Setting up Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Google Shopping can be a complicated process. Below I outline some of the top mistakes online merchants should look out for when setting up and managing Google Shopping.
1. Waiting Until October to Set up Product Listing Ads
Let’s be honest, Google Shopping is pretty intimidating. But doing nothing or letting other merchants get the jump on you isn’t helping your campaign. Overused platitudes and trademark violations aside - just do it!
Pro Tip: You can always rely on the safety net of setting a low campaign budget if you're worried about spend, and not very knowledgeable about product ads. As long as you set up ad groups under your main PLA campaign, they will always be restricted by that campaign budget, no matter how many you set up. In the example below, the budget for each Ad group: Ad A, Ad B, Ad C, etc. is restricted by the PLA campaign budget of $20 a day:
When setting up PLAs, AdWords will prompt you to identify your budget under Bidding and Budget:
And if you already have PLA campaigns set up in AdWords, you can change your daily ad budget in that campaign folder by clicking Edit:
2. Confuse PLAs and AdWords Ads in the AdWords Login
PLAs and AdWords Ads all live together in the AdWords management center, but it can sometimes be confusing differentiating the two types of campaigns. Make sure you know what type of ad you're setting up or modifying.
Pro Tip: An easy way to quickly filter out existing PLAs is to select the Auto Target tab:
When creating a new PLA campaign, be sure to specify which type of ad you want to set up, depending on your AdWords account this will be at the bottom of the campaign setup page under Ad Extensions:
Old vs. new (Google AdWords), for both make sure you select PLAs.
Or at the top of the page:
3. Manage Google Shopping Like AdWords
AdWords and Product Listing ads are both managed through the AdWords client center, and they both appear on Google Shopping and Search, but that’s largely where their similarities stop.
Ketchup is not a vegetable, don’t treat it like one. Manage your AdWords ads based on keywords, and manage your Product Listing ads with product, category, brand (etc.) and AdWords_label specific bids, based on the past performance of these products in Google Analytics.
Pro Tip: The AdWords_label in your Google Shopping feed can have a virtually unlimited number of variables. Use it to group products such as top performing products, worst performaing products, etc.
4. Manage Google Shopping Like Google Product Search
Google Product Search was largely a set-it-and-leave-it type of campaign. Other than optimizing your feed and landing pages, there wasn’t much you could do to increase visibility on Google Product Search.
In contrast, paid comparison shopping engines (CSEs) like Google Shopping require weekly (if not daily) campaign management. If you’ve already set up PLAs, you should actively check on which ad groups are performing well, and identify specific products, categories, brands, etc., to elevate or exclude.
Pro Tip: Use Google Analytics to determine which products perform well on the CSEs to set up PLAs.
5. Track PLA performance through AdWords Alone
While AdWords is a valuable source to identify clicks and spend, you’ll definitely also want to use Google Analytics to temper that data, identify revenue metrics, and break down performance for each of your ad groups.
Pro Tip: You can break down PLA campaign performance in Analytics under Traffic Sources > Content > Search > Campaigns, to find your specific PLA campaign and view specific AdWords campaign performance: