Google Shopping Optimisation Tips

Google Shopping Optimisation Tips

1st September 2014

As of today, (1st of September), the traditional Product Listings Ads (PLA) campaigns are no more! Don’t worry – your live PLA campaigns aren’t going to vanish, but you won’t be able to do anything to them except change the budget, or campaign status.

Since earlier this year, Google has been encouraging us to migrate our campaigns over to their Google Shopping format which is the new way for us to manage our product listings ads. For anyone that hasn’t yet, Google will begin an auto-upgrade process throughout this month to do this for you, but as with Enhanced Campaigns before it, you’re probably better off managing the migration yourself if at all possible so that you get the campaigns structured the way that best suits you and your business.

This post isn’t going to cover off how to migrate your campaigns but I wanted to share some tips you can use to optimise your campaigns once they’re up and running. Ready?



Shopping campaigns offer an additional level of hierarchy that wasn’t present with PLAs as you can now use ad groups as well as product targets (now known as “product groups” to manage your products. While this means it’s possible for you to theoretically cover off all of your Shopping needs in a single campaign, I’d highly recommend you have multiple campaigns.


As well as tighter budget control, there’s some other new nifty features that you can take advantage of if you split out your campaigns. Your ROI will thank you! Caveat – don’t create more granularity than you can easily manage – there’s a balance to be found between enough detail to deliver the right return and the time it takes you to look after it – don’t create a monster that takes days to optimise.


All Products

As with PLAs, it’s best practice to ensure you set up a catch-all “All Products” product group with a lower bid. This is brilliant for ensuring you show for products that may not have their own campaigns yet, but you can use the data to give you insight as to what products or categories you may want to split out in the future. (More on this later.)


Campaign Priority

One of my favourite features can be found in your campaign settings, hiding under “Shopping settings (advanced). Expand this and you have the option to set your campaigns at either a Low, Medium or High priority.

Campaign Priority

Why is this useful? With PLAs you previously needed to use bids to control your campaigns – the more important a particular product target was to you, the higher you needed to set the bid, to ensure it took precedence when there was any potential overlap. With Shopping campaigns, this tactic still has a place, but isn’t as necessary.

Use this option to tier your campaigns – when more than one bid is available for a product, the priority you’ve set for the campaign determines which one Google will use.

My suggestion? Create an “All Products” campaign and set it at a Low priority. Almost all of your other campaigns can be set at a Medium priority, reserving High priority for bestsellers or promotional products that you really want to push, or for seasonal activity. At the moment we’re prepping seasonal campaigns for Halloween and Christmas, marking them as High priority to ensure they show with the right messaging at the right time, to the right audience.


Exclude Product Targets

With PLAs, if you wanted to exclude a product or group of products from a particular campaign, you either had to use extensive negative keyword lists, or have an extremely granular campaign/product target structure to give you the level of control you needed.

In your Shopping campaigns, you can easily exclude individual products, entire subcategories and more. To do it, you need to add the item you want to exclude as if you want to actively bid on it. Click into the Max CPC field as if you want to set a bid and select the “Excluded” option. Click “Save”. Done!


We find this really useful in Product Groups aimed at specific products, as you can add in individual SKUs and exclude all your other items. It also gives you that measure of control as you can very easily exclude particular categories or sub-categories – meaning that your highly targeted campaigns can do the job you’ve designed them for while your “All Products” captures anything left over.


Competitor Benchmarking Data

This is probably my favourite new feature! Any time you navigate to one of your product groups in Adwords, you’re able to get a handy snapshot showing how your products are performing against others who are selling similar products. Select the date range you want to analyse and the data just magically drops into your data view:


The data given to you covers Benchmark Click-Through Rate and Benchmark Max CPC. This is fantastic for working out whether you’re paying above or below market rate and also for finding out how compelling your ads/images are compared to the competition.

If your Avg CPC and CTR are lower and higher respectively than the benchmark and your Impression Share is low, then you can look at increasing your bids to gain more of the market at a competitive rate. If you’re underperforming according to the benchmark and paying over the odds, then this can be a sign that you might need to optimise the copy or images used by your product feed. Either way, it’s a great way to help you prioritise your efforts and best use your time.

In the above example, our product group is performing better than our competitors but still has room to grow on Impression Share – so I could probably stand to increase the bid a little here and monitor performance to see if we’re able to generate more sales.


New Dimensions

Who doesn’t love new data to play with? As part of the Shopping upgrade Google have added a new set of fields to the Dimensions tab which is also where you can now find your Search Query reports – now renamed “Search Terms”:


The Search Terms report gives you all of the same data you’re used to as before – the only difference now is where you go to find it. Remember it’s now under Dimensions!

Search Terms

Of the new reports lurking in the Shopping subsection, the most useful for me is being able to report on Item ID. I love this report because I can sort by sales to look for products that might be worth pulling out into their own High Priority campaign. I could also sort by cost and look for items which are high spenders and low converters – I can then look to optimise or exclude these.

Item ID

The value you’ll get from all of these reports will depend on how your feed is configured – you may not have data available at the moment to populate these fields. If that’s the case, make friends with the people responsible for producing your product feed and see if there’s any way they can help you with that. You’ll also likely need their help if you want to optimise any of the images or copy used to try and improve your performance.



If you haven’t migrated your campaigns yet, it’s not too late to do it yourself! The auto-migration will take place throughout September and it’s not as painful to do yourself as you might think. Plus you’ll probably get a result that you’re happier with, than the one you could get from Google’s automated tool. Top tips from me?

  1. Get your “All Products” campaign set up – remember to set it up on a Low priority
  2. Set up a campaign(s) for your key products – if you have hero products that you want to bid on at a SKU level, set this up with your High priority and you know you’ve got it covered
  3. Go through your categories one at a time. Set up your Medium priority campaign based on whatever system works for you (we’re roughly following the structure of our site) and pause your PLAs once you’ve created your new Shopping campaign. Do it one by one and you’ll be done before you know it!

Does anyone else have any shopping snippets they’d like to share about what’s worked well for them? Let us know in the comments. Good luck and happy shopping!


Written By
Arianne Donoghue is the Paid Media Development Manager at Epiphany. Having started off her digital career client side over a decade ago, Arianne has worked for both agencies and brands in-house, specialising in all things paid search. She is now back agency side supporting on biddable media digital strategy. You...
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