I've come to the conclusion Google loves fall. Although Google's headquarters are in Silicon Valley, the company has consistently made major changes to its paid advertising program during the late summer months.
In July 2012, Google finalized its switch to Google Product Listing Ads from formerly free retail traffic on Google search (Google Product Search). In October 2013, Google unleashed Local Product Listing Ads. Similarly, this August marks the cut off date for retailers to switch to Google's Shopping Campaign program, which is replacing Product Ads.
Time is quickly running out for retailers using Google Shopping to switch to Google Shopping Campaigns.
Google Shopping Campaign Switch Timeline
Here's an outline of the changes you need to make for for Google's Shopping Campaigns prior to August.
Before you start switching your Google ad campaigns for the Shopping update, be sure you understand the differences between PLAs and Shopping Campaigns, and why Google is updating ads.
Once you understand Shopping Campaigns, follow the timeline above to ensure your Campaign is built out and tested before the August deadline. Note the dates for campaign switch steps are suggestions to help you make a smooth transition to Shopping Campaigns. Many retailers have already started to use Shopping Campaigns with an average conversion rate improvement of 16 percent.
Follow the steps below to transition to Shopping Campaigns before August.
1. Change Your Inventory Labels
Google creates ads for search using information about your products communicated through the Google Merchant Center or AdWords using your Inventory file. Product inventory is communicated to Google in this file based on Google's required attributes such as product price and description.
Google Product Ads use AdWords_labels in your inventory file to create custom ad groups. Retailers who want to create ad groups for products outside of Google's default labels (Brand, Category, etc.) can assign parameters using this column, such as Best Seller or Greater than $60.
Google Shopping Campaigns also allow retailers to create custom labels using their inventory file. However, instead of AdWords_Labels, Shopping Campaigns use the Custom Labels columns. Retailers have the option to create up to five custom labels using Shopping Campaigns Custom Labels 0-4 (one per column).
Retailers switching to Shopping Campaigns should:
- Decide which custom labels to use for the new Campaign (up to 5).
- Change those AdWords_labels columns to custom columns in their inventory file
You don't need to delete the AdWords_Labels column in your inventory file. Google's Shopping Campaigns will simply ignore the AdWords_Labels custom column when identifying attributes for ad groups.
2. Create Google Shopping Campaign
Google Shopping Campaigns are replacing the existing Product Listing Ads Campaign format.
To create a Google Shopping Campaign in AdWords, select your chosen campaign and click + Campaign in the Campaigns tab. Then select the 'Shopping' campaign format option:
3. Pause PLA Campaign
Once you've created your new Shopping Campaign, remember that your old Product Ads are pulled from the same place as your Shopping Campaigns – your product inventory. If you keep both campaigns running you are potentially cannibalizing your own ad exposure and conversions.
If you aren't sure how to break out your Shopping Campaign, consider running your old PLAs for a couple of days while you structure your new Campaign (keep bids low).
Ultimately, you want to pause your PLA campaign and let Shopping Campaigns run.
You can pause a Campaign by selecting the down arrow next to your individual campaign and choosing 'Paused':
4. Copy Your PLA Campaign Settings
Depending on your campaign priorities and budget, you'll likely want to use the same campaign setting for Shopping Campaigns as you have with PLAs. If you haven't yet broken out PLAs extensively, Shopping Campaigns is the perfect opportunity to expand your campaign and increase exposure and conversions on Google Shopping. Remember to always create and test ad groups based on Analytics and AdWords performance data.
You can find your Campaign setting information under the settings tab:
Remember Shopping Campaigns break out each subsequent ad group from the All Products ad group, or your entire inventory file. Each ad group you create is a subset of the one before it. Consider what ad groups you want to create under your All Products ad group carefully as they will form the structure for the remainder of your campaign.
5. Change Bids
Once you've broken out your Google Shopping Campaign, continue to test different ad groups and bid amounts to maximize your ROI. Use new features available with Shopping Campaigns, such as Max Bid and Impression Share, to determine how often your showing up for relevant searches and make bid changes.