google_shoppingAs you’re no doubt aware, Google made some major changes to its Product Listing Ad (PLA) management system in 2014, transitioning over to Google Shopping campaigns. With this change, Google’s been busy adding new features to help retailers better manage their image-based ads behind the scenes. For example, you now have access to advanced reporting features and competitive landscape data. Plus, it’s easier to update your product data and create promotions.

To help you get the most out of your Shopping campaigns, here are six essential tips you’ll want to have on your radar.

Ensure Data Feeds Are Up to Date

The quality of your data is essential, since it dictates where your ads will appear. Make sure data feeds are up to date with the help of Feed Data Quality tools. This feature will alert you whenever the data in your feed doesn’t match your website’s microdata. As a result, you’ll avoid wasting ad spend on products you can’t sell. Ensure feed titles and descriptions are optimized so your products match relevant user queries. Use a Keyword Generator to help you identify new opportunities and optimize titles and descriptions based on how consumers are searching for your products. And send your feeds to Google on a regular basis. Google likes retailers that send accurate data consistently, and may give these ads more prominence.

Learn to Dive Deeper

Create far more effective and relevant ads by making your product groups granular enough to get you maximum exposure as well as prevent you from underbidding on competitive products. Include all relevant information in the product attribute columns, since these are directly linked to search queries. Include more detailed information with custom labels by including attributes like condition, best sellers, clearance items, profitability and seasonality. You can then use these values to monitor, report and bid within your campaigns.

Add Negative Keywords

Based on the queries that are triggering your ads, add negative keywords to your ad groups so that your ads don’t show up in searches that include words such as “free” or “review.” Adding negative keywords will ensure you’re showing your products only to interested parties. By excluding irrelevant or general queries, you can greatly improve your campaign’s performance. For example, if you sell TVs, exclude the keyword “repairs” so your ad doesn’t come up in queries for “TV repairs.”

Take Advantage of Google’s New Benchmark Tools

Impression Share enables you to see the percentage of impressions you received out of the total number you’re entitled to receive. This can reveal areas where you should be spending more. If impression share is low, consider upping your bid. Low impression shares don’t always indicate opportunities to drive more conversions, though, so keep checking to determine how effective changes are. The Benchmark Max Cost Per Click (CPC) shows you how much other advertisers are spending on bids for products similar to yours in your product groups. This can help you see how competitive your bids are for certain product types. Benchmark Click-Through Rate (CTR) allows you to see how your click-through rates compare with competitive products. If low, you may need to look at the quality of data in your feed or increase bids. A low CTR can also mean your ads are coming up with the wrong types of queries. Monitor performance closely.

The Bid Simulator

Another useful Shopping campaigns tool, the AdWords Bid Simulator can help you see how different bids affect traffic and then estimate what your results could have been if you’d bid differently. It uses factors such as quality of ads, competitive bidding and product attribute data to estimate clicks, costs and impressions. To use this feature, you’ll need products that have generated enough data.

Create Quick Google Merchant Promotions Google Merchant Promotions

Google Merchant Promotions allow you to include information in your PLAs such as promotion codes, custom promotion titles and applicable dates — for no added cost to you. Improving your ad visibility and giving customers even more reason to click, Merchant Promotions should help you increase conversions. Instead of leaving your product page to perform a last additional search for “coupon code,” shoppers will have that information at their fingertips. You’ll be able to capture them at the “last touchpoint” by converting them during the original product search query. And if you’re running a promotion, make it worthwhile. Google is more likely to display a Merchant Promotion within an ad if there’s real value to the customer (in comparison with the ads surrounding it). Offers like mail-in rebates and small price reductions won’t cut it. But “20% off” or “Free accessory bundle” will.