Changes To Google Product Listing Ads
If you don’t know Google has been having beta testers try out a new format to Google Product Listing ads. This article will serve as my take on the difference as well as the pro’s and con’s we have seen when working with the new structure. Out of the gate it appears that everything Google is doing with pay per click has to deal with focusing on the novice PPC manager or DIY crowd. It makes sense since they are making it easier for small business and decision makers to handle campaigns themselves, but typically do so at the expense of what advanced users find helpful. Now, lets dive in.
The first thing we noticed with the new structure is that it really did remove the complexity of building out campaign structures for product ads. In the past most customers we have simply implemented an “all products” ad target and let the chips fall where they may. That means there was one bid for all products (not a good idea, but better than nothing). This was mainly because the technical expertise to split campaigns into more granular groups was outside of the technical abilities of most users, and even most PPC managers not accustomed to doing PLA’s.
The Build Out
The new PLA’s make it easier and faster to build out complex campaigns by being more integrated with Google Merchant Center. You can now see product data like the name of the product in adwords previously required you to jump back and forth between Google Adwords and Google Merchant which was a big time waster for something you have to do a lot when you are optimizing product ads. Unfortunately, you can delete everything just as fast as you created it. While I like being able to do things fast, there are somethings that should require a little more effort to undo. I think the new structure is one of them.
The new Google Shopping campaigns give you historical data right out of the gate because it appears they attribute data differently than the previous product ad campaigns. The new ones seem to store performance data with the attributed product so when you create new campaign you already have info on how that product performed in previous product ads which is a great feature.
Benchmark competitive data
My favorite thing about the increase in data availability is the benchmark data (as shown below). It provides you with competitive information that will allow you to make better decisions about your product ad bids on a brand & product level. This can be good for determining if you are significantly overbidding or underbidding your benchmark competitors.
One thing really lacking in the old interface is the lack of information about impression which is generally used to measure saturation for a set of keywords. Generally, if keywords perform really well, you would want a higher saturation on those keywords. You couldn’t get that information on product ads before. Now you can.
Bid simulator coming soon
Although I don’t use the bid simulator tool all that much in regular adwords it may be helpful in product ads as Google plans to launch the new tool shortly.
Data Visualization 🙁
Google turned up the dials on simplicity and competitive information, but they took away a lot of your ability to quickly turn data into information. Performance over time, historical charts, and many other features. New Google Shopping does not provide a change history, doesn’t provide downloadable reports, and doesn’t give you the same segmentation ability that you can do with the old structure.
In all I still prefer the old method because it give me more granular control over how campaigns run, but I think they are on the right track. Part of what I like most about Google PLA’s new layout is that it is moving more towards the way Ecommerce managers think about and group their products as opposed to the Adwords focuses on keywords. Although as an advertiser I would like to target a specific product to a specific keyword, Google does have a need to put the customer first and without natural search to balance our paid shopping results, they cant just sell every spot to the highest bidder. The editorial control of product ads must be more in the hands of Google.
Final Thoughts On The New Google Shopping Campaign Structure
overall I am not opposed to the changes. They are headed in the right direction and will make improvements to the program over time. That being said, we are still not transitioning currently optimized campaigns to the new platform because much of the benefits that it offers have already been done the old fashioned way in the current formatting of campaigns. This program has a little ways to go, but hold off jumping on the bandwagon to soon. Google has a strong track record of ending beta’s without integrating. There is a chance you may be left high and dry.