Following the October Google Shopping transition, more than 100,000 retailers have stuck around to play in the new product-based CPC advertising channel. If you’re one of these retailers, then the following tips and best practices for Product Listing Ads (PLA) campaigns heading into Q4 are for you.
One of the most important things to understand about PLAs, arguably the most important thing, is that they are organized by a CPC bid hierarchy. That means that whatever ad groups you have set up in a PLA campaign, the one with the highest bid will outrank the others.
What does this mean moving into Q4?
1. Optimize Your Best Seller Ad Group
If you don’t already have your PLA ad groups set up to elevate best-selling products, brands, and categories you should really get on that.
Think about this one in the frame of a brick and mortar store. Merchants display more popular products more prominently as they are more likely to be purchased. Oreos are put on the ends of an isle instead of products like wheat germ, because more people will buy Oreos than those who even know what wheat germ is.
If you want people to be able to see your best selling products, categories, and brands (Oreos), than you need to make them more visible (put them at the end of an aisle) by putting them in their own ad groups with higher bids than your other ad groups (wheat germ).
What converts well for your site? Make campaigns based on those brands, categories and SKUs.
An easy way to identify those best-selling products is through Google Analytics. To do this, you’ll want to look at a sold SKUs report, which you can access through Conversions> Ecommerce> Product Performance> Product SKU:
2. Create an Ad Group for Seasonal Items
If you're a merchant with seasonal items this is a great time to create a new ad group to push those products and increase conversions for the holidays.
Let’s go back to the brick and mortar metaphor for a moment. Think about what concrete stores look like during the holiday season. Where are holiday related products displayed?
Just like best-selling items, you want your seasonal products to show up on PLAs because consumers will be more likely to purchase them around the holidays.
Although you can’t identify seasonal items in Analytics like you can sold SKUs, you likely have an idea of what converts well during Q4. If you're a merchant that sells clothing for example, creating an ad group for jackets and hats would be a good holiday strategy for Q4.
Remember when you’re creating an ad group for PLAs, you need to identify those product targets through the data feed. If you want to create a holiday ad group for winter apparel for example, you might add the adwords_label ‘winter apparel’ to products in the jacket and hat categories. Or you could create ad groups for both of those categories through the product_type column.
3. Keep Traffic, Revenue & ROI Consistent: Monitor Your Average Position
Q4 is a competitive time. Add to that the increasingly competitive nature of PLAs with Google fully paid, and you’ve got some serious aggression going on.
A fairly easy way to stay competitive is to keep an eye on what your average position is for ad groups that perform well. If your average position changes and you haven’t done anything, it’s likely that other merchants are increasing bids, so you need to do the same to stay competitive.
To see your average position for ad groups, go under the Dimensions tab and select Performance> Avg. Pos.:
Keep in mind that it isn't always within your ROI goals to have a top five Avg. Pos. Some categories are more competitive than others, and certain merchants may have larger PLA budgets than you do, different ROI goals, etc. It’s definitely helpful to have ad groups in the top five Avg. Pos. group for conversions, but that isn't always reasonable depending on your ROI.
4. Use Day of the Week Dimensions
One really cool thing about AdWords is that it allows you to track day of the week dimensions. This is something which can help you optimize your PLA campaign based on what days of the week (and times if you want to get even more technical) produce more sales, so you can modify your budget and bids accordingly.
To view Day of the week dimensions, select Time> Day of the week under the Dimensions tab:
Looking at your day of the week data, you can identify what days and times convert the most, and increase bids for those periods. If you see more conversions during the weekend for example, you can create a rule to increase your bids and your budget during that time to potentially get even more conversions.
To increase bids during select time periods, select Advanced Settings (at the bottom of the page)> Ad scheduling> Edit under settings:
From there you can modify when and how much you’d like to bid:
For Q4 this is even more important because of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, days which will generate significant amounts of site traffic and sales. You’ll definitely want to increase bids during these days to get visibility for your products.
Have anything to add? Share your thoughts in the comments below.