Product Listing Ads or PLA’s for short, also known as the Google Shopping Feed, are a CPC (cost per click) product ad that online store merchants can purchase through the Googles Adwords system. They utilise a feed from your online store which then lists your products in the Google Shopping feed, these can then appear at the top and right of the search page results (although we may see this change, after the recent European ruling against Google).
Unlike normal search ads, PLA’s are easily distinguished by the presence of an image in the listing and are generally tailored towards an individual product.
Why should you use them? Google PLA’s are relatively easy to set up (although it can be time-consuming to get it 100% right). Shopping ads generally lead to much higher CTR’s than standard text ads which are great for traffic and possibly conversions. Shopping ads are also generally less expensive to get the click.
We discuss more than just these tips and tricks in our Webinar on secrets to winning with Google Shopping(PLA’s). Watch it for free here.
Tips & Tricks To Transform Your Google Shopping Feed
1. Data Quality.
The data quality that comes from your feed is paramount and this is one aspect that is often overlooked with PLA’s, simply put if the data within the feed contains inaccuracies or is poorly structured you will never get the best performance from the feed within shopping itself.
You can utilise some of your SEO knowledge here if you like as there are a lot of things that will help in both areas, so Product Title, Description is as important for product listing ads as they are for normal search results.
Make sure that all data is accurately reflected in the feed and the website, this is really important for the price if there are discrepancies here then the product will be disapproved until it is corrected and if left unresolved on a lot of products this can result in the account being suspended as well.
Within the UK prices have to include VAT as well as this can result in disapproval as well.
Review the data in your feed, make use of the diagnostics area within the Merchant Center look for errors and warnings and resolve them asap to avoid products being disapproved and possible account suspension. High percentages of errors and warnings will affect the quality of the feed and result in poor performance of your shopping ads.
2. Image Quality.
Image quality is also really important, it is really hard to provide uniformity across a large number of product images and as result stores are often set up with the images already on the site and then this is just ignored after the first iteration of the feed.
Again, you can make use of the errors being reported within the Merchant Center to identify and correct these issues. Avoid using watermarks and text with your images as these will almost certainly lead to products being disapproved.
Another good way of being better than the competition is to make the images you are using as unique as possible, most stores utilise images that have come directly from the manufacturer and are therefore more likely to be the same images being used by your competition. Even a slight difference of angle on the product image can be enough to distinguish you from your competitors and really help the performance of your ads.
3. Custom Labels.
Utilise Custom Labels, since they were introduced to Google PLA’s they have been used in a great many ways to improve the way we can access data within the feed. Custom Labels can now be set up within the Merchant Center by creating rules for the feed that are applied before the data is passed through to the AdWords account.
You can utilise up to five of these within the feed ‘custom_label_0 through to custom_label_4’ and can either be used to create and store a single value or a variety of values within a single label.
There are many ways that these can be utilised within a feed and there are no predefined formats from Google, however, you could use them to identify such things as Margin, Season, Top Sellers or Price Range all of which will help you to segregate products within the feed and allow improved bid management.
4. Bidding Strategies.
Utilise bidding strategies across your campaigns through Day Parting. Day Parting refers to the ability to divide your day into a number of smaller blocks and then adjust your bidding according to how well the campaigns are performing within those smaller more manageable blocks.
This becomes increasingly important when you realise that your campaigns have been running for 24 hours a day and that you have been burning the budget when nobody has been converting within very specific times of the day.
The standard ad scheduling system within Google Adwords only currently allows for 6 windows for bidding in any one day e.g. 12 am till 4 am, 4 am till 8 am, 8 am till 12 pm etc; which is fine for most accounts. However, if you utilise Google Ad Scripts then you can find or create scripts that will allow more granular bidding.
Once set up, dayparting can be a powerful tool for adjusting bids as relevant throughout the day, increasing bids at times where campaigns are performing and reducing where they are not. Utilising dayparting can result in significant savings within an account almost immediately.
5. Bidding By Device.
Another area for utilising bid strategies that are often overlooked is bidding by a device, this is becoming increasingly more important as we see mobile search start to overtake desktop. In a similar way to day parting, device bidding allows you to control how frequently your ads appear on different devices such as computers, tablets or mobile devices.
Once again this will give more control over how and where the budget is being spent across these devices and enabling the account manager to increase or decrease bids accordingly.
6. Remove Waste.
Our final tip is on cutting waste through negative keywords, this is another area that is all too often overlooked and can result in large amounts of the budget being wasted. Usually, through account managers not being aware, these can even be utilised in shopping campaigns.
Google shopping feed campaigns can also make use of the Search Query Report, this report is invaluable in looking at what terms have been driving the clicks and conversions within any of your campaigns. It also makes it really easy to identify any keywords that are costing a budget without delivering ROAS (return on ad spend) and these keywords can be excluded from your campaigns by adding them as negative keywords.
Again, by making prudent use of this it is very easy to save large amounts of budget throughout your campaigns and across the whole account.
Of course, none of these tips will be relevant if you are not tracking conversions properly throughout your account, so as a bonus tip please make sure that you are tracking your activity correctly. You would be surprised at the number of accounts we start to manage that haven’t got the most obvious things implemented and that includes conversion tracking.
If you want to know more about getting results like this, we recommend you take a look at our FREE WEBINAR. Where you can follow some of our tried and tested steps to eCommerce success. We discuss some easy and actionable tips to get the most out of your campaign.
If you cannot see what your ROAS is from your campaigns then you might as well throw the money on the fire, but at least you’ll be warm.
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