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Create and Optimize Effective Shopping Campaigns: Google Best Practices

Official Guide to Building a Strategy for Your Shopping Campaigns.


Shopping campaigns give you a chance to feature your products to online customers. Get our latest shopping campaign best practices guide on how to structure effective campaigns, set your best bids and optimize your strategy to deliver on your marketing objectives.

Consumers today are shopping everywhere at any time on any device from the moment of inspiration to the final purchase. It’s no longer as important for a shopper to be present in a retailer’s space, whether online or in-store, as it is for a retailer to be present wherever and whenever someone is shopping. To take advantage of this increased shopping demand across devices, we’ll show you how to create a strategy for your Shopping campaigns to build a strong presence and seize opportunities to win customers. Follow these steps to help deliver on your marketing objectives and, ultimately, get in front of today’s constantly connected shoppers.

1. Define objectives for your Shopping campaigns

Before diving into specific tactics, focus on setting your campaign objectives. What are you looking to drive with your Shopping campaigns? Establish clear success metrics before developing your plan to achieve your goals.

2. Choose the right bid strategy

Your bids directly impact your visibility and results. Determine if Smart or manual bidding is the best strategy for you. Using the available automated options will ensure your products show for the right search queries to deliver on your campaign objectives. Learn more about Smart Bidding.

Use Smart Bidding to drive performance

More than likely, your goals for your Shopping campaigns are based on performance results. Three examples of this scenario are:

  1. Retailer A wants to drive the most sales volume for their seasonal product line.
  2. Retailer B wants to maximize their revenue by prioritizing products that are bringing them the most revenue.
  3. Retailer C has varying profit margins for different products and wants their costs to be in line with these margins.

Smart Bidding will automatically optimize your bids for performance metrics that are important to your business. Apply the Target Return on Ad Spend (Target ROAS) bid strategy to adjust your bids for every user search to meet your set ROAS goal and maximize conversion value. Many factors, including device type, user location, and product details are evaluated into each bid adjustment. If you have strong mobile performance, for example, Target ROAS will adjust your mobile bids accordingly. Read more about Target ROAS.

 
Use Smart Bidding on top of your manual bids

If you need to manually adjust your bids, we recommend creating a system for managing your bids. To further optimize, you can enable the Enhanced CPC (eCPC) feature to adjust your product group bids at the query level for every auction. These bid adjustments help maximize the number of conversions while keeping costs around the same, leading to higher conversion rates and lower costs per conversion. Read more about eCPC.

Shopping Ad Query Without eCPC
Bid Change
With eCPC
Bid Change
Conversion Rate
  puddlers yellow rainboots size 7 $0.60 $0.78

High

puddlers yellow rainboots $0.60 $0.75 High​
puddlers rainboots $0.60 $0.64 High​
puddlers boots $0.60 $0.61 High​
yellow rainboots $0.60 $0.59 Low
puddlers shoes $0.60 $0.55 Low
rainboots $0.60 $0.40 Low
boots for rain $0.60 $0.35 Low
waterproof boots $0.60 $0.31 Low
$0.60 Max CPC Bid boots $0.60 $0.10 Low

 

 
Use Smart Bidding to drive traffic

Let’s say your primary goal is to drive as much traffic as possible to your products. Three examples of this scenario are:

  1. Retailer A wants to generate the most traffic for their newest product line.
  2. Retailer B wants to build awareness for a specific product brand.
  3. Retailer C creates a new Shopping campaign and wants to accrue traffic before further optimizing their campaign.

Your bids must be competitive to receive the most traffic. Use the Maximize Clicks bid strategy to automatically adjust bids to optimize for click traffic within your given budget. See more on Maximize Clicks.

Once your campaign has accumulated enough data, you may consider switching to an eCPC or Target ROAS bid strategy to start optimizing for conversions instead of traffic.

 
Layer bid adjustment modifiers

Whether you’re using Smart or manual bidding, be careful to consider all segment-level performance differences in addition to your bid strategy. Capitalize on strong performance or prioritize segments by increasing bid adjustment modifiers for specific device types, times, locations, and/or audience lists. If you want to focus on driving more mobile traffic, for instance, increase the mobile bid adjustment modifier. Note that the Target ROAS bid strategy already optimizes bids automatically based on a variety of factors, including device and user location, so you won’t need to manually adjust modifiers with this solution in place. Find out more about bid adjustments.

3. Build a robust Shopping campaign structure

Your campaign structure is the foundation for driving your objectives. Think about what you want to accomplish across your different product areas and how you can organize your entire product inventory to align with these varied goals.

Segment products into a tiered, relational tree

Create relational ad/product group divisions in a tiered, broad-to-narrow structure. This approach will:

  • Provide total bid coverage by capturing your entire inventory
  • Give your bidding system more ad/product group data to inform bid optimizations
  • Create better visibility into performance reporting
  • Align bid management to your objectives
  • Simplify account management
  • Prevent wasted investment on item IDs or small ad/product groups that have little to no activity and warrant little to no changes to their bids.

Use traffic and performance data to determine the right level of granularity and group your products by how likely they’ll perform similarly to reach specific objective targets. The more traffic there is in each product group, the better it will be. Try to avoid product groups that have a small number of clicks.

Start with broader divisions using attributes like product type and Google Product Category (Category). If there is enough data and a need to justify more divisions, you can continue segmenting your products further with the same or more focused attributes. The brand attribute, for example, can be used for more brand-centric businesses. In your final tier, item ID, custom label or brand are more focused attributes that can be used to hone in on specific products. Be wary that using the item ID will greatly restrict any more relational product group divisions. For instances where you can’t reasonably infer performance, put those products into their own group to gather more insight. See the example below and read more about attributes available for product group subdivisions.

Product Group Subdivision Suggested attribute for dividing products
All products 1 Product type, Category
       Apparel 2 Product type, Category
               Shirts 3 Product type, Category
                        Luxury Brand 4 Product type, Category, Brand
                               Product ID: 123456789 Final Product type, Category, Brand, Custom Label, Item ID
                               Everything else in 'Luxury' brand Final Product type, Category, Brand, Custom Label, Item ID
                        Everything else in 'Shirts' 4 Product type, Category, Brand
               Everything else in 'Apparel' 3 Product type, Category
       Electronics 2 Product type, Category
               Laptops Final Product type, Category, Brand, Custom Label, Item ID
               Tablets Final Product type, Category, Brand, Custom Label, Item ID
               Phones Final Product type, Category, Brand, Custom Label, Item ID
               Everything else in 'Electronics' Final Product type, Category, Brand, Custom Label, Item ID
       Everything else in 'All products' 2 Product type, Category

 

As an example, let’s look at a campaign structure for a retailer who sells men’s shoes and a smaller selection of men’s accessories.

 

Product Group  Max. CPC  Description 
All products                                                                 $1.00 Targets all products in inventory
         Men's shoes                                                       $1.00 Targets all men's shoes using product type
                 Boots                                                                $4.00 Targets boots using product type
                 Sneakers                                                          $2.00 Targets sneakers using product
type
                 Everything else in 'Men's shoes'                   $1.00 Targets remaining products in men's shoes
         Everything else in 'All products'                            $1.00 Targets remaining products in inventory

 

As a whole, the retailer will be able to glean valuable insight into performance for their parent Men’s Shoes product group as well as their child product groups: Boots, Sneakers, and everything else. The retailer maintains visibility by creating a system of bids to cover all products, no matter what bucket they fall into. This relational structure also captures new product additions to their inventory without having to create new groups.

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to your advertising goals across your inventory. The nuances of the right campaign structure and bid strategy combination will vary from retailer to retailer. But, fundamentally, using traffic and performance data to inform your structure and bids will be essential to reaching your objectives.

Leverage Shopping campaign priorities

Use campaign priorities to your advantage. Campaign priorities won't affect your search relevance or influence the likelihood of your product to show for a specific query. Rather, priorities are a useful feature to set which products and their corresponding bids are most important to you.

For example, a jewelry retailer may choose to prioritize competitive bids from a seasonal campaign containing Mother’s Day products by setting the campaign priority to “high.” This way, the retailer’s bids will remain strong against competitors’ when they activate the campaign for Mother’s Day. See the example below:

Campaign                                        Status Default Max. CPC Description
#1 Mother’s Day Seasonal Campaign
(High Priority)
Eligible $5.00 Targets only Mother’s Day products using custom label
#2 Bestsellers Campaign
(Medium Priority)
Eligible $3.00 Targets top-selling products using custom label
#3 Core Campaign 
(Low Priority)
Eligible $0.50 Targets entire product inventory

 

Use a “high” campaign priority setting to ensure that the products you’re most interested in promoting get the traction they need. Your “high” priority campaign should contain the products that will make the largest impact and drive your top campaign objectives with a separate budget. This prioritization will remain until you change the setting back to “low” or your budget is depleted. To exclusively target specific products for this campaign, you can:

  • Use the ”Excluded” option on your “Everything else” product groups to bid only on the items you specified in a given ad group. You can “exclude” product groups by clicking in the “Max. CPC” column of your “Campaigns” or “Ad groups” tabs. To minimize potential bid conflicts, we recommend having no more than 100 “Everything else” product groups.
  • Apply an inventory filter to limit the items in a given ad/product group by specific attributes or custom labels. Learn more about using the inventory filter.

For accounts with multiple campaigns, it’s especially important to have a catch-all core campaign. Create a “low” priority campaign with all products or the long-tail of remaining products that are not captured by your higher priority campaigns to ensure complete product coverage. This acts as a safety net by making sure your products are always serving in the auction when higher priority campaigns reach budget caps or unexpected issues occur. Read more on campaign priorities.

Create language-specific Shopping campaigns

If you advertise in multiple languages for the same target country, you may want to create separate campaigns for each language by using custom labels. For example, if your target country is Switzerland, you may set up a custom label that uses the values "German" and French". This will allow you to set your budget, bids, and negative keywords by language. Learn more about custom labels.

Combine your Shopping campaign structure and bid strategy

Now, let’s put this into practice. How can we combine a relational campaign structure with a bid strategy to drive your top objectives? Here are a couple possible arrangements:

Example of campaign objective to drive ROAS goal

A home decor retailer has a separate budget for their top products with an aggressive ROAS target while maintaining an efficient ROAS target for the rest of their catalog. In order to deliver on their objectives, the retailer separates their top-selling products into a “high” priority campaign using the inventory filter and applies the Target ROAS bid strategy. The retailer also has a “low” priority core campaign, which contains all their products, with the Target ROAS bid strategy. Each campaign is broken into product groups based on similar product performance using the brand attribute to drive their top-line objectives and provide complete visibility into performance.

Product Group Campaign    Bid Strategy Description
All products (filtered)  #1 Bestsellers
(High Priority)
Target ROAS Targets top-selling products using custom label
All products (filtered) >
Luxury Brand
#1 Bestsellers
(High Priority)
Target ROAS Targets luxury top-selling products using brand
All products (filtered) >
Everything else in ‘All products (filtered)’
#1 Bestsellers
(High Priority)
Target ROAS Targets remaining top-selling products
All products #2 Core Campaign
(Low Priority)
Target ROAS Targets entire product inventory
All products >
Luxury Brand
#2 Core Campaign
​(Low Priority)
Target ROAS Targets luxury products using brand
All products >
Everything else in ‘All products (filtered)’
#2 Core Campaign
​(Low Priority)
Target ROAS Targets remaining products in inventory

Example of campaign objective to drive traffic

An electronic retailer has new budget to drive as much traffic as possible to their Holiday Sale. They exclusively target their Holiday Sale products in a “high” priority campaign with the Maximize Clicks bid strategy. Within the new campaign, the retailer breaks out two product groups of interest to evaluate traffic performance. This campaign will run alongside their other campaigns, which capture all products to maintain total inventory coverage and drive other campaign objectives. In this example, if the retailer sees strong mobile performance, they will also increase their mobile bid modifier in addition to their current Smart Bidding strategy.

Product Group Campaign   Bid Strategy Description
All products (filtered)  #1 Holiday Sale
(High Priority)
Max Clicks Targets products in holiday sale using custom label
All products (filtered) >
Computer accessories
#1 Holiday Sale
(High Priority)
Max Clicks Targets computer accessories using product type
All products (filtered) >
Phone accessories
#1 Holiday Sale
(High Priority)
Max Clicks Targets phone accessories using product type
All products >
Everything else in ‘All products (filtered)’
#1 Holiday Sale
(High Priority)
Max Clicks Targets remaining products in holiday sale
All products (filtered)  #2 Bestsellers 
(Medium Priority)
eCPC Targets top-selling products using custom label
All products  #3 Core Campaign
(Low Priority)
eCPC Targets entire product inventory

4. Differentiate bids based on audience

Whether you’re looking to achieve performance or traffic objectives, you can add a layer to your campaigns to differentiate your bids based on your target audience. You may exclusively bid on returning traffic by applying the Target and bid setting to serve your products only to shoppers who fall within your audience lists. However, this can limit your scale by restricting your reach to a smaller audience list. Instead, differentiate bids for returning traffic while maintaining your current bids for new traffic by adding remarketing lists to your current campaigns with the Bid only setting.

Target and bid

Show ads only to people associated with these lists or categories, with the option to bid on them. 

Bid only

Add these lists or categories so I can set bids on them, but show ads when my other targeting methods match.

 

This setting will allow bid adjustments for reaching your returning traffic while continuing to serve your ads to all shoppers who are searching for your products. Apply bid multipliers based on the value of each customer segment to your business. For example, you may apply a +100% bid multiplier for an audience list capturing previous buyers because they have higher customer lifetime value to your business, versus a +10% bid multiplier for a customer who visited your homepage and bounced. As your remarketing lists grow and gather traction, continue to use data to inform your bid adjustments. For more guidance, watch our video on how to add remarketing lists.

5. Optimize your Shopping campaigns for success

Once your ads have had time to collect enough data, you can start using competitive metrics like benchmark CPC, benchmark CTR, impression share, and click share as well as tools like the Bid Simulator to assess your performance, hone your bid strategy, and make informed decisions. Read more about monitoring and optimizing your Shopping campaigns.

Monitor your products

Regularly look into the Products tab to uncover areas of improvement and resolve any issues. For example, you can ensure your top products are eligible to show by filtering for the highest clicks or conversions and viewing the product status columns.

Item ID Title Clicks Cost   Avg.CPC Product Status
123456 Acme Trail Running Shoes 576 $345.11 $0.60 Ready to serve
12345687 Acme Lightweight Training Shoes 552 $236.79 $0.43 Ready to serve
5678613 Acme Natural Form Running Shoes 342 $155.22 $0.45 Ready to serve
5645868 Acme Low Impact Running Shoes 158 $76.21 $0.48 Disapproved
4896135 Acme Training Shoes 119 $40.33 $0.34 Disapproved

 

Pay attention to your overall product count and approval percentages to flag any disapprovals early. See more insights.

 

% ready to serve Products ready to serve % active Products active % approved Products submitted Products submitted
92.08% 1,105 94.16% 1,130 95.63% 1,150 1,200

 

Get more conversions for the same cost

Subdivide your inventory to create product groups that align with your top performers. You can then use conversion tracking to optimize your bids further. For example, if a product group has a low cost-per-acquisition, you can increase your bid to get more conversion volume and spend more of your budget to get more conversions. In the opposite way, if a product group has a high cost-per-acquisition, you could lower that product group's bid to reserve your budget for product groups that can give you more conversions at a lower cost. Another way to determine what bids to set for your important product groups is to use the Bid Simulator, which can give you performance estimates for particular bids. Learn more.

Review competitive metrics

Competitive landscape data is a good place to start identifying opportunities to optimize your campaigns. When looking at your reports, we recommend segmenting by device as the competitive landscape can vary significantly. Try these tools in your Shopping campaigns:

  • Click share is the best metric for getting a sense of your position relative to your competitors’. A lower click share with a high impression share indicates that you may not be showing in the top results to drive valuable clicks. Look for ways to differentiate your ads and adjust bids accordingly to capture more click share, especially on mobile where limited screen size drives more visibility and traffic to top results. You can download or schedule a report to get click share by device. Learn more about click share.

     
    Product group      Campaign                Max. CPC Cost Clicks Click share
    All products (filtered) #1 Seasonal Campaign
    (High Priority)
    Auto: $5.00 $193.20 345 50.20%
    All products (filtered) #2 Bestsellers Campaign
    (Medium Priority)
    $3.00 (enhanced) $52.80 160 30.15%
    All products #3 Core Campaign 
    (Low Priority)
    $0.50 (enhanced) $11.22 51 11.3%
    Show rows: 50   1 - 3 of 3

     
  • Impression share can help you make sure your ads are reaching as many shoppers as possible. If your impression share is low and you’re earning a profit from the impressions you do get, you may want to increase your bids or optimize your data quality to earn more of those valuable impressions.
  • Auction insights will allow you to compare your performance with other advertisers who are participating in the same auctions that you are. This information can help you make strategic bid and budget decisions by showing where you’re succeeding and where you may be missing opportunities for improved performance. Find out more about Auction Insights.
  • Benchmark CTR and Benchmark Max CPC show how your product groups stack against your competitors. If your CTRs and max CPCs are lagging behind the benchmarks, you’ll know that you need to improve your product data so your ads are more relevant or adjust your bids so you’ll be more competitive. The competitive performance data you see is aggregated and averaged so that it’s anonymous.
  • The Bid Simulator can show you what your results might have been in the past week if you’d set higher or lower bids. Try using this tool for mobile specifically to understand your missed opportunity with more competitive mobile bids. See more about the Bid Simulator.
Strategically use negative keywords

Negative keywords can be an effective tool to avoid showing your products to the wrong shopper. However, adding too many negative keywords may significantly reduce overall or relevant traffic and can often hurt performance unless they're carefully reviewed on a regular basis. Learn more about negative keywords.

We recommend only using negative keywords to prevent your products from showing on completely irrelevant queries. For example, a retailer who only sells dress shoes will not want to show up for a query like “sneakers”. They can add “sneakers” as a negative keyword to their campaign. To optimize your campaigns for specific queries, try using eCPC or Target ROAS to show on relevant traffic.

Conclusion

Your Shopping campaigns are your shop window, your front-door greeter and your lifeline to today’s constantly-connected shoppers. Keep them top-notch and up-to-date, and consumers will respond with their attention and their dollars. Then measure and optimize your results, so that shoppers can tell you what they find most useful and compelling. Good luck!

 

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