PLA Power Moves: (Re)Start Strong – Google Shopping

I was a leader in the Agency division at Channel Intelligence (CI) which was the global leader in management of Product Listing Ad campaigns (paid and unpaid) until its acquisition by Google in 2013. While there, my team’s account group included Apple (during and after the original iPhone launch), OfficeMax, Williams Sonoma Group (multiple brands of theirs), Walgreens, Sephora, Ann Taylor, TigerDirect, and many others.  CI collectively worked with over 30% of the Internet Retailer 500, and track 1 in 6 online transactions with in-house 1st party tracking technology which I influenced the roadmap for heavily.

I was intimately involved in ongoing decisions related to product metadata optimization, media optimization (BBM – Bid and Budget Management), and channel optimization (shifting budget from one shopping channel/engine to another etc.; including the optimization of product, price point, category, and brand mix).

First off, why should you focus the attention of your e-commerce efforts on PLAs (Product Listing Ads)?

After working in the retail world for a few years as a brick & mortar manager, I transitioned 20 years ago to the e-commerce side, and have danced in that world ever since.

Throughout the years I’ve managed media campaigns, entire e-commerce channels, and consulted to hundreds of e-commerce merchants (both brands and retailers) on a variety of topics. With all I’ve seen I can tell you that PLAs (most specifically, Google Shopping) should be one of your most important paid media channels. Google Shopping can deliver conversion rates that are unbelievable (over 20% on top-performing product campaigns).

Let’s get into it.

There are 2 primary components to Shopping listings management:

  1. Feed management and related elements that, for Google, exist in GMC (Google Merchant Center)
  2. Ad management where you determine what types of ad campaigns you want to run, budgets, etc., and align product groupings to campaigns

Power Move #1: signup with a feed engine and/or a data feed management platform company. The three we recommend, in no particular order, are: 1) GoDataFeed, 2) Feedonomics, and 3) Productsup.

Now . . . why do you need this? Another good question.   😀

Data feed platforms are essential to properly optimize the product metadata at scale. They will “consume” an input from you (these three players have built to the APIs of the majority of leading e-commerce platforms), then they will process the data into their database.

Then, following rules, filters, etc., you have to modify the data, suppress/remove certain products, and then submit the data to GMC (Google Merchant Center) as well as other key partners you need to fuel with optimized product metadata. Don’t sleep on providing optimized metadata out of a feed management platform in lieu of directly out of your e-commerce store. 

For most product-level advertising you need to be highly conscientious about product title length (i.e., number of characters), as FB/IG, Pinterest, affiliates, etc., will only show a handful of characters your website is not currently optimized for.

Power Move #2+: ad management is a pivotal component in the success of (PLAs), influencing visibility, engagement, and conversions. Let’s delve into some of the strategic aspects of ad management.

>>> Campaign Strategy & Budget Allocation

This involves defining campaign objectives, selecting suitable ad types (such as standard PLAs or showcase PLAs), setting budgets, and determining bid strategies. Aligning these elements with business goals ensures optimal resource allocation for maximum impact.

>>> Product Groupings & Customization

A key aspect of ad management is structuring product groupings based on attributes like category, brand, or performance data. This segmentation enables tailored messaging, bid adjustments, and precise performance tracking. By aligning product groups with specific campaigns, advertisers can enhance targeting precision and drive conversions.

>>> Performance Monitoring & Optimization

Continuous monitoring of ad performance metrics is essential for refining strategies. Ad managers should analyze data insights to make informed decisions on bid adjustments, keyword optimizations, ad copy enhancements, and product feed refinements. This iterative process ensures ongoing campaign optimization for sustained success.

In summary, Power Move #2+ emphasizes the critical role of strategic ad management in maximizing the effectiveness of PLAs. By implementing a well-defined strategy, customizing product groupings, and continuously optimizing performance, advertisers can elevate their PLA campaigns to achieve greater visibility, engagement, and ultimately, conversions.

A Bing Bonus

Microsoft Bing Shopping should not be overlooked. While it won’t drive the volume (or the conversion rate) of Google Shopping, it will drive profitable value for a subset of your catalog.

 — Dan Scala, CEO, agencyTHE

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