Best Practices From The Google Shopping Team

Members of the Google Shopping team, Education Manager Nicole Premo and Product Specialist Chris Azalde, put together their second Google+ hangout for the North American Google Partner Shopping Community.

The topics covered included a recap of the hangout aired in June, which touched upon shopping campaign optimization feed best practices, new features available in the AdWords editor 10.5 release, and what new attributes the updated 2014 data feed has in store.

The Recap from June’s Hangout On Air highlights the benefits of using Shopping campaigns for Product Listing Advertisements.

1) Retail Centric Campaign Management

  • Browse products in AdWords
  • Merchandise Products into product groups
  • Promote Sales with campaign priorities

The idea behind retail centric reporting is that it allows advertisers to browse product inventories from AdWords and create groups of items, setting individual bids for each group. The example used on the Google Shopping Support page, is women’s shoes. In AdWords, advertisers would be able to view all types of women’s shoes from the data feed, but we could simply create campaigns within AdWords for particular types or classes of shoes that we want to promote.

2) Advanced Reporting

  • View Performance data by product attribute
  • Analyze item-level performance regardless of structure

Google has allowed advertisers to easily sort historical performance data from within AdWords. We are able to compare all of our products from within the AdWords interface. We can easily determine which brands or items lead to more conversions and why.

3) Competitive Landscape

  • Track against your competitors with benchmark CTR and CPC
  • Get insights into your competitive landscape with impression share
  • Estimate your impression and click opportunity with bid simulator

AdWords provides powerful insight with impression share and bid simulator. These views allow advertisers to clearly determine what percentage or share an advertiser has on a particular group or item and even calculates how much it might cost to maximize growth in that market.

After recapping on the benefits of Google Shopping campaigns, Nicole & Chris jumped into Product Data feed best practices. These are a few pointers that we grabbed that advertisers should keep in mind when designing successful Shopping Campaigns.

Remember that the Product data feed contains all of the information that Google has about your products. With that in mind, the Product Data Feed must be complete, fresh and accurate. It was recommended that the data feed be updated on a daily basis. That will ensure your online inventory is up to date with your physical inventory. It is also important to make sure that the data feed’s titles and descriptions plus all of the product images are user friendly and relevant. We recommend aligning the feed with information contained on your website about the product. A few helpful features that were recommended from the hangout are the Search Terms report and bid optimizer. With the search terms report we can better understand which terms and phrases are converting well or receiving high volume. Google encourages advertisers to integrate these terms into the product description or title to benefit better results but doing this in a way so that it, “speaks to you.”

Photos are very important. Your product listing advertisement’s photo is more than likely what a potential buyer will see first, so having an attractive photo could be your best asset. Google recommends submitting images of high quality and to avoid watermarks, logos, obscure backgrounds and multiple products in a single photo. It is also not a bad idea to take images at multiple angles and include them in the additional images attribute. We are allowed to submit up to 10 additional photos.

Below is a snapshot of Shopping Triangle Bid methodology.

Google Shopping Bid Triangle

It suggests to bid based on your product group’s relative value. At the base of the triangle, we have all of our products, which are bidding at a uniform level. As we move up the triangle, we segment our inventory into product lines, bestsellers, and unique ID’s. Under the bidding triangle best practice, it is better to manually bid more aggressively on particular product lines, bestsellers, and ID’s that are leading to more conversions, or that are more profitable.

We should bid based on two objectives.

1) We should bid to maximize the shopping campaign as a whole.
2) We should also bid to maximize potential of important or lucrative products.


Google Shopping Product Type

Setting up the pyramid structure is based on organizing your inventory with the product_type attribute. As illustrated in the hangout, products can be defined by product categories, gender, year of the model, and sizes. It’s important to differentiate product type attribute from the product category attribute. The Google’s product category is limited specific product categories provided in the Google Product Taxonomy. However, with the product type attribute, we can provide our own classification and we can include more than one ‘product type’ attribute value if our products apply to more than one category. Essentially, the more product_type variables that we use, the more variables our product will have to bid on.



Google Custom Variables

Another useful attribute covered in the hangout is the Custom Labels attribute. The custom labels attribute allows advertisers the opportunity to group products based on sales and bestsellers. For instance we can define items for a special spring sale, or a holiday like the 4th of July or Halloween. We can also group our items based on margins or volume of sales. If we have an item that has a very high return, we can place a “high margin” label to it, or classify a bestseller with a best seller label. This is helpful for setting unique bids on these custom labels.

After covering the tips listed above, Chris went on to discuss the 2014 Data Specification Updated attributes. He classified the slides into new and updated features, apparel changes, policy data and data quality updates.

The Updated Features slide contains:

1) mobile_link
Provides links to mobile optimized versions of landing pages for products
Improves user experience for shoppers on mobile devices

2) is_bundle
Groups of products sold together for a single price
Distinguishes from multipacks and single products
Mobile phones with a contract must use this

3) availability
The “available for order” attribute is now replaced with “in stock”, “out of stock”, “preorder”, options instead.

The Apparel Changes slide contains:

1) age group
Now has 5 values for age groups.
Newborn, Infant, Toddler, Kids, & Adult

2) Size System
Indicates the country’s sizing system for different countries.
Accepted values are US, UK, EU, DE, FR, JP, CN, IT, BR, MEX, & AU

3) Size type
indication of the cut of your item
Accepted values are Regular, Petite, Plus, Big & Tall, & Maternity

The Policy and Data Quality Updates included

1) Updated landing page policy
Replacement of existing destination URL policy with new content policy

2)Image quality recommendations
Additional articles in the help center with best practices on creating better product images

3) Attribute Character Limits
To display products in the most effective way, we now clearly state how many characters can be used for most attributes

For reference, we’ve included a link for policies regarding Local Product Listing Ads.

The next important factor that Nicole & Chris covered is the updated AdWords editor, (version 10.5), which is more suited to manage shopping campaigns.

The updated AdWords editor allows for:

Offline campaign management
Bulk Edits to URL’s and product groups
Updating promotional text across multiple ad groups
Negative Keyword management

As a side note, the AdWords editor will not be able to delete Shopping campaigns or product groups.

The final portion of the hangout consisted of a Q&A bit. Chris & Nicole went on to colorfully provide valuable answers to questions about managing a data feed, shipping and tax information, configuring the Google Merchant Center, and general product listing advertisement best strategies.

The full featured Hangout can be viewed from the Google Partner YouTube channel.



Google’s support of online commerce is growing in all directions. Addressing the trend of E-Commerce storefronts receiving much needed security scrutiny, we find that shoppers are certain to feel more at ease when purchasing from a storefronts labeled with credible trustmarks, indicating a site has been stamped as a secure transactional network.  The pressing question is what is Google’s take on this? What does Google’s seal of approval for online webfronts mean? How do websites submit to Google’s approval process?

Google’s Trusted Store certification is a way of indicating that a site is a reliable place to shop. Websites wishing to earn this mark of online accreditation must submit to Google’s certification process that can be completed in three clear steps.

1. Create a Google Trusted Stores profile

This step is where businesses tell Google about themselves. This information includes primary contact information, administrators, notification settings, domain addresses, and account access. One really innovative feature is the ability to manage more than one online store. Administrators can add additional stores to an account, or remove stores from an account.

2. Submit shipping feeds to confirm your reliable shipping

The shipment details include the Order ID, Shipment Date, Carrier tracking number, and Carrier name. Google provides a wealth of reference material to businesses that may be  unfamiliar with standard carrier values and related logistical terms.

3. Add the Google Trusted Stores code to your site.

We found it interesting that Google requires the Trusted Store badge JavaScript snippet must be placed on every page on the business’s site. This includes the checkout, of course, but every web page! Again, Google provides excellent instructions on how to install these javascript snippets.

Where lies the benefit? Is it truly worth the time and effort to become a Google Trusted Store? We assessed the costs and benefits of this, and we undoubtedly concede, it most certainly is beneficial. Below are a few example of the types of preferential treatment Google Trusted Stores receive. These added features, security benefits and increased total on returns bolster our conclusion.

1) Let’s start with the Google Shopping Network. The Shopping Network is a growing market suited for just about any product. We can count on the Shopping Network to expand with the increase in demand in online shopping. Sites that have cleared the certification receive a badge of approval to display next to their website’s domain name.

Google Trusted Store .png

2) The next added feature relates to security. Of course the whole concept revolves around added security. Google vows to help resolve issues and disputes  that arise from their Trusted Store’s transactions, and will protect purchases up to $1,000!

3) The third reason why the Google Trusted Store application is a great idea is the increased rate of return a business might expect to receive. We spoke about peace of mind. We’re sure it has something to do with that. Google has proudly attached numerous success stories that boast  total conversion increases ranging anywhere from 1.3%  to a whopping  12.8% gained by

Google Product Listing Advertisement Facts

According to sales forecasts from Forrester Research Inc. U.S. online retail sales are expected to reach $294 billion for the year of 2014. This accounts for approximately 9% of all sales in the United States. Forrester projects that by 2018, online sales will account for 11% of total US retail sales, reaching a whopping $414 billion.

On that same vein, we sought to find a few facts and figures surrounding the emerging Google Product Listing Advertisement format. We have collected the following facts & figures from Marin Software’s White Paper Report representing a survey  of enterprise retailers spending over $100,000 per month on Google text ads and PLAs.

  • From January through December 2013, retail advertisers increased spend on PLAs by nearly 300%. Compare to January through December of 2012, where retail advertisers only spent 67% more.
  • PLAs experienced a 25% growth increase overall from 2012 to 2013.
  • Due to increased competition, the average Cost-Per-Click of Product Listing Advertisements rose 35%.
  • From January through December, 2013, Click-Through Rate increased 6% on Product Listing Advertisements.
  • Smartphone PLAs consistently outperform those on desktop. For the month of October, smartphones experienced a 33% higher CTR than those of desktops.
  • Marin Predicts that by December 2014, 40% of all PLA clicks will occur on smartphones.
  • Marin predicts that by December 2014, retailers will allocate one third of their entire budget toward PLA’s.
  • Google has released Shopping Campaigns as part of the AdWords interface, which allows for easy grouping of products for online catalogs. The shopping campaigns provide detailed reports that allow for catalog optimizations.