I’m Sonakshi from the Google AdWords team, and a common concern I’ve encountered whilst working with the advertisers is how they feel a little less equipped when it comes to optimizing their Shopping ads (f.k.a Product Listing Ads) as opposed to Search or Display campaigns.
I generally take them through a strategy divided into two phases:
- Data Feed optimization (Merchant Center level)
- Campaign optimization (AdWords account level)
Setting the Stage
One simple reason you want to kick the journey off at the Merchant Center level is because that is where you begin forming a strong foundation for a shopping campaign, and where you literally put down all of the information about your business and inventory -- essentially, all of the information your user is going to base his/her buying decision on.
Once that’s in place, optimizing the campaign is much easier.
So today, I’m going to talk about Data Feed Optimization -- the foundation of any successful shopping campaign -- in great detail. If you find it useful, or would like some additional insights on Phase 2 of this process - Campaign Optimization - feel free to drop your comments below, and I’d be happy to address them.
The following is a detailed checklist for Data Feed Optimization. Let’s take a look, one attribute at a time.
- Provide a unique Item ID for each new item you add to the feed and, more importantly, don’t modify it unless you have a solid reason to do so.
- Do not duplicate a single Item ID, either for the same product or an entirely new product.
Well, the system stores your product performance history based on your product’s item ID; meaning, if your product was performing well and then one day you change the item ID, the product’s performance may suffer in the beginning because the system is now trying to understand the user’s interest in and engagement with your product from scratch, thinking it’s a new product altogether.
- Try and keep your titles crisp, well within 100 characters, even though the allowed character limit is 150. This is to avoid truncation on smaller screens or similar situations.
- You may use all 150 characters if needed, but stay away from keyword-stuffing if the keywords aren’t relevant to your item.
- Write the title in descending order of attribute importance.
- For instance, Brand > Product Type > Variant
- For example, Nike Air Jordans - Women, Blue
- Here, Nike is the brand, Air Jordans is the product type, and “Women, Blue” specifies the variant
- This could vary from industry to industry and for different business goals, so the idea is to list items in order of importance. Let’s look at a couple of industry specific examples:
For different business goals
To attract more traffic (impressions), broad terms should be present. Eg. “Patio,” “Golf Club,” “Shoe” etc.
To get more engagement (CTR), specific granular terms should be present. Eg “Wicker,” “Energy Star” etc.
Finally, be sure to add important attributes like size, color, etc. which matter to the user; also ensure that you’re using terms like customizable/personalized wherever fit. This is the differentiating factor for your product, after all.
Here’s a quick guide on how to decide what would be a suitable title for your product:
Now, you might ask, how does one decide if the brand has high equity or not, or which terms are more likely to get more traffic…?
Well, here are a couple of tools to help!
Google Trends (Be sure to choose Google Shopping, as marked here)
Quick Tip: Don’t prepend promotional text to the title; studies show that this is not an effective way of writing titles. Example: Mother’s Day - Michael Kors Park Avenue Graduated Sparkle Necklace
In addition, we don’t recommend appending the MPN.
- There’s a max character limit of 5,000, but we recommend you submit around 500 to 1,000 characters to ensure the data is minimally truncated. Furthermore, keep in mind that most users really only spend time reading the first 500-1000 characters before deciding to click on a certain ad.
- That being said, please elaborate on the product as much as possible, including all specifications that matter to the user, and including any differentiating factors that make your brand stand out from the competitors. Example below:
- Use commonly used terms for colors (Red instead of Crimson, Yellow instead of Saffron etc, unless the product demands otherwise)
- Separate colors in order of prominence using “/”
- Include finishes/polishes wherever necessary. Example: stainless steel, gold plated etc.
Google Product Category
- Provide accurate categories for each product using Google’s product taxonomy. Inaccurate categorization can make it difficult for consumers to find and buy your products.
- Some categories (e.g. Apparel, bundles, subsidized cell phones) have very specific usage guidelines and can be reviewed in further detail within the Google Products Feed Specification.
- Product Type is used by Google to categorize your products and to match against search terms, and is often used by retailers as the basis for their Shopping Campaigns structure
- Provide an in-depth, accurate category structure in the Product Type field to help in the following three areas:
- Categorizing products in Google’s system
- Producing a good structure for Shopping campaigns by being able to bid more competitively for a product type of higher priority
- Improving search relevance for the product
Images are the first things that catch your customer’s attention, so using rich glamour shots of your products is worth the effort. Quality images improve clickthrough rates, which help improve conversions and ROI.
- Submit images with a resolution of 800x800 pixels, up to 4MB size
- Try different angles of the product and choose the best one
- Keep away from adding logos, watermarks or backgrounds to avoid disapprovals; white background is preferred
- Examine image URLs to eliminate resizing parameters that may render a smaller image. Eg. www.xyz.com/images/abc.jpg?ex=160X160
- Be consistent with your product titles. Red Shoes should correspond to an image of red shoes, and not a variant.
- Use “additional_image_link” attribute in your feed to provide a second image URL (if available); this helps to enhance the shopper’s experience
Mobile Link attribute
Providing a mobile-optimized link separate from the URL (if applicable) you provide in the “link” attribute allows for an improved user experience by ensuring that your mobile-optimized site is properly displayed to shoppers browsing on a mobile device.
- Be sure to provide accurate values for each of these attributes.
- Price, for instance, must be VAT inclusive in the feed; feel free to use Sale_Price attribute where applicable.
Hope you found this useful. It’s always nice to hear from you -- feel free to drop your comments in the section below and you’ll hear from us soon.
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