Table Of Contents3 letter from the president By Pat East, CEO of Hanapin Marketing4 The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds By Christina Hall17 Product Listing Ad Optimizations in AdWords By Jeff Allen26 Strategy and Analysis For PLAs By Amanda West-BookwalterABOUTHanapin Marketing is a paid search agency based in Bloomington, Indiana.Founded in 2004, the company manages and optimizes clients’ paid searchprograms. From ad copy composition to keyword research to landing pageoptimization, Hanapin’s core objective is to maximize our clients’ return oninvestment. Hanapin Marketing publishes the industry leading blog,PPC Hero.
33Letter fromthe presidentAbout the PresidentPat East is the President andCEO of Hanapin Marketing.By Pat East, President and CEO of Hanapin MarketingIf you get the sense that PPC management getsmore complex with every ad network update ornew feature — even those meant to make thingseasier — you’re not alone. That feeling is exactlywhy we feel it’s important to provide thisquarterly update. We’re constantly reviewing thetrends of the paid search industry and its adnetworks, which gives us a sense of where thingsare right now, where they’re going, and whatpeople need to know to remain competitive andrelevant.That knowledge often coalesces into a criticalmass that calls for a deep dive into a particularsubject, and this quarter’s Compass answersthat call. The articles in this Compass delivera thorough examination of the Product ListingAds (PLAs) feature in Google’s AdWordsnetwork.Every step is explored in detail, fromsetup to optimization.Whether you’re just getting started oryou’ve been running PLAs for a longtime, there should be something foreveryone in these pages.We love to see our clients and innovativecolleagues enjoy continued success intheir paid search efforts, and we enjoyproviding this type of industry leadershipto you. On behalf of our entire team hereat Hanapin, thank you for reading ourlatest version of the Compass!
The Dos and Don’ts ofSetting Up and OptimizingProduct FeedsBy Christina HallData feed definition and formatsGoogle defines a data feed as “a filemade up of a list of products whichuse groupings of attributes that defineeach one of a merchant’s products in aunique way.”By describing your products using theseattributes, users can search and findyour products more easily. One of thefirst important decisions you’ll make ischoosing the format of the data feed.The format needs to be selected accord-ing to your needs as a merchant as wellas your ability to create the file. Googlesupports data feeds in two general for-mats: text (.txt) and XML (.xml).The text file formatSmaller merchants will likely prefer touse a .txt format, as it requires the leasttechnical knowledge and can easily becreated by using a spreadsheet editor,such as Excel or a Google Doc.The screenshot below shows thespreadsheet version of a product feed.Attribute names need to be included asheaders in the first row, while the rowsthereafter describe your items accordingto the attributes. When done adding allthe products and corresponding attri-butes to the feed, the file needs to besaved as a tab-delimited file.While many ecommerce websites are already utilizing Product Listing Ads (PLAs), it isvery important to understand the “dos and don’ts” of how to set up a product feed andoptimize it accordingly—particularly in the light of the change from product listing ads toGoogle Shopping ads.The advantage of this file format is that it is simple to create and edit as long as you havea spreadsheet program. It is also easier to view multiple items. However, one majordisadvantage is that it is easier to make formatting mistakes.
55The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)Besides declaring the Google Merchant Center namespace (see yellow highlighting),a prefix within every attribute tag must be added to distinguish attributes from elementsdefined in RSS 2.0. Without the prefix, all the attributes and values would be ignored.Atom 1.0-based data feeds differ from RSS 2.0 feeds in that they require five pre-definedelements at the entry level—title, id, link, summary, and updated.The XML file formatFor more technically advanced merchants, the data feed can also be submitted as anextended version of RSS 2.0 or Atom 1.0. These files can be created and edited usingany text editor.When using RSS 2.0, there are three pre-defined elements at the item level: title, link,and description—all three are required for product data feeds.In order to include additional required elements as well as more detailed informationabout each product, Google extended RSS 2.00 by adding the Google MerchantCenter feed namespace.Below is an example of a basic RSS 2.0 document for a single item:<?xml version="1.0"?><rss version="2.0"xmlns:g="http://base.google.com/ns/1.0"><channel><title>The name of your data feed</title> <link>http://www.example.com</link> <descrip-tion>A description of your content</description> <item> <title>Red wool sweater</title><link> http://www.example.com/item1-info-page.html</link> <description>Comfortable andsoft, this sweater will keep you warm on those cold winter nights.</description><g:image_link>http://www.example.com/image1.jpg</g:image_link> <g:price>25</g:price><g:condition>new</g:condition><g:id>1a</g:id></item></channel></rss>
The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)To be able to include additional required elements as well as more detailed informationon products, Google also extended Atom 1.0 and added the Google Merchant Centernamespace.Here is an example of a basic Atom 1.0 document containing a single item:<?xml version=”1.0”?><feed xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom”xmlns:g=”http://base.google.com/ns/1.0”><title>The name of your data feed</title><link href=”http://www.example.com” rel=”alternate” type=”text/html” /> <updat-ed>2006-06-11T18:30:02Z</updated><author> <name>Google</name> </author><id>tag:example.com,2006-06-11:/support/products</id><entry><title>Red wool sweater</title><id>1a</id><link href=”http://www.example.com/item1-info-page.html” /> <summary>Comfortable andsoft, this sweater will keep you warm on those cold winter nights.</summary><updated>2005-10-13T18:30:02Z</updated><g:image_link>http://www.google.com/images/google_sm.gif</g:image_link> <g:-price>25</g:price><g:condition>new</g:condition></entry></feed>As with RSS 2.0, the Google Merchant Center namespace declaration (see yellowhighlighting) and a prefix within every attribute tag are required, or any attributes and valueswill be ignored.Google also recommends running through a checklist to ensure that the file is properlyformatted:1. Filename must end with the .xml extension2. The feed filename you register in your Google Merchant Center account must match thename you assign to your file.
773. Remember to include namespace declarations. These values should match exactly asshown: RSS 2.0: xmlns:g=http://base.google.com/ns/1.0 and xmlns:c-http://base.google.com/cns/1.0 and Atom 1.0: xmlns:g=http://base.google.com/ns/1.0 and xmlns:c=”http://base.google.com/cns/1.0”4. Verify the prefix included in the Google Merchant Center and Custom Google MerchantCenter attribute tags matches the prefix defined in the namespace declaration.5. Remove attributes that do not contain any values.Product Feed SpecificationsThe screenshot below shows an overview of required and recommended attributes thatneed to be included in the data feed before it can be uploaded to Google Merchant Center.As the screenshot shows, some attributes are required, while others are recommended.Items like clothing/apparel or media might also need additional attributes.• If you do not include required attributes for anitem, that item will not show up in Google Shop-ping results.• If you do not include any of the recommendedattributes for an item, that item will show up lessfrequently in Google Shopping results.It is also important to understand that item refers to a single variation of a product as aproduct might come in multiple variations – different color, material, pattern, or size.Required attributes:• ID: Each item has to have a unique identifier and the ID cannot be re-used betweenfeeds.• Title: This describes your item, so include any characteristics such as color or brandto differentiate your item form others. The title can be up to 70 characters long.• Description: Use up to 10,000 characters to include further information about youritem. Be aware that this is displayed in the shopping search results.• Product type: This field categorizes the category of the product submitted. You canThe Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)Tip:For a detailed list of attri-bute requirements, visit: http://support.google.com/merchants/bin/answer.py?hl=en&an-swer=188494#US
The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)either use Google’s category taxonomy or your own classification.• Link: This is the URL that links directly to your product.• Image link: This attribute will display an image of your item. The accepted image formats areGIF, JPG (or JPEG), PNG, BMP, and TIF.• Condition: The condition attribute lets the buyer know if your item is ‘new,’ ‘refurbished’ or‘used.’• Availability: This attribute declares whether your item is ‘in stock’, ‘available for order’, ‘out ofstock’ or ‘preorder’.• Price: The price attribute needs to contain the most prominent price on the landing page andmust include a currency according to the ISO 4217 Standard.• Brand: This needs to be the brand name of the item, not the store name, unless the product ismanufactured by that store.• GTIN: This is the Global Trade Item Number for the specific item.• MPN: This is the Manufacturer Part Number of the item, and it identifies the product to its man-ufacturer and specifies each item.• Gender/age group/color/size: This is required for apparel products.• Tax: This attribute is only accepted in the US and can be used to override any merchant-levelsettings in your Google Merchant Center account.• Shipping: Provide specific shipping estimates for your items or override the shipping settingsyou submitted in your Google Merchant Center account.• Shipping weight: This attribute is required if you set up a shipping rule in the Merchant Centerthat is based on weight.• Item group ID: This is required for all variant apparel products in the US.• Color: This defines the dominant color of an item but multiple colors can be added by using a‘/’ in order of prominence.• Material: This attribute describes the material or fabric that an item is made out of.• Pattern: Pattern or graphic print featured on your item.• Size: Specific size of your product.Additional attributes:• Google product category: This attribute is recommended as long as it is not required tofurther describe your item by category.• Additional image link: Any images that show your product/item from a different angle, imagesof packaging or variants of the product.• Sale price: This attribute shows the advertised sale price of the item and is recommended foritems that are on sale.
99The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)• Sale price effective date: This is used in conjunction with the sale price attribute andindicates the date range that applies to the sale price.• Adwords grouping: This attribute groups products in an arbitray way. It can only hold onevalue and can be used with CPC or CPA bidding.• Adwords labels: This attribute only works with CPC bidding but can hold multiple values.• Adwords redirect: This attribute allows advertisers to specify a separate URL that can beused to track traffic coming from Google Shopping.• Gender/age/size: While these attributes are required for all apparel items, it might also makesense to include it for any other items to further describe your products.• Color: This attribute describes your items by color.• Online only: This attributes clarifies whether an item is available for purchase only online.• Excluded destination: By default your items appear in Google Commerce Search or GoogleShopping.• Expiration date: This attribute shows the date that an item listing will expire.Uploading your data feedOnce you have successfully created your data feed, it is time to upload it to your MerchantCenter account. All you have to do is the following:1. Sign into your Merchant Center account.2. Go to Data Feeds > New Data Feed.3. Choose the country in which you want your products to display (if you want to target differentcountries, you have to submit a feed for each individual country as some countries havedifferent attribute requirements).
The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)4. Choose Googlebase as the format and enter a name for your .txt file.5. Save your changes, then go to “manual upload” to upload your feed.Once you have uploaded your feed, Google will process and test your feed.Depending on the size of your file, it may take a while toprocess the feed. You can check back on the status of yourdata feed upload by clicking on the dashboard in theGoogle Merchant Center. A linked status will appear nextto your file. Just click on this link, which will give you detailsabout the feed validation. It will show any errors that needto be fixed before you can upload your feed again.To review the quality of your data feed, go to the Products link in the left navigation bar withinMerchant Center. This page displays the status of each product and will display up to 10,000products randomly. If you have more than 10,000 products and want to see the status of specificproducts, you have to search for their status.Tip:It may take up to 24 hours foryour products to start ap-pearing in Google Shoppingresults.
1111The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)Automating the Process: Feed Schedules and Upload FormatsOnce you have uploaded the feed, it is scheduled to expire after 30 days. In order for yourproducts to continue showing in Google Shopping results, you need to re-upload your feed.You can also upload your feed on a daily basis or as frequently as your products or priceschange.While manual feed uploads are easy and usually don’t take a lot of time (processing the feed,however, may take longer depending on the size of your feed), you can also create aschedule to have your feed uploaded automatically without having to worry about it.To accomplish this, click “create schedule” in your data feed overview, and the followingwindow will appear:Just fill it out with thedesired frequency, timingand location of your feed.Then click “schedule” tocomplete the set upprocess.This upload methodrequires the size of yourfile to be less than 1gigabyte, and theuser-agent
The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)“googlebot” cannot be blocked from the directory containing your feed. Moreover, the feedURL has to point directly to the data feed file in one of Google’s supported file formats.Important: The URL of your file location must begin with http://, https://, ftp://, or sftp://Google SpreadsheetData feeds can also be submitted via Google Spreadsheets. For this option, either use theexisting template that Google provides or submit a Google spreadsheet that you createdyourself:• Click on new data feed and provide the target country, format and data feed file name• Check the checkbox next to “I want to use Google spreadsheet” to store, edit and uploadyour feed.• Either upload your data by generating a template feed or by using an existing Googlespreadsheet that contains all of your product information.The spreadsheet must be viewable to everyone with a link. The advantage of this option isthat it is simple to create and to update as content is uploaded directly from the informationgiven in the spreadsheet. However, this format cannot be used to upload a large volume ofdata: no files larger than 20MB.FTPFTP is an advanced method to submit data feeds to Google Merchant Center. This formathas to be used for files larger than 20MB. The file also needs to be smaller than one gigabyte.If your file is larger than one gigabyte, you can split it up and upload it in several parts.To use FTP, go to the Settings link in your Merchant Center account and click FTP:
1313The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)Enter a username and password for the FTP account and click Save Changes. It may takeseveral hours before the account creation takes effect. Also, once the FTP account iscreated, the chosen username cannot be changed.There are three methods for submitting your file via FTP:• FTP your data feed using a web browser: - Open a browser window - Type ftp://uploads.google.com and click enter - Enter your FTP username and password, then select log on - Drag and drop your feed into the browser window and wait for the file to transfer. Once the icon for the file appears in the browser window, your file is uploaded.• FTP your data feed using an FTP program: - You need an FTP program installed on your computer to use this method. The client will need to be configured so that you can connect to Google’s FTP server: • Host name: uploads.google.com • User: the FTP username you set up in Google Merchant Center • Password: the FTP password you set up in Google Merchant Center • Logontype: it should be set to normal, not anonymous.• FTP your data feed using a DOS prompt - You can send your feed using DOS command prompt without having to use a FTP client: - From the Start menu, select Programs, then select MS-DOS Prompt, or from the Start menu, select Programs, then select Accessories, then select Command Prompt - When the black prompt screen appears, use ‘cd’ to get to the directory of your file is saved in. - Type in ftp uploads.google.com - When the FTP connection is made, the prompt will ask for your username. Enter the FTP username of your Google Merchant Center account. - Next enter your password, which you set up in Google Merchant Center. - Type put <filename>. This command will send the file from your computer to Google’s FTP server. - After you get the “transfer complete” acknowledgement, you are done.
The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)Google Cloud StorageDevelopers can also use Google Cloud Storage to submit products to MerchantCenter. However, some technical know-how and experience in programming applicationsis a must for this method.Google Cloud Storage is similar to an FTP server—you submit and access files with a filetransfer client. Once you set up your Merchant Center account with Google CloudStorage, Google automatically assigns a private bucket for your shopping data. Thebenefits of using this service are the enhanced security, you can have files up to 10gigabytes in size, and you have a flexible infrastructure that can be used for otherapplications as well.Submitting your product feed via Google Cloud Storage:1. Link your Google Cloud Storage and Merchant Center accounts. a. Go to Settings > Google Cloud Storage in Merchant Center account b. Select either Current user, or Different user with your Google Cloud Storage login email address. c. Once you click on Link Google Cloud Storage, you will automatically be assigned a bucket for your product data listed under Google Cloud Storage bucket name.2. Prepare your data feeds: a. Create your data feed: http://support.google.com/merchants/bin/answer. py?hl=en&answer=187892 b. Register your data feed in Merchant Center before submitting the feed.3. Submit data feeds via Google Cloud Storage: a. Use either gsutil or gs python library to schedule uploads or most S3-compatible clients.4. Verify your submission.Feed Performance and OptimizationsOnce the product feed is created, it has been uploaded to Google Merchant Centerwithout any errors and has been running for a few days, the optimization process ofyour feed begins.Besides constantly monitoring your data feed for errors, you should also ensure ahigh-quality shopping experience for your customers. This can be achieved by accurately
1515The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)describing all of your items, updating the status of your products on the website at all times,and complying with Google’s Shopping policies.While most advertisers would now stop and focus on building out their Product Listing Adscampaign in Google and optimizing the product ads within AdWords, the product feed needsto be constantly optimized as well to guarantee a strong overall performance.Just like your approach to website/content/ad copy optimization, product feed optimizationincludes incorporating keyword research and testing different product images, titles anddescriptions.The most important attributes to focus on tend to be the following:• Product type attributeThis attribute classifies your product. So you probably want to closely match the organizationof products on your website. However, it is also important to choose a powerful descriptionto reach the highest potential of traffic but with the least competition. So for example if youwere a clothing retailer, you want to research whether it is best to use “clothing”, “clothes” or“apparel” to classify your products.• Title and description attributesThe text of the title attribute will be shown on the general search results and Shopping resultspages. The description will only be shown on the Shopping results page. So first of all, youhave to make sure that your title and description is consistent with the image of your product.Secondly, make sure that it includes an exact description of the product you are offering.Include trends, holidays, or other current events in your description to gain an advantage overyour competitors. The titles and descriptions need to also fit within Google’s character limits.• Image attributeThis is a very important attribute that often gets overlooked. To ensure an excellent customerexperience, the image needs to exactly match the product that users are looking for, down tothe color, size, material, etc. You may also want to use unique product images in case you areselling the same product as one or more of your competitors. Just as you would testdifferent ad copy in AdWords, also test different images and build on the results you see.These tests need to be performed on a regular basis to keep your product feed freshand attractive to customers.
The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up and Optimizing Product Feeds (Continued)As a rule of thumb, it is important that the customer who clicks through to your website seesthe same product information (price, availability, etc.) as is presented in your Google Shop-ping results.Google provides the following tips to ensure fresh data:• Create or update your product feed right after you updated your database.• Submit your feed to Google at the same time as you update your website.• If you update your website multiple times per day, also submit your feed multiple timesper day.• Try to minimize the amount of time that your data is being processed, if you are using athird party feed provider.• Make sure that any scheduled feed fetch from your server happens at the same time asyour website is updated.• Use the Content API for Shopping if your product information changes very frequentlysuch that four updates per day are not enough to meet quality standards.ConclusionSome aspects of managing your PLA feed can be complicated, but the guiding principle issimple: Providing as many relevant attributes as you can and keeping your product feed upto date allows Google to show the most relevant products to customers, and thus will lead tomore product sales for you.
1717Product Listing AdOptimizations in AdWordsBy Jeff AllenAlthough the optimization options inAdWords are sometimes limited, theycan be essential to the success of thePLA campaign as a whole. Justremember: The Product Listing Adsshould be a separate campaign fromall other search and display networkcampaigns in the account. This lets youestablish different settings and budgetsfor PLAs and track PLA-specificperformance metrics.There should be an “All Products” adgroup as well as product categoriesseparated by ad groups in the PLAcampaign. Product feed data has beenreviewed and is accurate and up-to-date.Product TargetsAn “All Products” product target iscreated by default when initiallycreating the campaign as well as whenadding new ad groups to the campaign.It is a best practice to set up an AllProducts product target as it targets allof the products in the Merchant Centerproduct feed, and it can feature anyproducts on Google Search and/orGoogle Shopping that are not coveredby the product-specific ad groups.However, it is also recommended toadd separate ad groups for productgroups/categories defined by using theattributes that are set up in AdWordsand Merchant Center accounts.Product Listing Ad (PLA) campaign optimizations don’t end with simply creating aPLA campaign in AdWords. In fact, setting up a PLA campaign is just the beginning.Once you give the campaign some time to gather relevant data, you can startoptimizing for better results.
Product Listing Ad Optimizations in AdWords(Continued)AdWords gives you the following attributes by which you can segment your products:These categories help you to define your products in a unique way, and they come inhandy to organize your campaigns with any one attribute or a combination thereof.Moreover, by adding AdWords labels and/or AdWords grouping attributes to the productfeed, products can be defined in customized groupings/labels. With PLAs in AdWordsbeing automatically generated and targeted based on the data and feeds set up inMerchant Center, product targets or filters need to be exactly matched to the attributeswithin the Merchant Center account. You can check this in the AdWords account byfollowing these steps:1. Navigate to the Auto Targets tab of the PLA campaign:2. Select the product target within an ad group and click validate:
1919Product Listing Ad Optimizations in AdWords(Continued)This will tell you if your product target is valid and can be targeted via AdWords.Another best practice is to create a separate ad group for each product target to gainmaximum visibility into search queries triggering each product target.Bidding StrategyDo you want to bid on different brands, conditions or product types? While ad groupbids need to continually be adjusted just like keyword or placement bids in usualsearch and display campaigns, it is recommended to set the “All Products” ad groupbid lower than the product-specific ad group bids in the PLA campaign. This is toensure that product-specific ad groups will be shown rather than the All Products adgroup. The All Products ad group is, however, in place to feature any products thatare not covered by the product-specific ad groups.When using maximum CPC bidding, set the samemax CPC bid that is used for existing ads of thesame product category. Monitor it to see how theProduct Listing Ads perform and adjust the bidsaccordingly. Just as with keyword bids, PLA bidscan be changed as often as you like. The key is toexperiment with it and monitor the results thatincreased bids or decreased bids have on the PLAs.MessagingSeparate producttarget ad groups alsoallow for product-specific promotionalmessaging:Tip:Bids for the best performingproducts, however, should beincreased to influence Google’sdecision on showing theseproducts more often.
Product Listing Ad Optimizations in AdWords(Continued)Although it is optional to enter apromotion for your ad group, it ishighly recommended to further makeyour products stand out from othermerchants. Compared to a text ad, thispromotion is limited to the call to actionthat highlights anything special thatapplies to all of the products that aretargeted in a particular ad group.This promotion should be used as an“actionable alert for customers” to getthem to make a purchase on your site.With this being said, it is important thatthe promotional message is true for allthe products in an ad group and that itis updated on a regular basis aspromotions tend to change over time.The ad is limited to 45 characters, butit gives you the opportunity to highlightthe unique selling point of your productthat differentiates it from the competi-tive products on the market. However,keyword insertion won’t work withthis promotional ad or the productinformation text provided dynamicallyfrom the Merchant Center account. Ifyou are running more than one specialat a time, you can always addadditional promotions to your ad group.This is a good strategy for testing howdifferent promotions affect the CTR andconversion rate as well.Performance DataAd group organization should allow foran easy view of performance data thatis helpful to the business. Forexample, if you sell both new andvintage products, organize them bybrand and condition. This will help youquickly see the conversion volume,conversion rate and other importantperformance data for each ad group.Based upon ad group performance,bids might be changed or there maybe an obvious need to test differentproduct targeting. Nevertheless, with atoo-granular set up of your ad groups,data can become meaningless. So itis recommended to use up to threeproduct targets per ad group and to usedistinguished descriptions for each ofthe ad groups.Tip:You want your ad groupmeasurements to bestatistically significant —to achieve this, usemultiple product targetsper ad group.
2121Product Listing Ad Optimizations in AdWords(Continued)You can always use the Merchant Center page in AdWords to review productinformation as well. On the Merchant Center page you have read-only access to theproduct data for all of the Merchant Center accounts that are linked to the AdWordsaccount. Click the Tools and Analysis drop-down menu and then navigate to GoogleMerchant Center. A table with the following columns will appear:• Merchant Center Store Name: All the Merchant Center stores that are linked to theAdWords account.• Total Active Items in Product Ads: The number of active products in each MerchantCenter store. Active stands for all products that have been submitted and wereaccepted.By clicking on the link for each store name, a site with more detailed productinformation will open up:• The “Data health” graphs shows whether the products are eligible to appear or arecurrently appearing in product ads. This graph displays the number of products thatare active, awaiting review, or are disapproved.• The “Data feeds” table lists the most-recently updated data feeds, including the dataand status of the most recent upload.• The “Data quality signals” table shows whether there are any errors with the data
Product Listing Ad Optimizations in AdWords(Continued)On the products tab, a table with a list of all the products that are in the MerchantCenter account will appear. It shows information about the condition of the product,language of the product as well as whether a product is eligible to appear in theproduct ads.This is what each symbol means:• Green check mark: The product is active and eligible to appear in the product ads• Yellow hourglass: The product is being reviewed to ensure it complies with policies• Red circle: The product has been disapprovedFiltering the products by their statuses by making a selection from the “status”drop-down menu will give more insights into whether a product is active (“active”),whether it has been processed and is eligible to appear (“searchable”), or whether itis under review or has been disapproved (“inactive” for both).For further information on a product, click on the link for the product. The followingscreen will open up and reveal additional information on the URL, technical detailsabout the product and data feed, and any product attributes that have been added toMerchant Center:
2323Product Listing Ad Optimizations in AdWords(Continued)This information is useful to check attributes of various products and optimizeaccordingly in the PLA AdWords campaign. Moreover, recommendations can bemade to improve product feed data as well.KeywordsProduct Listing Ads do not use traditional keywords, so you don’t need to worry aboutcreating a keyword list. Nevertheless, most people forget about negative keywords.Once enough data has been gathered, run a search query report and use keywordresearch and common sense to build a negative keyword list for your PLAs. Theprocess of running a search query report for PLAs is quite similar to any othercampaign. The search query report can either be generated on the keywords tab orthe auto targets tab:1.Select the PLA campaign and go to either the keywords tab or the auto targets tab.
Product Listing Ad Optimizations in AdWords(Continued)2. Click on the “Keyword Details” drop-down and select “All”:Once completed, you can get some insights in the search queries used to trigger theproduct listing ads. Based on this keyword data, you can implement the followingoptimizations:• Adjust ad group level bids based on cost, average CPC, and conversion data• Add search queries as negative keywords to filter out any irrelevant queries that aregenerating costs, but no conversions• Add keyword phrases to your product feed that are converting, but do not appear inyour feed yetProduct FiltersProduct filters restrict which products from the Merchant Center account appear withads. By adding product filters to the PLA campaign, ad groups can be further defined.But remember, Product Listing Ads and product extensions share the same productfeed data at the campaign level. Therefore, if a product filter is added to the PLAcampaign, it applies to both the product extensions and the Product Listing Ads.Here’s how to add a product filter:1. Navigate to the campaign where you want to add product filters2. Select the Ad Extensions tab and then select Product Extensions from thedrop-down menu3. If a Merchant Center account is already associated with the campaign, click on itsentry to edit it. Otherwise, click “new extension” to begin.
2525Product Listing Ad Optimizations in AdWords(Continued)4. Check the Filter box in the panel that appears5. Select up to 10 “OR” statements as requirements to determine which products fromthe feed are eligible to appear in ads in the campaign. Up to five conditions withineach “OR” statement can also be specified.Note:The values entered in the conditions must match the Merchant Center feed attributesexactly, or the conditions will not match any products, and Product Listing Ads will notbe served for this campaign.ConclusionDepending on the data feed and how often products are being updated, added orremoved, always remember to update your product targets in the PLA campaign aswell.Be sure to regularly review your bids, the promotional text, and the validation of yourproduct targets to ensure smooth performance with your PLA campaigns goingforward. And don’t forget to add negative keywords to the PLA campaign to keep yourPLAs from showing up for irrelevant queries.Following these guidelines will ensure the long-term performance of your PLAs andallow you to focus on the more specific optimizations discussed above.
Strategy and AnalysisFor PLAsBy Amanda West-BookwalterOnce you have all of therequirements for creating ProductListing Ads (PLAs), such as theGoogle Merchant Center account andan error-free data feed, and you’veset up your initial campaign, the nextpart to a successful Product Listing Adinitiative is strategy development.Of course, after you have a strategy,you’ll also need to test, analyze, anddevelop new strategies based on youranalysis results. This article will coverall of these vital parts of your ProductListing Ads initiative.There are several strategies you canemploy for your PLAs. Picking theproper strategy, as with anything, willdepend entirely upon unique factorssuch as the vertical of your company,your existing goals, etc.TargetingThe most important thing, which I willreiterate throughout this article whendiscussing targeting, is to target by thedifferences that make performancechange. For instance, if you findperformance is about the same foreach brand of dog food you sell, buteach brand name is different from allof your other brand names, then youshould target by this attribute.I’ll go through some of the moresuccessful and most commonlyuseful targeting strategies to beginwith, and hopefully you’ll find one thatmatches your needs or couldbe altered slightly to match them.Set up targets by brandIf you sell items that have differentbrands, and you see differentperformance by brand, this is a greatoption for you. You will want to setup an ad group for each brand, andwithin that ad group, set up a targetfor each brand. Start with a safeminimum bid. I normally judge thisbased on what I’m comfortablepaying in my Search campaigns. Ifmy average cost-per-click is $.75in my Search campaigns, I will startwith that as my Max CPC in newprograms like Product Listing Ads.During the Analysis section, I’ll focuson how to tell you need to changeyour bids in these campaigns.
2727Set up targets by product typeIf you sell many different product types, and you see different performance basedon these product types, this is an excellent choice for you. The set up is the sameas the targeting by brand: set up ad groups based on product types. Within thosead groups, you should set up targets based on product types. When I say producttypes, I am referring to the Google product categories.Example Google product categories:Animals & Pet Supplies > Pet Supplies > Bird Supplies > Bird FoodAnimals & Pet Supplies > Pet Supplies > Bird Supplies > Bird TreatsAnimals & Pet Supplies > Pet Supplies > Cat Supplies > Cat ApparelThis attribute is not required in your data feed when setting up your initial data feed,but it is useful for optimizing your campaigns. I would strongly suggest taking thetime to go through your product to find the most specific product category for eachproduct.Set up targets by custom defined attributesAdWords labels targeting and AdWords grouping targeting allows you to target bywhatever grouping you find relevant. This would allow you to group things byseason, for instance. You could have labels for “fall line” and “summer line”. Youcould even include a designer’s name: “Gucci Fall Line”. The possibilities areendless here. The key to utilizing this targeting method most effectively is to find thebiggest cause of performance change in your account. You need to analyze yourdata in AdWords and any Analytics packages you use to find what attribute you canseparate your products by that cause performance changes, but everything withineach attribute has similar performance. So, while these targeting choices are themost appealing because they allow the most customization, they also require themost work and intelligent analysis to utilize properly.There are a few differences to these targeting methods you should consider beforepicking on. You must use the cost-per-click pricing model with the AdWords labelstarget, but you can target up to 10 labels at a time. Whereas with the AdWordsgrouping target, you can only target one grouping at a time, but you can use it forwhatever bidding method you prefer.Strategy and Analysis For PLAs (Continued)
Set up targets by SKU or product IDThis is a targeting method that seems favored by many advertisers, as I’ve learned fromdiscussing Product Listing Ads on blogs and social networking sites. This allows you toknow exactly what product you are targeting. Instead of grouping several or manyproducts into one target, you can be sure the performance of each target is directly tiedto an individual product.This strategy could be advantageous to any website with a small inventory, with ahandful of top performing products, or with an account manager that has a greatmemory! For example, if you sell a small line of supplements, it may benefit you tomanage each product separately in your Product Listing Ad campaign.As to the organization of this targeting method, you could either have an ad group foreach target, which would be beneficial if you’re doing cost-per-acquisition bidding at thead group level. You could also think of some other way to organize your products,perhaps an ad group for each product type, and then have the individual product targetshoused within each ad group. This would be best for cost-per-click bidding.AnalysisThere will be another article in this edition of Compass that discusses optimizing inAdWords, and yet another that covers optimizing your data feed. However, I’d like to takesome time to cover analysis of your Product Listing Ads as it pertains to your targetingstrategies.As I covered earlier in this article, the key factor to a good strategy for this product is todetermine the key factor that changes performance, yet has similar performance withinthe segmentation. Hopefully you were able to perform an in-depth and intelligent analysisto find what this is in your account. However, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve foundthe key factors to segment your targeting by through analysis of performance.Download a full report from AdWords that includes all target performance for as long of adate range as is available and makes sense. If you’ve had the same strategy in place for30 days, and you’ve seen hundreds of clicks for each target, then I would pull data for 30days. Just make sure whatever date range you select has had the same strategy forthe entirety and that you have enough data gathered to feel confident in thestatistical validity.Strategy and Analysis For PLAs (Continued)
2929Strategy and Analysis For PLAs (Continued)Once you have this report downloaded, compare performance between targets.Hopefully you see enough differences to justify continuing the segmentations you’veselected as your targeting strategy. If you see some similar segments have very similarperformance, you may want to consider grouping these into one target for easiermanagement.Comparing keyword-triggering data is also vital in analyzing your strategy. Performancecomparison at the targeting level could be misleading if you haven’t set up goodnegative keyword lists to limit cross-contamination between targets. Make sure keywordsare being sent to their most relevant target. You may need to perform analysis here andcontinue adding negative keywords to ad groups to prevent cross traffic several timesbefore you can analyze your target strategy properly. Make sure you allow enough datato accrue after the last time you add negatives so that you have clean, statisticallyrelevant data to analyze.
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