies for including other types of unique product identifiers that aren’t included under that umbrella term such as MPN (Manufacturer Part Number) and Brand. So, if the products you’re selling use any such identifiers, from a performance standpoint it makes sense to include them in your product feed. In fact, as part of their rationale, Google notes that merchants who added GTINs to their feeds saw conversion rates increase up to 20%.
3. Silo Shopping Campaigns Based on Intent
In a previous post about optimizing shopping campaigns, we emphasized the importance of using negative keywords to filter out unqualified traffic. But you can also use negatives, combined with campaign priority settings, to create intent-targeted campaigns with what is sometimes referred to as a negative keyword “waterfall.”
Here’s the idea:
With our standard search campaigns, we can actively bid on keywords to aid in our Shopping campaign targeting and adjust bids according to each keyword’s level of search intent. Not so with actual Shopping campaigns—but there’s a great workaround. We can instead rely on keyword negatives, and take advantage of the Shopping campaign priority setting to funnel search queries to trigger ads from the campaigns of our choosing. In this way, we can effectively set optimal bids on our products based on search intent.
We start by setting up multiple, identical campaigns in which the only differences will end up being their negative keyword inventory, campaign priority settings, and bids. Since there are three campaign priority settings (High, Medium, and Low) we can break out up to three campaigns, each of which will correspond to different levels of intent.
The campaign priority setting works such that whenever you have products across campaigns that can be triggered by the same search query, the product whose campaign has the higher priority will be shown, regardless of their bids. This is where strategically added negatives come in, as this would otherwise result in only the High Priority campaign delivering ads. These negatives will correspond to different levels of intent and, since we’ve designated three levels of campaign priority, we’ll also need to designate three levels of keyword intent to our negatives. Just like we do when we structure our traditional search campaigns, let’s think of these levels of intent in degrees of specificity—we’ll call them generic (e.g. “shoes”), product (“running shoes”), and brand (“Nike shoes”).
The campaigns should end up looking and functioning like this:
The high-priority campaign will be designated, inversely, as the Low Intent campaign. This will contain negative keywords that include both the product and brand levels of specificity. This campaign will therefore only be triggered on generic search queries. Accordingly, we want to set bids low on these products since we expect these search queries to have the lowest conversion rate.
The medium-priority campaign will be designated as the Brand Intent campaign. This one will contain negative keywords that include only the product level of specificity. This campaign will therefore be triggered on branded search queries with product-level queries excluded and because the generic keywords will be captured by Low Intent campaign due to priority. The bid level on these will depend on whether the brand is your own (in which case, keep bids low as you’ll already have an advantage) or not (in which case, bids should be set higher as there will likely be more competition).
The low-priority campaign will be designated, inversely, as the High Intent campaign. This one will contain no “waterfall” negatives (only negatives for filtering out unqualified traffic). This campaign will therefore be triggered on product-level queries only since the and brand and generic queries will be captured by the higher-priority campaigns. The bid level on these should be set higher since they describe a specific product.
More and more advertisers making use of PLAs in their digital marketing programs with increasingly sophisticated technologies like feed management tools and bidding automation. It’s more important than ever to make sure that yours are able to stand up to the competition.
This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at 3Q Digital.
Product listing ads, or PLAs, are an incredibly successful strategy for e-commerce companies to promote available product inventory on Google and Bing. Unlike standard search ads, PLAs incorporate a visual image over a text description to show the user the product they’re searching for.
There are plenty of reasons why you should be adding a PLA strategy into your advertising mix. Cost-per-click (CPC) will generally be below what you’ll see across search ads. As a result of showing the user an image of the product they’re searching for, click-through-rate will usually be pretty strong. Once the user clicks the ad, they’re taken directly to the product page, making the user journey simple and leading to a higher conversion rate.
Additionally, it’s quite easy to set up and manage campaigns. Both Google and Bing provide product level reporting, so you can also see how each product is doing individually.
With the holiday season in full swing, let’s take a look at some tips to drive great results from your PLA campaigns.
The first and most important step in improving PLA performance is to have the proper product group segmentation. Product group segmentation is vital to drive traffic efficiently. If all of your products are lumped together in a single product group sharing the same bid, you’re not maximizing your PLA campaign potential. In this case, you’re bidding the same amount for your best performing product group as your worst. This will lead to wasted spend and a poor return on ad spend over time.
A well-managed PLA campaign should have a structure that allows for isolation of product groups. Look to each product’s category, type, or brand to figure out what level of segmentation works best. In some cases, it may be best to separate each product entirely.
After viewing your product category report, you’ll have a good idea of what type of product group segmentation will work best for your campaign. In order to optimize the new structure, look at the average CPC for each product group and the ROAS. If the ROAS is below account target, you should start bidding with a CPC below the average. Likewise, if you have a ROAS that’s well above target, you can start that product group with a bid above the CPC to maximize returns.
Try to make use of your conversion rate, ROAS target, acceptable CPA, and average order value to back your way into a starting bid. Let’s imagine the AOV for an account is $50, conversion rate is 1%, and ROAS target is 200%. For this imaginary product group, a $0.25 bid is suitable.
PLA campaigns are very likely to drive more traffic from mobile devices than desktop or tablet devices. Generally speaking, this increase in traffic comes at a price, meaning lower conversion rates and ROAS. Look at how your campaigns are performing across devices, and be sure to use negative mobile modifiers for mobile devices and tablets if it makes sense.
If you’re already bidding down on mobile devices, be sure to take a look at your desktop CPCs when placing starting bids on your new product group structure. It may be possible that the cheap mobile clicks are driving down your average CPCs. If that’s the case, then base your new bids on the desktop CPC to avoid a loss in traffic.
An often-overlooked aspect of PLA campaign management is mining for negatives. Just like a search campaign, PLA campaigns need to be scrubbed regularly for negative terms to prevent wasted spend.
There’s still time this holiday season to maximize your PLA performance across Google and Bing! See if you can utilize some of these tips to drive great results.
With school out and warm weather in, we traditionally think of the summer months as the best time to take a vacation. However, is it actually prime time for search advertisers to ramp up their ad campaigns?
To answer this question and others, we took a look at travel advertisers on Google and Bing. We examined 2014 and 2015 to locate any trends in advertiser spend and performance for the travel vertical across quarters, and to assess the state of consumer behavior. Google and Bing dominate the global search market, which made them ideal for our study—other search publishers have regional presence at best, so they were excluded.
We found a few interesting things:
Summer searches, but fall clicks. Although, on average, consumers searched for travel terms (flights, lodging, auto rentals, etc.) almost 20% more during summer than winter, clicks on travel-related searches didn’t peak in summer as expected. Instead, their highest point was in autumn, right after the summer months.
The great smartphone migration. Over the past two years, travel advertisers have steadily shifted spend away from desktop and tablet towards smartphone. While smartphone made up under 10% of search spend in early 2014, by end of 2015, that number grew to almost 30% of all search budgets.
Native is restless. The travel ad format that’s seen significant growth is native advertising via channels such as Yahoo! Gemini. Starting in late 2014, investment growth in native ads by travel companies grew almost 5x by mid to late 2015. While this format is one of the newer ones, it’s been growing consistently in both advertiser and consumer adoption over the past year.
How do you get your product feed in front of as many eyes as possible? Are you using Facebook Dynamic Product Ads? Just Google Shopping? Do you have an effective social prospecting strategy? Do you know how to get your product ads in front of people who’ve never seen them before?
If your answer to any of these questions is “meh,” then this blog post is for you.
How to Get More People to See Your Product Feed
There are two ways to get your products in front of potential customers on the web today:
Paid placement (cost-per-click)
Marketplace (revenue share)
If you're a retailer, it's in your best interest to blast your product feed far and wide to make sure your product is available whether a potential customer is searching for it on Google or Amazon, or browsing the Yahoo News feed. Heck, maybe they just need a reminder that they didn’t complete their purchase of those cute red pumps.
The obvious next question is—how do I ensure my product is reaching all my potential customers across the many channels and publishers on the web? Full-blown shopping capabilities allow you to get your products in front of millions of customers through all the major paid avenues—and all the leading marketplaces like Amazon and eBay—from a single product feed. This is the easiest way to execute a true “omni-channel shopping campaign.” (Request a demo to find out how we can help you do this.)
Facebook DPA: The Value Proposition
Facebook Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) help you promote relevant products to shoppers browsing your product catalog. Once they’ve visited your website or mobile application, you can retarget them on Facebook with the specific products they showed interest in, dynamically displayed with information from your product feed (price, name, in stock or not, etc.).
There are several great things you can do with DPA:
Upsell or cross-sell campaigns to increase the chances of selling complimentary, relevant products to your customers.
Show your products to people who haven’t seen them.
Reach audiences no matter what channel, publisher, or device they’re on.
Here’s how this works.
Upsell and Cross-sell
Suppose a shopper buys a pair of designer shoes online, and then they see an ad for handbags from the same designer. By showing products related to what a customer orders, you increase your average order value and customer lifetime value. Upsell and cross-sell campaigns automatically extend the reach of your campaigns, and increase the chances of selling relevant incremental products.
With a prospecting campaign, you can offer products from your catalog to new audiences most likely to use your products (by way of a Facebook algorithm or dynamic ads across the web). This feature is meant to give you an optimal workflow—one that allows you to bulk-edit ads and duplicate DPA campaigns for retargeting, upsell, or cross-sell, all in one function.
So, for example, instead of having four separate campaigns and workflows, you can create just one workflow that handles everything you would’ve included in those disparate campaigns.
A small number of Facebook partners (including Marin) can edit product sets, add URL tags, choose creative templates, and see full previews as you make selections. These features have excellent workflow capabilities, so they deliver both fantastic targeting and ease of use. Contact us to learn more.
Having shopping campaigns on both Google and Facebook catapults the power and performance of your product feed. Do you have the time and resources, though, to manage your shopping campaigns on two different platforms?
If you do, you should definitely include your product feed on both channels to extend your reach. If you don’t, Marin’s Smart Sync for Shopping feature automatically clones and syncs your shopping campaigns from Google to Facebook, eliminating the need for lengthy IT support. With Marin Display, you can use your same product feed to run prospecting campaigns to those outside Google and Facebook.
About Those Omni-Channel Campaigns....
Even more powerful than Google Shopping or Facebook DPA alone, omni-channel distribution allows you to advertise across a wide array of channels and publishers—native, search, social, eBay, Amazon shopping...the list of both paid and non-paid platforms goes on.
To wring every last drop of value from your product feed, you should showcase it through as many online venues as you can. You should also make sure you’re constantly optimizing your feed for the greatest possible returns.
A Word on Cross-Channel Advertising
Retailers who combine all of the above functionality with display retargeting can boast of having a full cross-channel solution, one that automatically puts in overtime to expand your reach and boost revenue. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all channels, and heighten your brand effectiveness in time for back-to-school and the Q4 holiday season.
Digital advertising is a fast-evolving organism. For retailers, this means constantly looking for new ways to meet and exceed business goals. Promoting your product catalog across channels is a powerful way to upsell existing customers and for finding new ones. To learn more about how Marin can help, request a demo.