High-Octane Bidding for Google Shopping Campaigns

March 27, 2015
James Varughese, Product Manager

Online retailers are well aware of how important Google Shopping campaigns are to their paid search initiatives. It’s no wonder, given the way Shopping Campaigns combine the best parts of search and display ads into one format (images, detailed information, pricing, promotions, etc.), delivering higher CTRs and conversions. The result has been a shift away from traditional keyword spend to Google Shopping campaigns.

The recent holiday season forced many advertisers to quickly adopt and adapt their SEM strategies to optimize for Google Shopping campaigns. Now, as we prepare for more upcoming busy seasons (Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, Independence Day, etc.) it makes sense to pause for a moment and ask:

"Are my Shopping campaigns truly reaching their full potential?"

To answer the question, we need to look at two factors: Merchant Center (Product) Feeds and Shopping Campaign Management.

How to Build a Robust Product Feed

A robust product feed is not just a thing of beauty (we’re all data nerds here at Campanja), it also gives you better control over inventory when entering into paid auctions. As a reminder, a product feed contains all of the pertinent information (Brand, Product Type, Color, Size, etc.) about your goods and is used by search engines to match search queries to specific products.

Product feeds with completed (both required and optional fields) and unique attributes help search engines serve the right product at the right time, ultimately providing a better experience for your customer. Additionally, there is a theory that an implicit quality score is assigned at the product level within the product feed, which could potentially give more robust feeds a higher standing among other advertisers with unoptimized feeds.

 

 Including required and optional product attributes to your feed
makes ads more robust to both Google and the customer.

 

Along with product feed content, you need to consider the compliance of your product feed with the search engine. Periodically reviewing the approval status of product feeds to ensure your inventory is not being restricted is a commonly overlooked step. This is especially relevant for advertisers with large catalogs or manage multiple feeds from different partners.

After ensuring your product feed is firing on all cylinders, it’s time to dive into Shopping Campaign management.

Effective Shopping Campaign Management

There are two specific aspects to Google Shopping Campaign management that we’d like to focus on: Campaign Structure and Bid Optimization. Many large advertisers have dedicated teams working on feed-based commerce (Shopping Campaigns, CSEs, Social Platforms, etc.) and a separate team responsible for search engine (Google AdWords) accounts. Open communication between teams really pays off here. Product feed managers should share how the feed is constructed and what data is included. Search/Shopping campaign managers should share how their products perform based on keyword data. Campaign Structures that allow advertisers to focus on specific areas of their inventory are a necessary component of a successful Shopping program.

 

How Campanja optimizes Google Shopping bids

 

Bid Optimization

Bid Optimization is another important, yet commonly overlooked, area of Google Shopping Campaign management. While a few campaign management systems do apply some optimization to Shopping Campaigns, these systems are not typically designed for Shopping Campaigns, and are often inefficient.

Customer demand, available volume and other behaviors can change dramatically from hour to hour throughout the day. If you are bidding once a day (or less), you are likely leaving countless opportunities to reduce costs, serve impressions and capture conversions on the table. The ability to create models for specific times of the day and days of the week is necessary so you can bid more aggressively during periods of increased performance and retreat during periods of inefficiency.

Reach and Frequency are two areas in which your bidding platform should excel. Reach refers to the number of targets that are actively being bid on. Frequency refers to the rate at which bids are changed throughout the day.

Here’s an example of how the two capabilities influence advertisers. Granular product campaign structures almost always have segments with sparse data. A bidding engine that employs sophisticated machine learning and a full understanding of the data available in the API will make the best possible decisions on more targets throughout the day, compared to a system that may not borrow data as well and that sets bids once per day. This also holds true for areas of campaigns that get plenty of traffic and are believed to be performing at peak efficiency, when in reality there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Google Shopping advertisers that take the time to fully optimize their product feed should also realize the positive impact responsive bidding can have on their campaign performance.

To ensure you are fully optimizing your Google Shopping campaigns, sign up for a Campanja Risk-free Trial here.

James Varughese, Product Manager
James Varughese, Product Manager

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