Costly Mistakes to Avoid: Google Shopping Campaigns

Google Shopping Ads appear in their own box and above or to the right hand side of text ads and organic results. Similar to text ads, Google Shopping Ads work on a cost-per-click basis meaning that you’re only charged when a user clicks onto your advert and lands on your product page.

Shopping ads tend to be more appealing to users because they show rich information such as a product image, pricing, product name, your business name, promotional text, special offers and your seller rating, making the process of choosing where to buy a product from far simpler and less time-consuming.

Google Shopping Campaigns Image 1


Setting up Google shopping campaigns for the first time can be quite a daunting task, especially when you first set eyes on the Google Merchant Centre.

Yes, it is daunting, the smallest mistakes during set up and management can result in an under-performing and costly shopping campaign and nobody wants that, obviously.

Since Google shopping campaigns are a daily feature for our Paid Marketing team, we figured we’d share our expertise to provide the most pressing (costly!) mistakes to avoid, along with our top tips for combating them. Without further ado…

Mistake #1 – Forgetting to check the search terms report & add negative keywords

While Google shopping campaigns don’t use keywords like other search campaigns, you can still access the search terms report to identify the terms that are matching your products. This is important as it’s your chance to check whether your ads have been showing at the right moments.

This knowledge can help guide you in making campaign structure changes, or to simply add more negative keywords to your product groups for any irrelevant and unprofitable search terms.

Negative keywords will ensure you reach the most relevant customers and prevent costly clicks from customers who are looking for something that you don’t sell. This, in turn, will help reduce your overall costs and increase your return on investment.

TIP: For a more advanced campaign structure, layer your campaign with negative keywords, campaign priorities and shared budgets (see mistake number 5!)

Mistake #2 – Forgetting to optimise product titles and descriptions

When Google is matching a search query and deciding on an ad position, the first keywords in the product title and description are weighted more. Google will scan your products title from left to right to make sure that the most important keywords or the highest converting terms are listed closer to the left of the product title. An example of a typical format for clothing would be ‘Brand, Gender, Product, Size, Colour’.

It can be a common mistake to always lead with the brand name, as the brand name might not be the best performing keyword for your business.

TIP: Check your search terms report to identify how users search for your products and arrange your keywords in a similar way, avoiding the status quo.

Mistake #3 – Neglecting to use Google Merchant Centre special promotions

Merchant Centre special promotions allow you to add a ‘Special offer’ tag beneath your product listing ad, making your product look limited and even more appealing potential customers. Special offer tags can greatly improve campaign performance, helping you to optimise click-through rate and cost per clicks.

If you’ve got a discount or delivery offer available – it is definitely worth shouting about.

Google Shopping Campaigns Image 2

TIP: It can take a couple of days for Google to review and approve merchant promotions, so make sure you submit your feed as early as possible to avoid missing out.

Mistake 4# – Poor segmentation and not using custom labels

To achieve a successful shopping campaign you need to segment and organise your products into logical, well thought out product groups, that are aligned to your business goals.

AdWords labels can be manually implemented into your product feeds, offering a customised segmentation attribute.

Custom labels will enable you to label and segment your products in a way that is unique for your business. For example, you could label your products based on best sellers, low sellers, products on sale, profit margins, seasonality, price buckets etc.

Having an organised and well-defined campaign structure, that is unique to your business, will give you more control and greater flexibility in bid budget management, and improve data analysis which enables you to identify trends for specific groups of products.

TIP: Don’t get carried away with the segmentation and create more product groups than you can manage. Each product group bid needs to be managed manually, which can become a time consuming task when you have hundreds of product groups to manage on a daily basis.

Mistake #5 – Not Using the ‘Campaign Priority’ feature for campaign segmentation

The campaign priority feature is one of the most powerful features when used correctly. Google shopping campaigns can be set up with high, low or medium priority. Therefore if the same product appears in more than one campaign then the highest priority campaign wins, regardless of the CPC bids.

As Google shopping campaigns don’t use keywords, the only way to control search queries is by using negative keywords to block irrelevant searches. By combining campaign priority with negative keywords, you can achieve a thoroughly segmented shopping campaign structure.

You could segment brand, generic and product specific searches into three separate campaigns. The benefit of this set-up is to achieve granularity, control, and improve analysis.

Something like this…

Campaign Priority

TIP: Remember to use a shared budget. This will prevent traffic from being diverted to an alternative campaign if one campaign reaches its daily budget faster than another.

Just an example of segmentation outcome using Ray-Ban Sunglasses:

Google Shopping Campaigns Table 1

This is just one example of how useful campaign priority settings can be. For a less advanced structure, you might just want to segment brand and generic searches. For this, the same principle applies, but create two campaigns instead of three and only use the high and low priority settings.

By making clever use of the priority feature, negative keywords, different bids per campaign and a shared budget you can really increase your ROI from Google Shopping Campaigns.

If you manage to avoid all of the pitfalls listed above and Google shopping campaigns will become a breeze. The key to a successful shopping campaign is a lot more than just having an optimized product feed, it’s also about creatively using and combining shopping campaign features to achieve a well-defined and organized campaign structure that is aligned with your business goals.

We’d love to know if you think that there’s anything we’ve missed, or if you have any handy tips of your own for setting up Google shopping campaigns. We’d love to hear from you over on our twitter, @silverbean or in the comments below.