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Google shopping and the evolving pla landscape white paper


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Dice Nakamura is the Business Development Manager at Vertical Nerve, a Dallas-based firm focusing on data-driven marketing and digital analytics. Vertical Nerve is a Google Analytics Certified Partner and a Google Analytics Premium Authorized Reseller. Dice has over 5 years of experience covering Google Shopping and complex PLA marketing strategies.

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Google shopping and the evolving pla landscape white paper

  1. 1. Google Shopping and the Evolving PLA Landscape
  2. 2. Vertical Nerve is a: Most of us have experience with traditional keyword campaigns and expectations, and PLA has outperformed all of those. - Chase Twomey Director of E-Commerce, Zoro Tools “ “ 01
  3. 3. The Google Shopping landscape is evolving, and fast! There are four types of shopping results in Google: Organic Search Results AdWords Product Ad Extensions Product Listing Ads Maps and Places Listings 1 2 3 4 10 In this White Paper, we specifically address the growing opportunity - and the potential “gotchas” - of Product Listing Ads, or PLAs. 01
  4. 4. launching to all US advertis- ers in November 2010, within a year, Product Listing Ads (PLAs) saw sig- nificant growth depicting a 600% increase in traffic globally year over year and 2Xs the CTR vs. text ads according to Google. PLAs are a phenomenal mar- keting tool, but when done in- correctly can damage a brand and also showcase irrelevant products. When done correctly in Google Merchant Center and Google AdWords, PLAs produce fan- tastic results. With properly positioned text ads, remar- keting / display campaigns, organic campaigns and other marketing campaigns, the ROI attributed from PLA campaigns should become the highest performing strategy in a marketer’s portfolio. 02 600% INCREASE IN GLOBAL TRAFFIC Now is the time for all retailers across the globe to take product specific PLAs seriously! Since 2002, Google Shopping “Beta” has been an incredible source of free traffic for e-commerce retailers. Last November, Google shocked the e-commerce sec- tor by announcing their transi- tion from a free to a paid model in the U.S. PLAs are a hybrid of Google Shopping and Google AdWords accounts. Managing PLAs effectively is a complex process that requires the synchronization of two Google products, but PLAs are now a requirement for all merchants who want to promote their products through Google Shopping. The ROI attributed from PLA campaigns should become the highest performing strategy in a marketer’s portfolio. year over year Since Source: Google Research Study - October 2012
  5. 5. When Google Shopping came into market in 2002, listing products was easy. Merchants could literally send a basic feed specification (i.e. product ID, prod- uct URL, image URL, sale price and descriptions) and still generate quality traffic. This was the case for eight years until 2010 when Google started making changes to their feed specifications that made listing products very complex. These changes have allowed Google to distinguish who their power users were. By doing so, they were able to eliminate companies that weren’t serious about online marketing and sales. These companies received “disapproved” statuses frequently, which eliminated their product listings. Here are examples of changes that have occurred in Google Shopping: § New specification announced by Google on July 16, 2013 that includes the addition of the unique product identifier (UPI) and multipack. Merchants should update their feeds immediately so they don’t get penalized. § Addition of new field attributes like Google product cat- egory, tax, shipping, multipack, adult, energy efficiency class, expiration date and Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) just to name a few. § The addition of 2,400 new Google category values. § Apparel merchants were also required to identify their parent-child relationships by requiring merchants to apply an item group ID (parent SKU) value along with the child SKUs variant values (color, gender and size). § Sale price and price fields now require a currency value with two decimal points. § No Free Shipping in product titles. § Special characters are not allowed in any field attribute. The latest update occurred on June 11, 2013, when Google announced the same transition to the fol- lowing International regions: UK, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. 03
  6. 6. 04 Keeping up with Google changes is something that can be fixed through trial and error, but without the proper tools and resources, it is very difficult to improve impressions. For merchants starting out for the first time, getting a fully-optimized Google Shopping feed is a lot of work, requiring time and testing on the merchants’ end. The graph above illustrates how product listings can be affected. Disapproved Products in the thousands! When Google suggested that the transi- tion from the free to paid model would be an easy process, everyone experienced the exact opposite. Managing PLAs through Google Shopping and Google AdWords has been very complex. Merchants with ba- sic feed requirements typically spent days (sometimes months) trying to get their product listings back up.
  7. 7. 05 Using a manufacturer name with model number will help improve PLA impressions. Google Shopping product data is di- rectly correlated with the impressions and conversion ratios of PLAs. Since there are no keywords with PLAs, the only way for Google to match search query results to product data is through the Google Shopping data feed. If products are disapproved for data quality reasons, those products will never show up in search results. Tracking data quality on a daily basis and updating product data according to the errors has become a daily pro- cess. Many experienced merchants have probably noticed a significant improvement in impressions and CTRs. One example of optimizing Google Shopping product data for better im- pressions is to use relevant keywords in product titles and description fields. Example of Product Listing Ads – In the image, product title, product type and values are displayed on the right hand side. This is all man- aged through Google Merchant Center. * It’s important that merchants use correct unique product identifiers within product titles, model number and description fields in order to fully-optimize impressions. This will improve PLA results on Goo- gle’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
  8. 8. PLAs work in two different ways. Mer- chants using a PLA strategy today will no- tice that there are listings on Google Shop- ping and on Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs). Google Shopping listings are accessed via the Shopping Link on Google and act as a comparison shopping engine. Users can search products based on keyword terms. 06 This is the method of display for Google Shopping. PLAs, on the other hand, will be displayed within the original Google search results. Google Shopping Now There are also options for brick and mor- tar store locations to show up within a searcher’s vicinity. Category specific options are available as well and this interface is similar to com- parison shopping engines like Shopzilla, Pricegrabber and
  9. 9. 07 PLA using Google’s SERP PLAs that appear in the main SERP display the image, product title, price, category value and special offerings for merchants utilizing promotional texts. Optimizing these listing can be very challenging be- cause the current default setting and Goo- gle’s recommendation for PLAs is to send all products into one PLA Ad Group (see: Google PLA Recommendation). The logic behind optimizing PLAs is that Google will choose products from Google Merchant center and match it to search query results. The challenge with opti- mizing PLAs through Google’s recom- mendation is to have one single Ad Group assigned to all SKUs. Google will match relevant data from your Product Titles, Brand Names, Model Num- bers, ASIN, EAN, GTIN, MPN or a variety of specific and non-specific terms from your product data. This is where data quality becomes crucial, but more importantly, setting up prod- uct-specific PLAs. ROI with PLAs can be strong, but with one single Ad Group con- taining all products in a catalog it is virtu- ally impossible to make improvements.
  10. 10. PRIMARY REASONS MERCHANTS MUST TAKE A PRODUCT SPECIFIC PLA APPROACH: 07 Merchants find it difficult to bid intelligently across various price points with- out product specific PLAs. Merchants should not bid $1 for a product that is $5 and use the same bid for a product that is $1,000. Bids should be set intelli- gently based on margin and price point. Negative keyword strat- egies can be applied to product specific PLA Ad Groups. For negative key- word strategies, one key item to note is that Google still displays a small per- centage of free clicks on Google Shopping. It’s important to not re- move under-performing products from Google Merchant Center be- cause it’s still possible to receive free clicks. Free clicks don’t affect ROI. The best practice is to eliminate negative performing products in Google AdWords and leave free listings on Google Shopping. Product specific PLAs will allow promotional text on various price points or subset of category values. For example, it’s not possible to place free shipping for products over a $100 using Goo- gle’s recommendation. Case Study: Specialized On-Line Retailer in only 6 months! 08 #1 #2 #3 ( July - Dec. 2012 ) The retailer was able to create product-specific negative keywords to match generic keywords to their individual product with the best ROI. This strategy is used to force Google to show the products the retailer wants shown rather than give the choice to Google when matching products to search terms. In addition to increasing revenue, this retailer was able to increase their ROAS from 2.4 % to 28.4 %
  11. 11. § Be prepared to commit a lot of time, resources and money to achieve the best results. § Build product-specific PLA Ad Groups within AdWords. § Use PLA-specific field attributes (adwords_labels or adwords_grouping), which are used for product filters to limit a campaign to a group of products or product targets to bid differently across different subsets of products. § Make sure to get the most out of all the Google feed attributes. § Don’t forget to investigate the click costs for your products and the industries with low budget and low CPCs. § Check for feed errors on a daily basis and eliminate these issues. § Make sure to use the data quality tabs to analyze Google Shopping data quality. § Optimize Google Shopping product data by imbedding relevant keywords into product titles and descriptions. § Target high value segments and find new segments to break out in campaigns. Build account history and send quality data to be rewarded by Google with lower CPCs. § Control bids for individual products and bid aggressively on products with high perfor- mance. § Manage ROI & costs by pausing unprofitable products using negative keyword strategies. § Market only the most competitive products. Vertical Nerve’s Recipe for High-Performance PLAs 09
  12. 12. Vertical Nerve’s PLA service incorporates the management of your Google Merchant Cen- ter and your Ad Center. Whether you have 1,000 SKUs or 1,000,000 SKUs, our certified Sr. Account Managers will implement com- plex data manipulation strategies to build out product specific PLA Ad Groups and also optimize your Google Shopping data feed so there are no data quality issues. This allows our team to initiate bidding strategies down to the product level, implement negative keyword strategies and also develop product specific promotional texts. Managing your Google Merchant Center and Product Specific PLA Ad Groups is la- bor intensive, but our experienced team will make it easy for you to achieve the ROI you are looking for. Call us today to learn more about Vertical Nerve and our PLA service! Product Listing Ads: In Summary Product Listing Ads: In Summary by Dice Nakamura Business Development Manager,Vertical Nerve
  13. 13. 08 Vertical Nerve’s attention to PLAs led to a new discovery on July 15. The search term “nike boat shoes” is showing “Shop by style” extensions under the PLA list- ings, which directs traffic away from Google’s SERP and directs it to Google Shopping’s SERP. See the two “Shop by style” category val- ues, “Athletic Shoes” and “Loafers & Slip- Ons,” in the snap shot below. Shop by style extensions that take you directly to Google’s SERP Author’s Note: Look for “Shop by Style” Extensions By clicking on these links, the viewer is taken completely away from Google’s SERP. It’s important to note that merchants sending quality data are being reward- ed here. Google’s taxonomy tree is very detailed and merchants can choose from well over 5,000 values. Etailers using detailed category values are able to take advantage of Google’s algorithms.
  14. 14. Here is the Google Shopping SERP “Shop by style” – Athletic Shoes view for “Athletic Shoes.” As you can see, there are no paid text ads or organic search results. 100% of these listings are Google Shopping listings. Google has been very generous with PLAs lately and advertisers have been flocking to them since Google Shopping switched to a paid model in most mar- kets last year. Vertical Nerve’s analysis has shown that product listing ads CPCs are closing in on traditional Google text ads as the auctions and bids get more competitive. Our team could only replicate these “Shop by style” extensions by searching “nike boat shoes”. Stay Tuned! “Athletic Shoes” and “Loafers & Slip-Ons” have to be in your Google product catego- ry field within your Google Shopping data feed. “Athletic Shoes” is the sub-sub-sub Google category value of Apparel & Acces- sories > Shoes > Athletic Shoes & Sneakers > Athletic Shoes. “Loafers & Slip-Ons” is the sub-sub Google category value of Apparel & Accessories > Shoes > Loafers & Slip-Ons. Upon clicking the “Shop by style” category extensions, you can see below that 100% of the listings are PLAs under the “Athletic Shoes” category. 09 Vertical Nerve helps companies grow their online revenue through highly effective Search Marketing and improve their online conversions through Digital Analytics. Serving national brands since 1999, Vertical Nerve is a Google Analytics Certified Partner and Premium Authorized Re- seller, a Google AdWords Certified Partner and a Micro- soft Advertising Preferred Agency. Learn more at www. ABOUT VERTICAL NERVE Contact Sales: 800.330.9450 © 2013 Vertical Nerve Inc.