Google Shopping: a guide to building campaigns for your e-commerce

Google Shopping campaigns, in Google Ads, are one of the essential tools for those who work for e-commerce.

Today I will tell you how to start from scratch.

The topic of this Post

  • 1 How does a Google Shopping campaign work?
  • 2 What are the benefits?
  • 3. What do you need to get started?
  • 4 Your first Google Shopping campaign
  • 5 The campaign settings
  • 6 Your ad group settings
  • 7 Product groups
  • 8 The announcements
  • 9 Smart Shopping Campaigns
  • 10 Hints of analysis for a Google Shopping campaign
  • 11 Google Ads Certification and Google Shopping Testing
  • 12 All that remains is to begin

How does a Google Shopping campaign work?

Let’s with the most critical question: how does Google Shopping work? As do the products of my competitor. A competitor is a company in the same sector or a similar industry that offers a similar product or service in economic jargon. Could it be… to appear in Google (and not only) with images, names, and prices, when a user does a targeted search?

The idea is all in all simple. First, e-commerce produces what is called a “pr” duct feed” (“ore on that later). A file, in essence, that contains all the valuable information to describe the products that that e-commerce sells. This is the starting point.

This product feed is passed to Google Merchant Center. This Google platform collects and organizes your product feed and makes it available to Google Ads.

Google Ads is then connected to Merchant Center so that the advertising platform can receive and interact with the product data.

Finally, in Google Ads, it is possible to create a Google Shopping campaign that uses the product feed, delivering dynamic ads.

The platform will use the product data available in Google Merchant Center (titles, descriptions, URL

Ads will be made available for various placements, including the Shopping tab in Google search, above organic search results, or in Google Images. Again, on search partner sites and GooGoogle’ssplay Network (GDN).

Sound complicated?

It probably is, but only in the early days.

The fact is that Google seems to want to keep the management of product data well separated from the creation of the campaign on the advertising platform, thus introducing a further “li” k in the chain” w” the Google Merchant Center.

This separation is functional because it allows you to focus on cleaning the feed and the approval status of the products on the one hand and the other, in Google Ads, on the creation and optimization of Shopping campaigns.

What are the benefits?

If you’ve done a Google search for a specific product (try now, for example, with “me” men’srbon bike price.

First of all, Shopping ads are oriented towards a single product, which is selected by the platform to meet the need expressed by the query. The query is usually used to indicate a user’s demand using a search engine whenever we look for something on a machine… of the user.

If I search for “me” men’s bike price,” “hopping campaign ads return imagetitlefeee-commerce name, and other relevant information such as star rating or references to free shipping. Not bad!

These ads, if clicked, lead directly to the page of the product shown, where the “ad” to cart” button is waiting for me.

Shopping ads appear above or to the side of search ads, and in a sense, they are a natural complement to them.

If a search campaign is essential to intercept searches anywhere in the funnel and requires painstaking ad construction (and a careful choice of matching options), a Shopping campaign acts in (almost) complete autonomy.

 So, for example, if you have a product listed and a user does a relevant search, they will be shown a specific ad.

With a Shopping campaign, we look for highly profiled users who can describe a product in detail.

Furthermore, an important aspect, through the reports generated by the campaigns, we can obtain a benchmark. Benchmarking is the process of measuring a company’s performance against competition and industry standards. Companies benchmark to analyze the …on the competition showing ads for products that are the same as ours.

What do you need to get started?

Before proceeding further, let summarize the basics. First, To set up your first Google Shopping campaign, you need:

  • e-commerce, with products available for direct purchase
  • a product feed, delivered independently by your site
  • a Google Merchant Center account

And then, of course, a fully configured Google Ads account, where you can start creating your campaign.

Please do not underestimate the first three points because they have their precise meaning. 

Now that you getting more familiar with the mechanics of Google Shopping campaigns, important to go into detail to understand what makes this activity effective.

Your e-commerce

To employ Google Shopping campaigns, your site must feature products that the user can purchase directly from you. No affiliate links or services.

Also, your site must be accessible in each of the languages for which you will submit your product list (the data feed). You can, of course, use more than one language, but this must match the products sent.

On the site, you must present your return and refund policy for purchased products. These references must be visible and easy to consult, explaining precisely what you expect from your customers, the cases in which you offer a return or refund, and the timing with which you will make one or the other. Of course, Google will not deal with returns or refunds, which will be entirely up to your e-commerce to manage.

Finally, you must collect and manage user data securely (but not only) through the SSL protection of the pages of your e-commerce. Again, Google details what it expects from advertisers in this regard.

The product feed.

 Feed is a file that contains all the products that your e-commerce offers, grouped through different attributes. Often the format of this file is simply a .txt or .xml format.

The methods for obtaining this file are different. For example, depending on CMSA Content Management System, often abbreviated to CMS, the software helps users create, manage, and modify a site’s contents (Prestashop or Magento, for example) official support or a special plugin may be available.

Suppose your insurance e-commerce hosts a less common or proprietary solution. In that case, your developers will need to prepare a suitable and compliant solution with the specifications required for the product feed.

Needless to deny: this is probably the one that most discourages those who are uncomfortable with the code of all the steps. However, it is best not to improvise, as it is on the quality of the feed data that Shopping campaigns will rely on delivering the ads.

To simplify this step, Google also provides some examples of product feeds in .txt and .xml formats, along with a small guide to using Google Sheets to set up product data.

Google Merchant

As we said, the role of the Merchant Center is to act as a link between your site (identified through a product feed) and the Google Ads advertising platform.

Therefore, it is essential to fully configure the account (fortunately through a largely guided path), upload the product feed, and make sure, over time. That all the products recognized by Merchant Center are the ones you want and that their information is consistent with what is reported on the site.

Upon registration, Merchant Center requires information about the business, in a particular locationname, and checkout options for the user (on your site, on Google, in your local store).

Once you have completed the registration on the platform, you realize that this particular tool is minimal. However, a simple menu on the left allows you to get an account overview, view products, or get growth tips.

In particular, the “Pr” ducts” s” section contains the most valuable information. Therefore, active (therefore usable by ads), disapproved, pending, or expiring products are shown here in a graph.

We aim for 100% approval of products uploaded to the Merchant Center. If not, and the platform detects anomalies between the data provided in the product feed and the landing page for effect on the website, problems related to the feed or the entire account will be reported, soliciting a review and temporarily suspending individual products. 

Still in the Products section, moving this time to the “Fe” d” s” section, we can upload or update our product feed. A small guided tour, in this case, will ask us to enter the country of sale, the language, and the references (the URL) to the file that contains the product information.

An important aspect to remember: the platform will constantly use the feed to keep itself aligned with e-commerce. It is therefore vital that the product feed is always available and updated.

Your first Google Shopping campaign

At this point, of course, it’s to create a Google Shopping campaign. So all the work we’ve outside of Google Ads is focused on this moment.

On the platform, the guided path that allows creating a campaign of this type is not too different from what you may have already seen for a search or display campaign.

As always, we are offered an objective choice – in our case, and we will choose sale, lead.

It is at this point, even before giving the campaign a name, that we are asked to indicate our Merchant Center account and the country of sale for the products. These two settings will no longer be editable once the campaign is created.

You will remember that every product feed uploaded to Merchant Center has a country of sale. The idea is that when you choose a country of purchase for a Shopping campaign, you allow it to advertise products referring to the correct feed.

At this time, you can also choose the campaign subtype between Standard Shopping and Smart Shopping. We will talk about the differences b/w these two subtypes later.

For now, ‘important to remember this: by choosing a standard Shopping campaign, you gain greater control over the products shown and the targeting options that make them available to users.

The campaign settings

At the campaign level, we find, as in the case of search and display campaigns, the possibility of indicating a name (which can permanently be changed) and an objective (if it was not chosen during the creation phase).

A specific feature for Shopping campaigns is the inventory filter. You see, such a campaign shows a product if it is simply present in the feed. However, sometimes the meal may contain less than ideal products.

Thus, we can act “do” stream,” “t the campaign level, advertising only products that meet specific requirements. As you can imagine, we will use the product attributes as they appear in the feed ( category, Brand is an identification symbol, trademark, logo, name, word, and phrase that companies use to distinguish their product from others. Then, a combination of product type, item ID, custom labels, and more) applies one or more filters.

Again, under “l” al products” “can enable the campaign to promote products available locally, as long as this information is available in the Merchant Center. Otherwise, the option will be present but cannot be activated.

Always at the campaign level, we can choose one of the available automatic or manual bidding strategies. For example, for a Shopping campaign, we have two automatic strategies (ROAS ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend, “re “urn on advertising investment”) “s the revenue generated by an advertising campaign minus the cost of advertising. 

It’It’spopular metric refers to a group of potential customers to whom a company wants to sell its products or services. The Target is also and Maximize Clicks ) and a single manual strategy ( manual CPC ).

For a campaign that has achieved a minimum number of recent conversions, Target ROAS is undoubtedly the most attractive choice. At the same time, Maximize Clicks, or Manual CPC is two alternatives that do not consider the economic return of the campaign, but which allow on the one hand – with Maximize clicks – a softer start to a baby campaign or account – and on the other – with manual CPC – total control of the offer for each product or product group.

A smoky option – and unjustly neglected – is given by the campaign priority, indicated as “lo” (default),” “me” mum” o” “hi” h.” “etLet’sarify one aspect immediately: the priority of the campaign has nothing to do with its efficiency. It is not some easily activated “bo” st.” “maybe.

The priority of a campaign is instead beneficial the more Shopping campaigns we activate simultaneously, which advertise the same products.

By defining a campaign with a “hi” h” p” priority – compared to the others with “me” mum” o” “lo” p” priority – we ask the platform to use the offer of this campaign to show the ad compared to the others.

It then becomes possible to create “la” ers of campaigns” (“ass me the term) with different priorities to allocate the extra budget is an estimate of income and expenses over a specific future period and is usually compiled and re-evaluated periodically. THE…, or a different offer or offer strategy, on some beautiful product sets or during promotional periods.

A standard Shopping campaign can then also be delivered to search network partners and YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery at the same time

These options can significantly increase the coverage of the campaign, and that must be considered together with the choices related to the available budget and the impression share obtained.

Of course, for a Shopping campaign, there are always settings for location, start and end date, ad rotation, IP exclusion, and campaign URL options, just like any other campaign in Google Ads.

The ad group settings

At the ad group level, you begin to realize what running a Google Shopping campaign means.

As we said, this type of campaign shows a product announcement if this is present in our e-commerce and reported in the Merchant Center. It, therefore, makes sense that Google Ads proposes a “pr” duct group” i “em in the ad group that allows us to control which products can be delivered by that group.

Furthermore, under the heading “pr” ducts” a “d “di” gnostics” w” can see in detail the list (often full-bodied) of all the products we have in our feed. The effects are reported together with the status, which indicates their correctness and availability for the campaign. 

Products not available on the site or not approved for other policy violations may be present in the feed, present in the product group managed by the campaign, but not made “ready to publish” b” Merchant Center.

You see, even if it may seem more complex than necessary, the peculiarity of a Shopping campaign is that within the ad group – a classic concept in Google Ads – there is an additional level of precision to manage, that of products with their subdivisions. 

Finally, a Shopping campaign leaves the user in control, if not precisely, over the keywords to match, at least over the negative keywords.

You can therefore indicate, as is the case with the more “cl” sic” s” arch-type campaigns, terms for which your Shopping campaign must not activate ads. I am referring to competitor brands, other stores, features, and functionalities that do not belong to your products and could make your ads less attractive.

You can observe the search terms – unfortunately not all, but only those used by a significant number of users – in the homonymous report “Se” arch Terms.” “t is a valuable source as much for receiving inspiration as for avoiding the dispersion of the campaign.

Product groups

At this point, you are wondering: “Ok,” Alex, I understand the role of the campaign. I know the meaning of ad groups. But what am I doing with product groups? “

Y “you see, with the creation of a new ad group, the managed product group within is… the one reporting all the products.

That’s ‘it’ll: “Al” products.”

“his is a sensible choice on the part of the platform, which assumes that in that one group and that one campaign, you want to deliver your entire price list, without thinking about anything else.

Still, it’s always ideal. LetLet’ske an example?

You could have e-commerce in the “ho” e and garden” n”, and your price list could be made up of barbecues as well as umbrellas from deck chairs or lawnmowers.

A single group to move all the products would not be ideal because it would give the same visibility (and assign the same offer, if you choose a manual CPC strategy) to all products without distinction.

So, here’ only the fundamental importance of product groups. Next, allow a subdivision of the entire price list using the values ​​defined in the product feed.

You can choose to break down your unique product group by brand or product type, condition, or even single item ID.

Splitting into the product group does not create a different ad group. It is simply a “re” in” t” e visibility we have for the products of that group, then deciding whether to exclude a part or not.

Once the initial group of products, called “Al” products,” “has been divided, let by brand, we can find all the brands in our list in the list, excluding some that we may consider unappetizing when offered in Shopping.

Finally, the subdivision of the initial product group allows you to detail the campaign metrics, since we no longer have only one “Al” products” r” w, but more rows for each brand, reported with its impressions, clicks, costs, Average CPC, conversions, and so on.

Half of the work that goes into a Shopping campaign is at the product group level, deducing a trend from group performance analysis, turning a group on or off, or refining the split.

The goal is always one: to make the campaign highly contextual to user searches.

The announcements

The ads available for Shopping campaigns, considering every available possibility, are summarized in three types:

  • Shopping ads for products (the most common ones)
  • Showcase Shopping ads
  • ads for locally available products

Let’s the particularities.

Product Shopping Ads

Product Shopping ads are the most common and probably the most likely to associate with a Shopping campaign. As I wrote at the beginning, they contain an image, a title, a price, and the name of your e-commerce, along with other helpful information to guide the users.

Google is continually experimenting with the performance of Product Shopping ads, both from desktop and mobile, so once again, having clean product data, such as high-quality images with a white background, focused headlines, and good readability, is essential.

Product Shopping ads are billed according to the familiar CPC, or Cost-Per-Click. You are charged when the user clicks on the ad.

Showcase Shopping Ads

Showcase Shopping Ads allow you to group different products to show them together, to present a selection in front of slightly more general queries (such as “racing bike”).” When a user clicks on a showing ad, it shows products deemed relevant to the search.

The cost of these ads is calculated through CPE or Cost-Per-Engagement. You are charged when a user expands the ad, keeps it broadened for at least 10 seconds, or clicks on the ad (the first of the two actions is the one that triggers the charge).

Showcase Shopping ads are only available in select countries.

Ads for locally available products

Ads for locally available products, as the name might suggest, show information about products that the user can purchase by going to the nearest local store in person.

When the user clicks on such an ad, they are redirected to a page, managed by Google, called a “lo” al showcase.” “n this page, users can find out the information necessary to proceed with the purchase, such as the address of the store and opening hours.

Local inventory ads are only available in certain countries and for select advertisers.

Smart Shopping Campaigns

We briefly mentioned “sm” rt” S” opping campaigns. These differ significantly from standard drives, clearly simplifying the management of the activity, automating offers, and introducing remarketing logic on the Google display network.

This is, in effect, machine learning at full power. The platform receives the product feed for a standard Shopping campaign. It uses the assets defined within it (titles, images, and so on) to establish which offer to make. Then, it automatically created the ad, in which of the many available placements, to reach the desired results.

A Smart Shopping campaign specifically requires conversion tracking with transaction-specific values (i.e., with an active and verified tracking tag).

Furthermore, precisely because remarketing tactics come into play, an audience with at least 100 active users must be present on the account. Finally, you can use the Google Ads tag or connect the platform to Google Analytics, receiving an audience from the latter.

By its very nature, this particular type of campaign sets the bid to maximize the value. 

The possibility of choosing which products to deliver to the campaign remains available at the product group level through the breakdown by brand, product type, custom label, and other information provided in the product feed.

An important aspect, which is often not remembered, is that a Google Shopping campaign has priority (read: it is activated preferentially) over other “standard” S” opping campaigns that move for the same products and other remarketing display campaigns. It is good to remember this to avoid interference between multiple drives.

Likewise, it is imperative that the remarketing segment remains active and constantly populated by new users. By detecting an audience issue, the campaign may limit or suspend impressions.

Ads for Smart Shopping campaigns

Unlike ads for standard campaigns, ads for ‘smart shopping campaigns’ are made up of assets, much like the case for responsive ads for the display network.

The assets required for the ads are:

  • A horizontal image
  • A little text
  • A short title of up to 25 characters
  • A long title of up to 90 characters
  • A destination URL
  • A logo is a symbol consisting of text and images that identify a company. A good logo shows what a company does and what it stands for … for your business (optional, if already uploaded to Merchant Center)

Google will use these assets for the ads shown on the display network in remarketing. It will move as it already happens for “st “standard” c” campaigns for placements where it will use product ads.

Hints of analysis for a Google Shopping campaign

So, after reading this article, you’ve ten to your site and opened a Merchant Center account, configured your feed, and created your first Shopping campaign, standard or intelligent. Now the first data arrives. So, how to start an analysis phase?

Shopping campaigns, at least standard ones, do not differ significantly from a search campaign when it comes to data analysis; I’mI’mferring to some metrics that you probably already know are valuable even when your campaign shows product ads.

In particular:

  • The impression share
  • The lost impression share
  • The click share

A Shopping campaign can quickly match (several) thousands of queries every day, the larger your list and the different types of products it hosts. Therefore, even in this case, it is essential that the campaign is correctly calibrated and has the right expectations concerning the targeting options and the available budget.

Put another way: if you have a list of 5,000 products, it makes little sense to create a campaign across, assign it € 10 / day, and expect conversions in decent numbers. This campaign will likely be so throttled that it will show one ad for every hundred attractive queries.

Here then, is that the share impressions are precious. The percentage of times your ad was shown out of all queries it could have. Our goal is to convert, let’s understand. However, the impression share can bring essential data regarding the campaign’s ability to cover existing demand.

Likewise, lost impression shares due to budget or ranking in SEO; 

Ranking refers to the order of search engines such as Google. Get a good scale for relevant keywords for …. How many of the impressions you might have gotten are you not getting due to a lack of budget or poor ad quality?

Again, the click share or the number of clicks (received on the search network) is divided by the maximum number of clicks you could have. A vital signal to understand if there is still something to do regarding targeting settings, budget, bid strategy, and – especially for a Shopping campaign – product data quality.

Are these all the metrics you should consider for your Shopping campaign? Not at all. They are the starting point. Important metrics to understand on what basis the first conversions are arriving (or not arriving).

Google Ads certification and Google Shopping test

As for the other types of campaigns, the Google Shopping campaign test is available on the Google Skillshop platform, which allows you to access (if completed together with the one on the basic principles of the forum) the Google Ads certification.

Certification is invaluable for agencies and professionals who work in Google Merchant Center and Google Shopping daily to demonstrate the skills acquired.

The test covers aspects related to the creation and management of the Merchant Center, the design and refinement of the product feed, the result of Google Shopping campaigns, and the optimization of the offer.

The test of 63 multiple choice questions, to be completed in a maximum time of 90 minutes and with several correct answers equal to or greater than 80%. The test is available in several languages, including Italian, and in case of failure, it can be repeated after 24 hours.

All that remains is to start.

Building Google Shopping campaigns can be intimidating, that hat’s sure. However, when you get close to them, you find that every gear of this complex machine fulfills a specific purpose, allowing us priceless control and efficiency to expose our e-commerce products to the next potential customer. All that remains is to start.

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