How to Care for Your Shopping Campaigns #SMX

Ecommerce paid search pros! This is the moment when SMX West becomes all about you!

Moderator Ginny Marvin (@ginnymarvin), Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land


  • Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk), Owner & Minion, ZATO
  • Purna Virji (@purnavirji), Senior Client Training and Development Manager, Microsoft
  • Susan Wenograd (@susanedub), Sr Manager, Accounts & Ecommerce, Clix Marketing
Ginny Marvin Purna Virji Susan Wenograd Kirk Williams
From left: Ginny Marvin, Purna Virji, Susan Wenograd, Kirk Williams

Kirk Williams: Setting Up Shopping Campaigns for Success

Initially, if we think of how to optimize our shopping for the future, the cold, hard reality will eventually hit: you can only optimize as far as you stop that. Don’t be a dung beetle, who starts with dung and optimizes that. He’s going to suggest a setup strategy that sets up success.

Why is your current campaign setup bad? Because, bidding. You’ll bid the same for general queries as you are for long-tail high-intent queries.

Is there a way to setup campaigns so you’re not bidding on products but rather separating queries by intent? Yes! This idea was originally shared by Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty).

Filter shopping queries by four essential aspects:

  1. Campaign priority
  2. Negative keywords
  3. Shared budget
  4. Product bids

Six things learned:

  1. Ad groups trump product groups. “Let’s make keyword funneling great again.” Because of negative queries you can filter the queries in campaign structures.
  2. You Be You. SKU might not work for you, and that’s OK. Identify natural query groupings by profit.
  3. Bids can overrule priorities. (Google no-likey timid bidding.) Be aware you can’t bid so low you’re not appearing in the auction anymore.
  4. Beware of dangling negatives. This might be a query that comes through and it’s horrible and you don’t want it to appear (like the letter “M”). Add [-m] to non-brand, branded and all other campaigns.
  5. The Bing effect. You should be importing your shopping campaigns into Bing because it’s really easy to do. But there’s no shared budget in Bing and he explains that this can cause a problem with general queries jumping into your campaigns, so this kind of ruins the strategy on Bing.
  6. It takes a while to soar. You have to get your client/boss on board. It takes time, build out time, but it’s awesome.

Susan Wenograd: Google Shopping Ongoing Optimizations

Let’s assume you have something set up. Now what do you do with it?

Paid search tools can often feel like a bunch of valves and you can tighten and open up different levers and valves. Shopping campaigns are like a fire hose. You tell the search engine what NOT to match to.

Air Traffic Control: Query Mapping

Negative keywords all the tings. Create negative keywords to funnel search queries towards the groups that are the most profitable. This ties back to ad groups being more important than product groups. Ad groups give you the control to negative and match queries where you want.

Don’t Burn Money: Structuring for ROAS

Evaluate your strongest ROAS performers. This is where Ad Groups come in handy vs. Product Groups. Test grouping strong ROAS ad allocating budget.

Remember, there is no Product Group tracking in Analytics.

Also note: you are not bidding on a search query. You are bidding on a product.

Evaluate product attributes beyond standard feed fields:

  • Inherent attributes: physical attributes
  • Client-made attributes: seasonal, sales, determined by the business as an attribute that accounts for business decisions

Use custom labels so you know what ad group to place a product in. You’re not limited to the labels they give you. Although, there will be products that could possibly live in different ad groups. So, plan your structure ahead of time. When you have the right structure, where something should live is a lot easier to figure out. Structures can evolve over time as you analyze performance. Granular tends to be better.

Bid Strategy Fussing

There’s no one best way:

  • Manual CPC
  • Maximize clicks
  • Enhanced CPC
  • Target return on spend (newish; your mileage may vary)


A missed opportunity: if you have physical storefronts and you show inventory in a store, set up a bid modifer to a radius around your physical locations to capture nearby searchers.

Make sure your Google My Business is linked to your AdWords. Regularly evaluate performance by distance.

Check out seasonality wins and weak spots.

Wrapping it up:

  • Query map and negative keywords like crazy.
  • Consider grouping items based on ROAS/margin to drive how aggressively you bid.
  • Utilize Custom Labels to create more specific groupings and increase your control.
  • Evaluate mobile user performance based on distance from physical storefronts.
  • Evaluate mobile performance vs. competition.

Purna Virji: 3 Shopping Campaign Tips That Would Make Paris Hilton Proud

The first mental image that comes to mind when she thinks of shopping is Paris Hilton. So we’re going to take inspiration from Paris.

Our agenda:

  1. Labels are important — feed optimization
  2. Don’t be boring — creative optimization
  3. Hire bodyguards — defensive strategy

Labels Are Important

Custom labels give you more control. Utilize optional attributes for more powerful segmentation.

Heres an optimization for product feed and campaign organization. There’s nothing wrong with this structure:

OK shopping campaign structure

But this is more efficient:

better shopping campaign structure

  • Bids can be applied independently
  • Targeting adjusted to top geos
  • Increase budget for top selling products
  • Monitor low-inventory and move products out

Here’s a checklist of possible custom labels:

  • Price range (like: high end, low end, sale)
  • Popularity (like: high demand, low demand)
  • Profit margin (like: high, low)
  • Stock level (like: limited supply)
  • Seasonal products (like: winter clothes, swimwear)

Don’t Be Boring and Dress Cute Wherever You Go

Make sure your shopping campaigns look good. This comes down to picture, price, store. The picture is what jumps out. Don’t use boring colors. Check to see that your product image stands out in the field.

Core creative elements for shopping ad image:

  • Show multiple colors
  • Show product in use
  • High resolution images

Bing research has showed that white background tends to perform better. You can’t use text on an image. If there’s more than 60% white space, your image might not show.

These are the core creative elements for a shopping campaign: image, price and enhancements.

  • Start with regular price
  • Add sale price
  • Or price competitively against each other

Core creative elements for a shopping campaign ad extension/enhancement:

  • Use local, product reviews and merchant promotions
  • Use promo text
  • Create more than one ad per ad group

Hire Body Guards: Defensive Strategy

Key defensive strategies:

  • Negative keywords
  • Campaign priority settings
  • Bids and bid modifiers

Negative keywords save you money. Campaign priority settings let you prioritize high/medium/low and filter products. Bids and bid modifiers through custom labels will allow you to focus the majority of your time and energy on the items that work for you. Adjust by smartphones and tablets, “everything else,” and geographic bid modifiers.

Bonus tip: misattribution is not hot. One of the top pet peeves they see at Bing is importing a shopping campaign from Google but not updating tracking codes.

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

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If we think of how to optimize our shopping for the future, the cold, hard reality will eventually hit: you can only optimize as far as you stop that. Don’t be a dung beetle, who starts with dung and optimizes that.


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