It's not a secret that shopping ads are one of the most effective advertising options for e-commerce businesses. In fact, this is a major part of the work we do for our clients at Ernst Media.

I assume you already run a Google shopping campaign and want to know how to scale it. If that's not the case, you can check out the most common PPC advertising questions article first.


My name is Evan Ernst, and here is what I'll cover in this guide:

  • The Google Shopping Campaign Structure Elements
  • Two Basic Google Shopping Strategies You Can Use
  • A Couple of Advanced Shopping Campaign Strategies

Before we dive into that, let me answer one important question for those who are new to Google shopping campaigns.

How Do Google Shopping Campaigns Work?

As stated on Google's About Shopping Ads page:

"In contrast to a text ad, which displays text only, shopping ads show users a photo of your product, plus a title, price, store name, and more."

The great thing about shopping campaigns is that Google does most of the heavy lifting. Their system automatically creates ads for your products and matches them with relevant search queries. You can even automate your bidding strategy.

To start a Standard Shopping Campaign, you need to link your Google Merchant Center with your Ads account. Then, choose what you want to advertise from the product feed.

Each Shopping campaign should include several ad groups. Within that, you want to make sure that you’re dividing your products into the relevant groups.

But once you’ve set up your shopping campaigns, one thing remains unclear.


What Can You Do to Get Ahead of Your Competitors?

I mean, you can follow Google’s default recommendation to increase the CPC and raise the budget.

But spending money just for the sake of it will reduce your profits. If you're playing with Facebook, Instagram, and Google ads at the same time, you might not even have the extra buck for that.

That's why you need to structure your campaigns for maximum effectiveness. To be able to do that, you need to understand how priority options, ad groups, and product groups work.


Your Google Shopping Campaign Structure

To get the most out of your Google shopping campaigns, you should build and implement good campaign structures from the ground up. Here are the key elements you must focus on.

Google Shopping Campaign Elements

Shopping Campaign Priority Options

Within Google Shopping Campaigns, you have access to three campaign priorities. Here is how to utilize those for maximum effectiveness.

High

Ideally, you'd use high-priority campaigns for your newly arrived products, best-sellers, or clearance items. Usually, those products you'd want to be sold above any others. Basically, you're telling Google, "Hey, pick these products first, no matter what!"

Medium

Medium-priority is ideal for Google Shopping campaigns that point to product categories, product lines, specific regions, etc. They might not be the star of the show, but they deserve their moment to shine when the high-priority campaigns have had their turn.

Low

Lastly, low-priority campaigns would be your catch-all campaigns. These will cover all your products or your store in a single campaign. When there's no high or medium-priority campaign that matches search queries, these step up to the plate.

The point is to help Google decide which products to show to shoppers based on what's most important to your business at any given moment.


Google Shopping Campaign Ad Groups

Like Google Ads, Google Shopping campaigns have ad groups. You want to keep each ad group as compartmentalized as possible. Limiting the number of products will enable you to adjust bids and/or optimize quickly.

For example, you might have one ad group that's dedicated to high-end fishing gear, while another is all about budget-friendly accessories. This level of detail allows you to be competitive where it counts without overspending on items that can afford a lower bid.

Yes, this will probably lead to a ton of Google shopping ad groups you need to manage.

But you shouldn't be worried about it. Trust me, when each ad group is well-defined, optimization is a lot easier. This approach will also lead to more relevant ad placements and better click-through rates.

The more relevant your ad group is to the searcher's intent, the better your ads will perform.


Product Groups in Shopping Campaigns

Inside each of the ad groups within a Shopping campaign, you'll find product groups, a.k.a. inventory subsets. One ad group can have up to 20,000 different product groups.

These are segments of your products relevant to that ad group.

You can have one group for all your products or subdivide each group into 7 levels for maximum segmentation. Let me explain.

Product Type

This is based on your inventory categorization. Segmenting by product type allows you to bid differently on, let's say, "running shoes" vs. "hiking boots," even though they're both under the category "shoes."

Category

This is based on your site's category taxonomy or Google product categories. It's a broader classification that helps you manage bids at a higher level, like "Electronics" or "Home & Garden."

Item ID

This is based on the ID (identifier) of each of your products, which means you can get super specific. It allows you to push a best-seller or to lower the bid on a slow mover to maximize your ROI.

Custom Labels

This is based on up to 5 theme labels you can create, such as seasonal or low-margin. It gives you the flexibility to structure your campaign based on unique business insights and marketing strategies.

Brand

This is based on the product manufacturer. You can differentiate your bidding strategy based on brand performance. Set a higher bid for a premium brand or go lower for budget brands.

Channel

This is based on the sales channel where a product is sold. It means that you can bid differently depending on whether the item is sold "in-store" or "online."

Condition

This is based on the condition of the products (new, used, etc.). It's a very useful option if you're in a market where condition significantly influences a shopper.


So, these are the key elements of your Google shopping campaign structure. Now, let's discuss the basic strategies you can use for your shopping campaigns.


The Basic Google Shopping Strategies

The first two strategies for Google shopping ads are best suited for newbies. Since they involve creating a single campaign structure, they have some limitations.

However, they perform great under certain circumstances, so I've included them in this guide.

basic google shopping strategies

One Campaign with One Ad Group

Due to its simplicity, this Google Shopping campaign structure is often the first choice of e-commerce store owners. Occasionally, we also run single campaigns that include a single ad group for clients.

For example, let’s say you're starting an e-commerce biz selling just sneakers.

Since you only sell one product, the product group within your ad group wouldn’t be too technical. Obviously, it's also very easy to set up and monitor, so there is no point to get into details.

Again, this Google shopping strategy is great for beginners but very limiting in the long run. As you're increasing your inventory, more product data and a more complex structure will be needed to:

  • Identify which search queries are bringing in the most sales and focus on those.
  • Exclude poor performers from many products lumped together in the same product group.
  • Find irrelevant search terms and add those to your negative keyword list to sculpt queries.

One Campaign with Numerous Ad Groups

The next basic Shopping campaign structure is again a single campaign but with many ad groups. I'll still use the above shoe business as an example.

If you’re still just selling sneakers, you can create separate ad groups around product topics, such as price, brand, design, and popularity.

Another scenario would be if you've branched out into a variety of casual shoes.

You can now build one campaign that includes different ad groups based on product types (sneakers, sandals, loafers, etc.).

This campaign strategy gives you a clearer insight into which product types perform better. It also allows you to experiment with adding negative keywords to different groups.

Of course, being a basic strategy, it also has a drawback.


Since you’re running only one shopping campaign, all your ad groups will be sharing from the same budget pool. Thus, you won't be able to set different budgets for different product types.


Advanced Strategies for Google Shopping Campaigns

Now that we've covered the basics, I'll show you two of the advanced strategies we use when managing shopping campaigns for our clients.

google shopping advanced strategies

 

Multiple Campaigns with Multiple Ad Groups

This structure/strategy is ideal for online stores with a variety of product types or brands or for those that require tighter budget control.

In this case, our shoe seller, who now offers different products, will create separate campaigns. Each shopping campaign would be built around a certain category or type, while ad groups would focus on individual products.

Basically, each of your product groups/types will have its own budget. The idea is that tracking performance can be segmented based on these splits.


I must say that as an advanced strategy, this one involves a lot more time and effort to set up, monitor, and optimize. Something to keep in mind if you offer many types of products.


Three Campaigns - Three Priorities

As I mentioned, your campaign has three priority options. This advanced shopping strategy involves creating three campaigns, one for each priority (high, medium, and low).

The good thing about this structure is that campaigns are relatively easy to create and set up. On top of that, they give you much more control over your bids and performance.

Now, I must warn you that these benefits come at a higher cost. However, it's possible to utilize this strategy even with a limited budget. Here is what we do for such clients.

Let's say you can't afford to spend much on product ads or on any resources required to build highly granular campaign sets.

The first thing to do is limit the number of products in your shopping campaigns. You can use two methods to filter those:

  • Include only products with a high impression AdWords share.
  • Group products by popularity based on your online sales stats.

In other words, keep your campaigns small with products that bring you the best ROI for your budget. Then, as the sales increase, start adding to the budget to include new products.


For the Shopping Campaign Newbies

Shopping campaigns might be a little confusing at first for those who have only played with search campaigns in the past.

While your strategy in search campaigns is entirely based on search queries and keywords, you can't do that when using shopping ads.

Instead, you can set your bids based on your products. Then, while optimizing the product feed, you can use relevant keywords in titles and descriptions.

Give yourself some time to understand how Google shopping campaigns are structured, and you'll see that they're very effective. And if you don't have the time...We're here to help!

work with a boutique digital marketing agency to grow your business


Final Words

My goal with this article was to explain the campaign structure and strategies in a way that both beginners and folks with basic knowledge can understand.

There are many strategies you could try in the future. It's just that, in my opinion, adding all of these into one article will create confusion.

That's why I have another post covering 4 simple steps to optimize a shopping campaign.

My advice for you is to first learn how to play with product groups, product ads, negative keyword lists, etc. Once you feel more confident, you can build your own shopping campaign strategies that will work best for promoting your business on Google.


 

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