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Making the Switch from Google PLA AdWords to Google Shopping Campaigns

Google has announced that its product listing advertisement (PLA) management will switch over from AdWords to Google Shopping. So what should retailers expect?

Google PLAs are ads that utilize pictures, product details and prices to capture the attention of customers. They are cost-per-click ads for Google Shopping that click through directly to the product page on the retailer’s website. Google has informed retailers that they must start managing their PLAs by setting up product feeds through Google Shopping instead of AdWords. But don’t fret, we’ve put together a list of the changes to come in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Meet Product Data Feed Requirements

Product data feed specifications are the heart of any Google Shopping campaign. They are a group of policies that retailers must follow in order to set up a proper Google Shopping feed. Warning: failure to comply with these requirements will result in zero traffic to your campaign. That’s right. All search traffic will be blocked from your products, if you don’t dot your i’s and cross your t’s when it comes to these rules. Here are a list of the newest changes:

  • Product Titles: Starting September 30th, product titles are allowed to be 150 characters, which is double what they are now. Retailers should utilize this extension by creating more descriptive product titles to attract customers.
  • Product Descriptions: Google is minimizing the amount of characters allowed in each product description to 5,000. However, most retailers only use about 300-500 characters, so there isn’t much pressure to cut down, but maybe to increase instead. Product descriptions should be informative, detailed and keyword oriented to get a customer interested in your product. A well-constructed product description also persuades a consumer that the product offers everything they’re looking for and also presents additional benefits.
  • Product Images: There are no changes or new restrictions to product images on Google Shopping. However, retailers should remember that having crisp, high definition pictures on a white background best display products and capture the attention of buyers.

Google will continuously roll out new guidelines, so implement these changes as they come or it could be detrimental to your sales. Following these rules will make sure that your products appear in relevant searches, generating more search traffic.


Plan Custom Labels and Product Groups

Google Shopping will introduce a new aspect into your PLA management called custom labels. Retailers can set five custom labels, 0-4, which are tags used to organize inventory into product groups. Custom labels allow retailers to designate items with specific attributes. Some examples of this could be, margin (to separate high and low margin products), promo (to distinguish between on sale and regular price merchandise), seasonal or release year. Set aside time to pick custom labels that would be the most helpful and would give you the ability to bet on product PLAs efficiently.

Retailers can no longer create unlimited ad groups for their products. The Google Shopping template creates a layering system for retailers, where all categories must fall under “all products.” For example, if a retailer sells clothing and shoes, they could set up all products then split them into two categories, shoes and clothes. Falling under clothes and shoes would be tops, bottoms, jackets, or boots, flats, heels, etc. Retailers could separate products into sections by bestsellers, brands and more. Relating product groups to custom labels can help retailers better organize their inventory and make bidding for PLAs easier. It is recommended that retailers devise a campaign structure before creating product groups. They can then plan out what products they will bid on together and incorporate various factors, such as time of day and location.

Get in the Know with Industry Benchmark Data

With Google Shopping, retailers will now have better control over product feeds and categories and will be able to see ad results for individual products. They will also be able to see insights from their competitive landscape. Retailers can now set up tabs that have industry benchmark data and data from retailers who are selling products similar to theirs. They can compare industry cost-per-click, click-through-rates, and impression shares. Google is also going to release a bid simulator which will give retailers an estimate of how many impressions they will receive or lose when they change their bids.

There are over one billion products on Google Shopping, available in over 23 countries. Getting a handle on your product listing ads and creating higher click-through rates will certainly help drive business.

What changes are you most excited to see and use to master your PLAs? Let us know in a comment below.

Contributing Writer: Amanda Lin

Min-Jee Hwang

Min-Jee is the former Director of Marketing at Wiser. She has extensive experience working with SaaS companies and holds a BA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from NYU Stern.

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