Octiv Digital
Display & Remarketing Ads Management

How to Use Automation for Google Shopping Campaigns

by | Last updated Oct 6, 2023

The Beginning of Google Shopping Ads

When it comes to e-commerce marketing, product listing ads (also referred to as Google Shopping) are paramount to successful online sales. Product ads have been part of Google Ads for over 5 years now, first introduced as a free service where advertisers would upload a data feed and rely on key characteristics in the data to “build” their ads. Once Google realized they could monetize the service and handle it similar to search advertising, they began charging advertisers a CPC for clicks on product ads.

Google Shopping

Today, shopping campaigns have grown into a channel of their own and they are a significant source of revenue for e-commerce advertisers.

How Do Small-to-Medium Sized Retailers Manage PLAs?

Most small-scale retailers have a few options available to them – work with a 3rd party agency, leverage automated tools or find a combination of both. However, if you are new to shopping campaigns, there is a steep, steep learning curve.

Give Automated Bidding a Try

If you have a large product catalog, 50k SKUs or greater, consider one of these types of automated bidding methods:

Enhanced CPC

At the very least, you’ll want to give Google a little more control through Enhanced CPC. With this bidding method, you allow Google to take your current max CPCs and increase or decrease them by up to 20%. This allows you to stay relevant in the auction without having to manage bids individually. Take a look at Google’s recommended CPC, set your max CPC and then let Enhanced CPC go to work.

Target CPA

If you have enough data to know how much each of your customers is worth to you, you are eligible for a strategy tied to cost-per-acquisition (CPA). This bidding method, target CPA, allows you to set your breaking point and give Google authority to adjust bids accordingly. For example, if your break-even advertising dollar is $150, you would set a CPA target of $150 and let Google tune your shopping campaign bids to hit the target. It’s proven to be a very impactful strategy and even works well with standard search campaigns.

Target ROAS

Similar to a target CPA strategy, target ROAS allows you to set your ROAS (return-on-ad-spend) goal and then Google tunes your bids accordingly. While both target CPA and target ROAS have a lot of unknowns, they have also shown really strong results for advertisers. To start with a target ROAS strategy, be sure you know your profitability metrics so you get set the right ROAS target.

Smart Shopping Campaigns

Relatively new to Google shopping campaigns are Smart Shopping Campaigns. This bidding strategy builds on target ROAS and increases your placements outside of Google search; you’ll see product ads in YouTube, Gmail and across the Google Display Network (GDN). You simply set a ROAS target and allow Google to optimize bids for you to hit that target. Your inventory will be shown in more places, which will result in increased ad spend, but you’ll find yourself driving more revenue.

If you find yourself trying to manage bids for a large product catalog, consider giving one of these machine-learned options a chance. While they do take time to fully learn your data and adjust your bids, you’ll notice over time they work really well and allow you to save resources.

For additional help, take a look at Google resources for automated bidding or feel free to reach out to us!

About the Author

Jeff Romero

Founder of Octiv Digital, University of Utah alumni, drummer and digital marketer for local businesses, e-commerce organizations and more. I write on the Octiv Digital blog about SEO, paid search, web development and analytics.


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