Google Shopping campaigns are one of the most effective forms of advertising for online retailers. Google invested a lot of time and energy in recent years to polish its product and enable advertisers to really grow their retail business.
The Basics of PLAs
Unlike standard search ads, shopping campaigns utilize product data for ad creative and an advertiser manages a feed of this data. The data originates from an e-commerce platform, feeds into a Google Merchant Center account and is then used in structured campaigns through Google Ads.
Product listing ads work off of the same CPC bidding structure as search ads, but they use product partitions instead of ad groups. Advertisers also do not manage keywords in a traditional sense. Instead, their product data matches to search queries and it’s up to the advertiser to optimize for the types of queries coming in.
Whether you’re a pro with product listing ads or just getting started with your e-commerce site, here are three tools you will want to get familiar with.
1 – Excel
With product ads, you can expect to work with a lot of data and you will need to use Excel to do so. Most online retailers have catalogs of 10,000 SKUs or more. And for some larger e-commerce stores, product catalogs easily exceed 500,000 SKUs. Whether you’re working on a Shopify site or a much larger Salesforce Commerce Cloud site, expect to work with a lot of data.
For this reason, Excel is vital tool. Microsoft’s flagship spreadsheet program can help with ad-hoc reporting requests, help you analyze pieces of your product data that may be problematic, help you understand campaign metrics (when pulling data from Google Ads account) and allow you to determine the strategy behind your PLA campaigns.
Without a solid understanding of spreadsheets and working with large sets of data, product ads may be overwhelming.
Alternatively, you can use Google Sheets for most of the aforementioned processes. While Google Drive is a cloud-driven system, Excel is a local application as part of the Microsoft Office suite and it’s likely your business already uses it.
2 – Feedonomics
When product data originates from your e-commerce platform, it’s considered raw product data. The file may contain a title, description, attributes about your SKUs (colors, sizes, materials) and of course, pricing information. What happens if you need to adjust any of this data on the fly? It’s not unheard of to manage a product data feed through Microsoft Excel, but this would require you to set up multiple rules and filters you would constantly need to update. If only there were a tool that would allow you to update product data on the fly with just a few easy keystrokes…
Feedonomics is a platform used by advertisers to quickly edit critical components of their product data. Edits may be made in bulk, only for certain attributes of your feed or based on any rules you establish.
The feed management tool ingests the raw product data file from your e-commerce platform and allows its user to manipulate it in any way they choose. Additionally, advertisers can choose where they want to export files with the right set of export parameters as Feedonomics seamlessly integrates with popular shopping platforms like Bing and Amazon.
We have been working with Feedonomics for ~3 years now and can say it’s a game changer in the world of data feed management.
3 – SEMRush
Okay, so you have big data management tools in place with Excel and a feed management platform. So now how do you know what kind of data edits you need to make? You can turn to the Google Merchant Center for basic recommendations about your product feed or use search queries in your Google Ads account to understand how people interact with your data. But how do you know what competitors in your space do with product listing ads?
SEMRush is a robust toolset used by digital marketers for SEO research and search engine marketing including competitor analysis for PLAs. With SEMRush, advertisers can see which products serve for specific queries and have a well-rounded understanding of their competitors’ performance.
Aside from manually looking up queries in Google, this is an ideal solution to knowing what the competition does with their product ads. You may also want to use the keyword analytics section of SEMRush to better target your ad’s titles and descriptions.
While these are our three go-to tools for managing PLA campaigns, there are several SaaS platforms on the market. To find the right toolset for your business, begin by understanding the size of your product catalog. Businesses with smaller SKU counts can likely manage the data through Excel or Google Sheets while larger catalogs need to consider a feed management tool.
The right toolset is just one piece of the PLA puzzle. You’ll also need to determine how campaigns should be structured, priority settings, targeting and budgeting. Google Shopping campaigns may be difficult to get started with, but you’ll quickly see they deliver the sales you need at a surprisingly strong ROAS.