Google “Shopping” Replacing “Product Listing Ads”

At the end of last year, Google announced their new Shopping Campaigns, which is a new campaign structure for product listing ads that offers a better way to manage the unique challenges of scaling Google Product Listing Ads (PLA). Shopping campaigns, which has several retail-specific features, presents a new phase in the development of Google’s feed-driven shopping ads.

The new structure will present cleaner, more intuitive methods of building out campaigns across catalogs of all sizes for many advertisers. For experienced advertisers with sophisticated campaign structures already in place, some features may be limiting. If the advertiser builds the campaign correctly, Google Shopping Campaigns will afford more discoverable views of performance by individual products, brands and categories.

Custom Labels and Product Groups
Currently, PLA campaigns use “product targets” to organize inventory, that specify which products in the feed should trigger PLA campaigns to appear for related searches. Shopping Campaigns will use product groups instead of product targets. This will allow advertisers to be more precise and have more control with their targeting.

Using groups gives advertisers the ability to segment their products using any of the attributes in the product feed including ID, product type, brand, product category and condition, as well as up to five custom labels. Custom labels allow advertisers to create even more precise groupings of their products, such as breaking out top performing or on-sale products. Custom labels and additional product details will be available in AdWords to tag and organize specific product traits.

Advertisers will then be able to use these groups to subdivide their products up to five times within Shopping campaigns, creating highly-specific product groupings. All products that aren’t placed in these groupings will be organized into an “everything else” grouping.

Shopping campaigns will also allow the ability to prioritize specific products or segments within the campaigns without having to make bidding adjustments or the need to adjust negative keyword strategies. This will be very helpful during promotional periods.

Expanded Reporting
While PLA reporting capabilities were somewhat limited in regards of precision, Shopping campaigns will also allow performance visibility by individual item ID/SKU, as well as product attributes or custom labels. Even if the advertiser has an “all products” campaign catch-all, Shopping Campaigns will have reporting on product level metrics.

Competitive Insights
Shopping campaigns offer more robust competitive insights than PLA campaigns, with Impression Share and CTR/CPC performance benchmarking data at the product group level.

Impression Share data will enable improved budget and bidding strategies by showing advertisers how often they are showing in auctions for terms related to their products. Google is also releasing a bid simulator feature, to offer bidding and impression volume predictions, for bid changes against competitors who are competing in the same auctions.

API Integrations
Google is in the process of working with agencies and search management platforms to add support for Shopping campaigns. While timing has not been confirmed, integrations are likely to occur in the beginning of summer. Since these tools aren’t yet available, advanced campaigns would need to be constructed manually, or through the AdWords API.

With API information just released in March, it will take time for bidding platforms to develop their offerings to support integration with shopping campaigns.

Shopping campaigns allow retailers to add a promotional message to all of the products within a particular ad group.

Shopping campaigns are a noticeable improvement over traditional PLA campaigns because of easier, more intuitive management of product groupings and exciting new reporting capabilities.

With the simplicity of managing Shopping campaigns, it is expected that more advertisers will take advantage of PLAs. A retail-centric experience for campaign management may be more attractive to small and medium business advertisers who may not have robust product feed and campaign management capabilities. As new potential advertisers enter the market, there is a possibility of CPC increases due to new competitor volume.

Despite the threat of rising CPCs, advertisers will have new layers of data in their toolbox for granular SKU level optimizations and on-demand competitive knowledge for more informed bidding and budgeting decisions.

Google is also anticipating building more tools and features into the Shopping Campaigns to further improve PLA management.

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