Google has announced that all retailers have until late August to transition their current Product Listing Ad (PLA) campaigns to the recently released Shopping campaigns format. After the transition date, Google will automatically force all remaining PLA campaigns into the new format without optimization or input from the retailer. Join us here each week for our ongoing Shape Up Your Shopping Campaigns series, as we count down to August and help you prepare for the switch. Be sure to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have along the way.
After a couple of weeks of testing, you should be equipped with valuable information about the health of your Shopping campaigns. And at this point, it’s completely normal if some of your product groups appear to need some help. Remember, while the PLAs still look the same to consumers on the Google results page, the structure behind them has changed. Even if your test groups are performing as expected, there are likely steps you can take to improve their ROI.
When campaigns are underperforming, metrics like click-through rate and conversion rate act as “check engine” lights. And sometimes, something as simple as adjusting a bid will be the exact tune-up needed to fix the issue. But how do you know where to begin?
Google’s New Benchmark Tools
With the introduction of Shopping campaigns, Google released a new set of competitive benchmark tools that allow you to compare your performance with that of your competitors. Seeing how you stack up against other retailers can help you identify potential areas of improvement, even in places you didn’t know needed help.
And because Google requires a couple of weeks’ worth of data before you can use these tools, you’re at the perfect point to try them out. Here’s a quick rundown of each tool:
Impression Share: This tool lets you see the percentage of impressions you received out of the total impressions you’re eligible to receive. In other words, it shows what share of the pie you own. If your impression share is low, we recommend raising your bid.
Benchmark Max Cost Per Click (CPC): Benchmark CPC provides insight into how much other advertisers are bidding on products similar to those in your product group. Are your bids competitive enough? Are you allocating too many dollars to certain product groups? With this tool, you’ll have a clearer understanding of where your dollars need to go. It’s important to note, though, that these are estimates based on product type and not actual SKUs. So use this information as a general guide and understand that your actual products may perform differently.
Benchmark Click-Through Rate (CTR): This tool lets you compare your CTR to the rates of your competitors with similar products. If your CTR is comparatively low, you might need to improve the data in your feed or increase your bids. Low CTR can also indicate that your ads are showing up for the wrong types of queries. Check your search queries and consider incorporating negative keywords as a remedy.
Remember, you should always monitor any changes closely to determine effectiveness. It could take multiple attempts or a combination of solutions to improve performance.
Now that you have some test data and the tools to help pinpoint areas of improvement, you can begin to adjust your expectations (and more important, your boss’s expectations) for your new campaign. And as you unpause the remaining product groups in the coming weeks, you’ll have a better grasp on how they should perform.
The final piece of the puzzle is a big one: budget. Are you going to have enough to meet expectations? You now know what the competitors are bidding for similar products. That’s great. But you also need a better understanding of what changing your budget for different campaigns will do to performance. Google has a new tool that could help with that, too.
Bid Simulator: If you’re considering increasing or decreasing bids for product groups, this feature can help you see how those different bids could affect your clicks, costs and impressions. The Bid Simulator estimates what the results could have been over the previous seven days of your campaign at different bid levels. Because it uses factors such as your ad quality, competitive bidding and product attribute data, the Bid Simulator typically requires at least a couple weeks of data.
You’re now almost ready to unpause your remaining product groups. Check back next week, when we’ll show you how to apply what you’ve learned to the rest of the campaign. Until then, keep track of your progress with our Shape Up Your Shopping Campaigns Roadmap.