Google Shopping Pay-per-click is Here

Oct 20, 2012 1:28 AM  By

Google announced months back they were going to switch the currently free shopping results into a pay per click (PPC) model effective Oct 17.

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Now that the date has passed, it is perfect time to double check that your account has been configured correctly and that you are not going to suddenly lose a significant source of conversions.

Look at your traffic
The first thing to check for trouble before losing too much ground. Is the amount of traffic you are receiving from Google AdWords Product Listings Ads increasing substantially? As Google revises its feed program, you should see your traffic from PLA’s expand to include the traffic you used to receive from the free Google Shopping. If not, then you need to review that the steps you have taken and make certain you have set things up correctly.

Get Connected
Most advertisers have linked their product feeds and AdWords accounts in order to take advantage of Product Listing Ads (PLAs), as these ad formats have been a great source of converting traffic. But if you have not done so, you will need to set up your AdWords account to link to your Merchant Center account. There are a number of steps you’ll need to follow to make sure things are set up correctly, so double check these settings if traffic appears to be low:

· Make sure the AdWords account ID is entered in your Merchant Center
· Create a Product Extension for the campaign containing your PLA’s
· Insert an ad with promotional text for every ad group with a PLA

Get organized
While Google makes it possible to create a single ad group with all your products, remember now that this is PAY per click and you’ll want to have better control than the earlier approach allows. The best way to control how much you pay for various products, and to make sure you are getting acceptable returns, is to filter ad groups by various data in your feed.

Google allows for five fields to be filtered on: brand, condition, product_type, adwords_grouping, and adwords_labels. The first two may be useful, but are mostly items you can’t really modify when you create the feed. It is the other three that really matter. Make sure you are inserting information here that allows you to filter small groups of highly related products.

Here is an example:

Product_type Adwords_grouping Adwords_labels
Boat shoes Sperry

$0-50

Boat shoes Sperry $50-100
Boat shoes Dockers $50-100

By setting up these three fields we can now filter each into a unique ad group, with its own promotional ad text and bid effectively within AdWords

Get refined
If you really want to get the most out of your filters, then consider SKU or MPN level ad groups. By inserting the unique product identifiers into adwords_grouping or adwords_labels, you can create an ad group for each product in your inventory.

This will allow you to control bids based on returns at the product level and ensure the biggest returns. It will require keeping your feed SKU’s and AdWords up to date. But the control in bidding can be well worth it.

Get optimizing
Make sure you are not paying for traffic that doesn’t convert or, in other ways, add measurable benefit to your paid program.

It used to be a matter of process to make sure every product was included and available for visitors to click on in Google Shopping; the traffic was free after all. But now that the game has changed, it is imperative that advertisers take control of their Google Shopping spend to ensure it meets their R.O.I. expectations.

Michael Briggs is president of digital marketing agency Website Publicity.