Now that October is finally here, the fall shift to paid Google Shopping has many online merchants scrambling to create their Product Listing Ads (PLA) campaigns in AdWords, which is no easy feat if you’re trying to troubleshoot issues.
One thing you may quickly discover when setting up your PLA campaigns is that Google AdWords support isn't exactly supportive. Unfortunately, they’re slow, generally misinformed, and stress inducing (although very friendly!).
So with the intention of saving you time and effort sorting through issues with AdWords support, here are three of the main issues you may encounter when setting PLAs and how to fix them
Auto Targets Won’t Validate!?
The satisfaction associated with seeing that little green validation arrow in an auto target is more vindicating than that first sip of coffee in the morning. Rivaled only by the frustration of an auto target that won’t validate, which may make you want to Hulk Smash that cup.
Before you start smashing indiscriminately though, here are some quick fixes which might save you some serious support interaction time.
1. Does your auto target match your product type, brand or AdWords labels exactly?
Exact. Match. Seriously. No extra spaces, no plurals, none of that malarkey. AdWords is very finicky when it comes to validation.
You may also want to avoid longer auto targets (shorten your product type if it’s too long) and special symbols such as ampersands (&), as both can cause validation issues.
2. Do you have filters enabled?
If you're managing PLAs within an AdWords login where there had been a previous campaign running, and or someone else is managing AdWords, this is a validation issue which you're likely unaware of and may have you pulling out giant chunks of your hair.
As a rule of thumb, take a quick peek at the filter tab in your campaign, which you can find under the main ad tabs:
If you see the option to create a filter (as above), then you should be golden.
If you select this tab and there are filters set up (as in the screenshot below), than this is likely the source of your issue. Once you remove said filters from your campaign (don’t remove from all campaigns unless you know those filters aren’t being used anymore) you should hopefully be able to validate your PLAs.
Don't delete the ad extension associated with your PLAs, as every PLA campaign needs an extension.
Alternately, you can check the Google Merchant Center extension filters by going to the Ad Extensions tab, clicking the extension you want, and making sure the filter (advanced option) isn’t checked:
Check out Google’s explanation of filters also.
3. Does your PLA campaign have the correct extension associated with it?
Every PLA campaign needs an Ad Extension associated with it. So if your AdWords account isn’t linked to your Google Merchant Login, make sure you take a second to do that.
You may also have multiple Google Merchant login accounts, so double check to make sure the Merchant ID under the Ad Extensions tab matches the one in the Google Merchant Login you’re using.
Mea Culpa Google
Before we get carried away with the torches and pitchforks, it must be noted that Google AdWords support can be and is helpful under the right circumstances. As notoriously awful as Google Merchant login support is, Google AdWords support is exponentially easier to contact, and much more responsive.
PLAs have traditionally been a small subset of AdWords management, and support seems to be doing the same thing many ecommerce merchants are – scrambling to get information and know how about PLAs.
However, if you do need to contact Google AdWords support with any sort of high level inquiry (which you can do via chat, email or phone) be prepared to be transitioned to email, and be aware that the first couple of solutions they present you with likely won’t be relevant.
Support will ultimately contact a higher level of support “experts” and relate their solution (which usually works) to you. Why that second tier of support isn’t accessible to merchants beats me, but ultimately support tries, so although they may take a bit longer than you’d like, they usually pull through. And did I mention they’re very nice?