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Google Shopping campaigns are one of the most effective and important performance marketing opportunities for online retailers. Apart from advertisements on Amazon, I don't see any other advertising channel with such good ROAS and CPA values for CPC and CPM campaigns as Google Shopping.

I have already explained how to get started with Google Shopping campaigns here. However, setting up Google Shopping campaigns is only half the battle, because without regular monitoring and optimization, a lot of potential remains. In the following, I will explain how you can get even more out of your Google Shopping campaigns as part of the optimization measures for Google Shopping.

Automatic Google Ads suggestions:

If you already have Google Shopping campaigns running, then you are certainly used to the automatic suggestions from Google, which always call for an increase in budget and CPC. Whether these measures are always the right answer remains to be seen. The right advertising budget for your Google Shopping campaigns can only be determined based on experience. As a rule, the profitability of Google Shopping campaigns decreases as the campaign budget increases.

NoteGoogle Shopping campaigns are not good or bad per se. What I mean to say is that Google Shopping campaigns cannot be judged at campaign level, as the CPA and ROAS values differ significantly at category, product, keyword and even device level!

Therefore, the helicopter perspective is not meaningful without a precise analysis of product and keyword performance. As a rule, only a part of your product range will lead to positive results in Google Shopping.
The results are largely dependent on the competitive situation and the company's own margin situation. In a highly competitive category with low margins, optimization measures only help to a limited extent.

I will begin with the presentation of the "Low-hanging fruits" of Google Shopping optimizations and will also talk about product feed optimization in particular in the further course of the article.

When analyzing Google Shopping results, sooner or later you will find out that the conversion values differ between Google Ads and Google Analytics. It goes without saying that the results in Google Analytics and in the Google Ads report differ, but you can find out why here.

1. exclude negative keywords / keywords

The special thing about running Google Shopping campaigns is that we as advertisers cannot enter any keywords for the placement of Google campaigns. This has the advantage that we work more effectively at the start of the placement, but ultimately this also means that the Google Shopping campaigns have to be managed regularly so that ads are not placed on irrelevant keywords and non-performance keywords.

To gain an insight into the search terms for which your products are displayed and clicked, first select the campaigns to be analyzed and then the ad group to be analyzed. Here we select the menu item "Keywords" in the left sidebar. A new page view now opens with the two menu items "Keywords to exclude" and "Search terms". First, we select the menu item "Search terms" and now take a look at the search terms that have led to clicks and purchases.

Here we quickly recognize search terms for which our products should not be displayed, but also search terms that are relevant but do not lead to the desired conversion.

If you sell your own brand, you will also see that there are also search terms that contain your own brand name; these search terms usually have a very good cost-turnover ratio, which often leads to a distortion of the actual campaign performance. This should definitely be taken into account and the revenue gained should possibly be discounted in order to obtain a more honest relationship to ROAS and CPA values.

We can now select search terms for which our products should not be displayed. Simply select the relevant search term and add it as a keyword to be excluded.

When excluding keywords, we can also define the level at which we are deactivated (account, campaign or ad group level). If you do not want your products to be displayed for this specific search term, you should select "Account" here.

When evaluating the search terms, you will certainly quickly realize that there are some keywords that are both relevant and lead to sales, but not at a pleasing cost-turnover ratio. Unfortunately, we cannot define CPCs at keyword level, only at product level. This means that an increase in the maximum CPC bid applies to all search queries.

However, I will explain in point 2 how we can gain a little more control when defining CPC bids.

2nd CPC bid influencing at keyword set level

As we already know, we cannot define a keyword-specific bid in our Google Shopping campaigns. However, this does not prevent us from having a little more control when defining CPC bids at keyword set level.

We now run not just one Google Shopping campaign that contains our different ad groups, but several almost identical campaigns that differ in the amount of CPC bids, the number of excluded keywords and the campaign priority.

The more precise a search term is, the higher the probability of purchase, because a user who submits a very precise search query already knows exactly what they are looking for and is therefore more likely to make a purchase than a user who is still in the research phase.

One example:

The search term "Suitcase" is likely to have a lower purchase probability than the search term "Suitcase 4 wheels 90 liters Blue Brand X". In the second search query, the user already has a very specific product idea and is only looking for the right provider and a fair price. In contrast, the user behind the first search query does not yet have a precisely defined idea of the desired product. However, this does not mean that the first search query should be completely neglected!

As already mentioned, we do not want to neglect either of the two search terms, but we do want to grant the second search term a higher CPC bid due to its higher purchase probability.

In my example, I create three campaigns (the number may vary depending on the type of search queries), which have an identical campaign structure. The next step is to name the campaigns.

The first campaign targets product-specific search queries, the second campaign contains search queries with a brand reference and the third campaign is placed for generic search terms.

Once we have created and defined the campaigns, the next step is to change the campaign priority. The generic Google Shopping campaign is given the highest campaign priority, the brand-related campaign a medium priority and the product-specific campaign the lowest priority.

Next, we need to adjust our desired maximum CPC bids per campaign as follows:

The product-specific campaign receives the highest CPC bid of all campaigns, the brand campaign a medium CPC bid and the generic campaign the lowest maximum CPC bid.

In the last step, we now need to add the keywords to be excluded to the campaigns. For our product-specific campaigns, we do not need to add any search terms to be excluded. For the brand campaign, on the other hand, we add the product names of the products to be advertised as negative search terms. The generic campaign contains both the brand names and the product names as search terms to be excluded.

What effect does this structuring of Google Shopping campaigns have?

By defining the campaign priority, our generic campaign is favored by Google, but this does not take place for search queries that contain a brand name or the product name, but only for generic search terms. As generic search terms generally have a low purchase probability, we define a low CPC here. Brand-related search terms are more likely to be purchased and therefore have a medium CPC bid, but this is only taken into account if no product-specific search terms are entered, as these are defined as search terms to be excluded. There is also no playout for generic search terms, as our generic shopping campaign has a higher priority.

Finally, our ads are only displayed in the product-specific campaign if the search queries have not already been covered by the brand-related or generic campaign.

3. google shopping campaigns or ad group structure

The campaign structure for Google Shopping campaigns mentioned in point 2 is one of the most elaborate and complex campaign structures. There are some cases where the campaign structure is not recommended. Regardless of whether you want to use this type of campaign structure, you should give some thought to how and, in particular, which products should be advertised together. The simplest campaign structure includes a campaign with all products and an ad and product group with all existing products. This type of structure for Google Shopping campaigns is the simplest and is used in particular by online retailers who are setting up a Shopping campaign for the first time. The disadvantage of this structure is the limited optimization potential. Bid adjustments are made at end device level for all products and all search terms. It is also more difficult to deactivate search terms, as the exclusion of a search term is immediately considered a deactivation for all products.

If you want a little more control and optimization potential, you should group the products to be advertised into ad groups and product groups according to their similarities. For example, women's purses should be placed in a common ad and product group and not mixed with men's purses and suitcases.

Let's just take a look at what types of campaign structure are possible, then the advantages should be more obvious.

A campaign with an ad and product group:

The simplest type of campaign structuring with little set-up effort. Disadvantage: hardly any optimization potential, as adjustments are immediately applied to all products.

A campaign with several ad and product groups

This requires more effort in the set-up of the campaign structure, especially with a high number of products. Products should not be arbitrarily grouped into product and ad groups, but rather products with matching content should be grouped together. If it is set up properly, this structure offers significantly more optimization potential and is the number 1 structure.

Various shopping campaigns with different products

Another option for campaign structuring is to structure different products into different campaigns. But what advantage does this have over the structuring in point 2? The advantage of presenting different products in different campaigns lies in the budget allocation. With this structure, we can now allocate a separate budget to each product set without different product sets competing with each other.

Different shopping campaigns with identical products

I discussed this set-up as part of the optimization measure for Google Shopping "CPC bid influencing at keyword set level". The setup effort is significantly higher because, in addition to the campaign priority, we also define different CPC bids and work with keywords to be excluded from the outset. The big advantage lies in the stronger influence on the CPC bids at keyword level.

4. bid adjustments based on the end device categories

As already mentioned above, the performance of Google Shopping campaigns differs at product and keyword level. The conversion values also generally differ depending on the end device used by the user. As a rule, high-priced products are still more likely to be purchased via computer than via smartphone. However, these findings only follow after evaluating the end device category for each ad group! To determine the performance by end device, we first select the ad group to be analyzed and then click on End devices in the left sidebar, as shown below.

Shopping Google Optimization

We then receive the conversion, click and cost analysis based on the end devices used and can make direct bid adjustments here.

In the following example, for example, we can see that a total of 2 conversions have been achieved, which were generated exclusively via computers, although we have visibly gained more visitors via smartphones.

Bid adjustment Google Shopping

Based on this information, we could now decide to increase the CPC for computers (e.g. 25%) and decrease our CPC for smartphones (-25%). After this change, we can then evaluate the effect of these measures and adjust them again if necessary.

5. customize ad planner by day and time

We can not only see which end devices and search terms have generated the most conversions, but also the time (day & time) of the conversion. To obtain this information, we first select our Google Shopping campaign and click on "Ads planner" in the left sidebar. In the top menu, we then click on "Day and time" so that we can see an overview of the campaign performance at day/time level.

Google Shopping optimization

When analyzing by day and time, conclusions should not be drawn too quickly! It usually takes several weeks or even months to obtain meaningful data on purchasing behavior over time. However, if you have enough data, then you should definitely use it. According to my observations, it is not necessarily certain times that should be deactivated, but actually entire blocks of time that are an indication that fewer purchases are made during this time of day. In the example above, I was able to observe that no conversions were made on Monday afternoon over a longer period of time (2 months), even though it is one of the most click-rich times of the week. For this reason, I decided to deactivate Monday afternoon for the time being.

NoteDeactivating a time of day means that all products in the campaign are not displayed during this period. The conversion times can also change per product category.

To influence the timing of the Google Shopping ads, we select the menu item "Ads scheduler" in the top menu and add the time periods in which our ads should be shown.

Shopping ad planner
6. deactivate unprofitable products or adjust max. Adjust CPC bid

One of the first things to do when optimizing Google Shopping campaigns is to evaluate by product performance. Product performance will usually differ drastically between products, even if products should only differ by color or size. In my experience, 20% of products generate 80% of sales. The increased focus should therefore be on optimizing the top 20% products, because these products are the only reason why Google Shopping efforts pay off.

You can find the broken down performance per product in the Google Shopping campaign after you have selected an ad group and taken a closer look at the product group. The removal of products or the reduction of the maximum CPC bid should always be done first. be carried out, after the previous optimization measures have been carried out and have not been successful. In the performance display of the products, you will notice that some products generate many clicks but lead to comparatively few conversions. This combination usually causes high CPA values, which should be reduced by lowering the maximum CPC bid.

If this measure does not lead to any improvement either, there is usually not much left to do apart from optimizing the product feed, which is explained later in the article, or deactivating the product.

7. review of performance based on advertising networks

When Google Shopping ads are displayed, the ads are not only shown in the Google search results pages but, if not deactivated, are also displayed on the pages of search network partners. The proportion of clicks and impressions gained through the use of search network partners should not be neglected, as this can even reach the same number of impressions as Google Shopping itself. However, it can be observed that the average CPA click-through rate decreases with the addition of search network partners. In some cases, the CPCs for search network partners are only ⅓ of the CPCs from the Google network.  

To analyze the performance based on the different advertising networks, select the "Advertising networks" display format in the Google Ads main menu, as shown below.

Advertising networks Google SHopping

There we now click on "Advertising networks" and get an overview of the different performances.

Shopping Performance

If you now decide to remove the placement of the search network partners, the first step is to select the Google Shopping campaign in which you want to deactivate the search network partners and then click on Settings.

There, under "Settings for targeting and planning", you will find the selection "Advertising networks", where you can finally undo the search network partner setting.

8. google shopping competition analysis

In the introduction, I already mentioned that the competition in your own Google Shopping product category has a significant influence on the impact of your own campaign performance. So that we as Google Shopping advertisers can better assess our opportunities and optimization potential, the Google Shopping evaluation provides us with some information that facilitates our optimizations.

In the following, we take a look at the following KPIs within Google Shopping campaigns.

→ Proportion of possible clicks

→ Share of possible impressions in the search network

→ Share of possible impressions at the top position in the search network

→ Share of lost impressions in the search network (rank)

Using these four KPIs, we can now find out how our Google Shopping ads are performing in relation to our competitors. We can view these values at product level, for example, if we have selected campaign and ad group → product group. These values are not displayed in the standard reporting of Google Shopping campaigns and must first be displayed using the "Columns → Customize columns" function.

Product groups Google ShoppingThere we select the "Share of possible clicks", "Share of possible impressions in the search network", "Share of possible impressions in the top position in the search network" and "Share of lost impressions in the search network (rank)" under "Competition metrics".

These values are now also displayed in the product group report, giving us a better overview of the current performance and competitive situation. give.

Another way to predict possible changes to the maximum CPC is by using the bid simulator, which provides information on estimated additional clicks per week for a given increase or decrease in the current CPC. What effect an increase or reduction in the current CPC will have on our product performance. To display the bid simulator, we now select the bid simulator under "Columns → Customize columns" and select the desired CPC adjustments.

Bid simulator shoppingThe values shown do not help us in the first step, but only help us if we also carry out the next steps, such as adjusting the CPC bid.

9. increase the click rate with merchant promotions

Anyone who takes a closer look at Google Ads will sooner or later stumble across the term "Quality factor". The quality factor significantly reflects the relevance of the ad. Relevance is determined in particular on the basis of the click-through rate. The quality factor and the CPC bid have a significant influence on the ad rank an ad receives on Google. A good placement leads to an increased click-through rate, which ultimately leads to lower CPC bids. For this reason, increasing the CTR should be a KPIS that should be optimized.

Now let's look at some ways to increase the click-through rate on your Google Shopping ads, such as using Merchant Promotion.

What are merchant promotions?

Merchant promotions are discount campaigns that online retailers can display on Google Shopping ads to draw the attention of potential customers to time-limited promotions. A merchant promotion from the online retailer "kofferexpress24" is shown below.

Merchant Promotion Google ShoppingA merchant promotion is represented by the word "offer" and, in my experience, is relatively less common. The advantages of merchant promotion are as follows:

→ Increase the click rate by increasing the display

→ Increase conversion by providing incentives

There are certain types of merchant promotion that can be created:

DiscountsPercentage discounts or graduated discounts

Shipping offers: Free or discounted shipping

Gifts: In addition to the purchase, you will receive a gift card or an additional item as a gift.

If you would now also like to include merchant promotions, you must first implement the following Form and express your interest.

The next optimization points can be summarized under the keyword "product feed optimization".

10. outstanding product images

A picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true when selling products online. Unique images can also help to showcase your own products even more, so that your own Google Shopping ads generate a greater proportion of impressions and clicks.

In the following example, we see two providers who have provided particularly vivid images for Google Shopping.

Images Google Shopping

As a rule, standardized product data from your own online store is transferred directly to the Google Shopping ads. This data is usually not suitable for Google Shopping optimized and contain standard product data in addition to standard image material. The additional work invested in image material and the modified product information can increase the success of Google Shopping campaigns.

11. detailed and meaningful product titles

The product title submitted to Google Shopping is the most important placement for relevant keywords. As we cannot proactively name keywords for which our products are displayed in Google Shopping campaigns, we must ensure that the most important keywords are included in the product information (title, description). The product title is by far the most important placement. The submitted product title can be up to 150 characters long and Google encourages advertisers to use the entire space as well.

As the product title is only partially visible in most cases, care should be taken to ensure that the most important product information is displayed at the beginning of the title. In addition to the pure keywords, the brand name and the properties of the product (e.g. waterproof) should also be included in the title.

12. indication of the GTIN code

Does your product range consist mainly of third-party brands? Then you should definitely assign the GTIN code to your products. By classifying the GTIN code, we make it easier for Google to identify relevant products, which ultimately leads to your products generating more relevant traffic and you can enjoy a reduction in the CPA value.

Conclusion Google Shopping optimization:

Used correctly and checked regularly, Google Shopping can be a reliable source of visitors and customers. In addition to the optimization tips mentioned here, there is of course the online store that customers land on. In my opinion, this is often not even considered for optimization measures. The general increase in the conversion rate in your own online store ultimately also leads to an improvement in the campaign results in Google Shopping.

Tobias Dziuba

My name is Tobias and I am the founder and managing director of the Amazon agency Adsmasters GmbH based in Düsseldorf.

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