Google Shopping is a paid service. That offers an opportunity for many advertisers: more clicks, a lower cpc and better conversion rates. Advertisers are beginning to realize that the profitability of their Product Listing Ads depends on the quality of their product feed.
What are the most profitable feed optimizations that will help advertisers maximize the RoI of their Product Listing Ad campaigns?
DataFeedWatch analyzed the modifications that its customers executed between November and February and compiled the following top 10:
1. AdWords Grouping: Bids based on price
RoI-driven advertisers set higher bids for more expensive products. They divide all products into different price groups ($1-$5, $5-$10, etc.) so they can create product targets that are a mix of e.g. brand and price. Some of them are even able to categorize their products by margin and maximize gross margin across their entire product portfolio.
2. Exclude: only advertise profitable products
Most merchants exclude certain products from their Google-feed for various reasons: Seasonality, CPA too high, etc. Not advertising those products is a big saving.
Some merchants take that one step further; they exclude products on a per-channel basis: some products do well on Shopzilla but not on Google. By selecting the best channel for each product, they considerably improve RoI.
3. AdWords Labels for high converters
Web shops are willing to bid more for products that convert better. Setting a product target per product type does not achieve that.
Example: A shoe shop knew that those red high heels size 8 sell much better than those black ones size 10. Setting color and size as AdWords labels, enabled the shop owner to bid differently on both products and improve his RoI.
4. Google categories: 6 levels deep
Merchants often have all products in a few generic Google Categories (example: Software > Video Game Software). An effective optimization is to assign deep-level categories to each of their products, based on product type (example: Software > Video Game Software > All Xbox games > Xbox 360 games).
A more specific Google Category increases visibility and the traffic quality on Google Shopping and thus increases impressions and conversion rate.
5. Availability: only advertise what’s in stock
The “availability” field is mandatory and it ensures that out-of-stock-products are never advertised. Most shopping carts have a field for that, but Google accepts only four values here: in stock, available for order, out of stock and preorder.
On Magento, for example, availability will be either 0 or 1, so all Magento-merchants remap each 0 to out of stock and each 1 to in stock. Another popular re-map is using Stock Levels: Availability = out of stock if quantity = 0 and in stock if quantity > 0.
6. Variants: No way around it
Most apparel shops have Variants (example: 1 shirt in 5 different colors). Every shopping cart has a different way of presenting those variants and that’s often not the Google-way. Hence, those merchants have no other option than to find the field that links all variants and re-map it to Google’s group id.
7. AdWords Redirect: Add Tracking
Tracking the performance is key for every merchant. Even though most of them have a pretty good insight using data from AdWords and (any) Analytics software, it pays to add additional tracking code to their feed: It enables them to segment all data in one place, like Google Analytics. Google has created the “AdWords Redirect” field to add tracking code.
8. Appealing product titles
Merchants often remap product titles to ensure that their Product Listing Ads are compelling enough. Example: If the title of a product is “501”, the merchant should add “Levi’s” to it.
As a side note: merchants sometimes use this functionality to meet Google’s guidelines, by erasing exclamation marks, replacing CAPITALS and deleting promotional texts such as “Free shipping, etc.
9. Add bar codes
Adding the bar code of each product (UPC in the US, EAN in Europe) increases the conversion rate: Google now can identify each product exactly and better match products with search queries.
Example: even if a product feed for mountain bikes does not contain fields for suspension type or frame material, Google can categorize all bikes by these attributes, if they have the UPC.
10. Condition: new or used?
Web shops that only sell new products add ‘new’ as a static value in the mandatory ‘Condition’ field. Merchants with both new and used goods do a more complex remapping: They set the condition based on product type or even on certain words in the description.
DataFeedWatch is a web-app that enables merchants and agencies to map their product data feed any way they want.
DataFeedWatch is a service of WordWatch Inc. When we started managing Product Listing Ads, we quickly found out that controlling the data feed was the only way to be successful. We built a tool that enabled us to modify anything in a data feed. The performance of the PLA-campaigns soared as a result. The tool was so effective that we decided to spin it off as a separate service.
About the Research
We reviewed the feed-modifications that we did for 50 PLA-customers and investigated the effects on the performance. With multiple modifications per shop, it was not possible to attribute performance increases to individual feed optimizations, but it was quite easy to see which optimizations worked best across the board. The 10 most profitable Google Feed Optimizations is therefore not a scientific article but does reflect our experience with data feed optimization and its effects on the performance of Product Listing Ad campaigns.