Your 2-Minute Introduction to Google's New Shopping Campaigns

The Google Product Listing Ad world just got a little more exciting. Enter Google's Shopping Campaigns, a new campaign type for Product Listing Ads. Check out this post to learn all about them and what they can do for you. 

Greetings Google Shoppers and happy 2014! Now that we’ve put away the holiday decorations and the smoke from the fireworks has dissipated, it’s time to look ahead and plan our paid search strategies for the next year.  But first, let’s take a look back.

2013 was a big year for Product Listing Ads.  Google Shopping is now available in 23 countries, with over 1 billion products promoted with a conversion rate of almost three percent.  So it’s safe to say that Product Listing Ads are changing the paid search game, and for good reason.  Product Ads offer merchants a chance to engage with shoppers that are highly interested in what they're selling.  Because Product Ads give detailed information about a product - including pricing, sales tax and shipping information, as well as a picture – a merchant knows that shoppers brought to his site are shoppers that are engaged and genuinely interested in what he’s selling.

However, PLA campaigns are not without their problems.  AdWords is an advertising service that, until recently, had been used only for traditional PPC campaigns.  PLAs are different, and if you don’t do your homework, these campaigns can be unintuitive and hard to optimize.  For one, there are many metrics and aspects of PPC campaigns that do not apply to PLAs at all. Without the utilization of keywords, it can be difficult to see ways to improve your campaign performance, and the fact that some competitive metrics such as Average Position and Impression Share not offered for PLAs, identifying missed opportunities can seem easier said than done.

. googleshopping1Some competitive metrics are not available for Product Listing Ads, which makes it difficult to identify missed opportunities. . .

Introducing Google Shopping campaigns

With that in mind, Google has recently unveiled Shopping campaigns, a new campaign type for PLAs that addresses some of these issues merchants were experiencing.  What Shopping campaigns offer is more retail-centric product management and optimization techniques which utilize data from new metrics.

For example, instead of organizing your products into loose groups using AdWords labels and auto targets, Shopping campaigns allow merchants to view product performance on a much more granular level – down to individual SKUs.  New custom fields (“custom_label_0”, “custom_label_1”, all the way to “custom_label_4”) can now be inserted in to a data feed file, which allows much greater control over product categorization.


By clicking on the new products tab in AdWords, merchants are able to optimize on a much more granular level. .

In order to make organization more streamlined, Shopping campaigns will also automatically use your site’s own categorization to set up product groups using the google_product_category and product_type fields that are already in your data feed.  This allows you to view performance based on Google’s specific taxonomy as well as your own category tree. For many merchants, these default product groups will be more than enough to get a solid Shopping campaign started.


Meet the new metrics

The most illuminating change by far is the addition of several new competitive metrics.  Shopping campaigns will have three new insightful tools: Benchmark Max Cost Per Click, Benchmark Max Click Through Rate, and Impression Share.

. googleshopping3.

BENCHMARK MAX CPC and CTR aggregate and average competitive performance data to give merchants an idea of how competitive they are relative to their competitors’ bids and click through rates. This takes much of the guessing out of bid management by way of transparency, as merchants are able to see average maximum bids for their industry.

IMPRESSION SHARE will show the percentage of impressions out of the maximum total a specific merchant was eligible for.  If your impression share is low, this most likely means that you missed out on having your ad shown due to reaching your maximum daily budget.  Using the total number of impressions you received and your impression share, you will be able to easily see which products are getting the most search volume, and can adjust your bids and budget accordingly.

Google also has plans to implement a bid simulator tool, which will estimate impression share changes as max CPC rates increase or decrease.


As with any changes Google makes, Shopping campaigns are slowly being rolled out, so they're not available to everyone just yet.  Google plans on having full global availability sometime early this year,  so be on the lookout for a future blog post revisiting Shopping campaigns with a more detailed look at how to set them up.