Throughout its brief life, Google Shopping always ran alongside its PLA sibling.  While it was initially unclear what the future held for the two, Google recently announced that the life of PLAs is officially coming to a close. Soon enough all product listings will transition into Google Shopping, which will become the new standard.

As a result, advertisers will be required to transition away from the trusty Product Listing Ads and into the new platform. Of course you may abstain in protest, but we saw how that went with enhanced campaigns.

It isn’t all bad though. Google Shopping brings a welcome array of new features, empowering you to make better decisions while cutting down on the grunt work associated with advertising your products.

New Features and Metrics

Google shopping now collects metrics at the product level. Rather than solely tying performance to an ad group, you can now view performance down to the product level. This will make it very easy to retailers with large inventories easily analyze product performance at the most specific level.

Google Shopping also provides a few new pieces of data. These include benchmark CTRs, benchmark CPCs, and impression share metrics. You shouldn’t bet too heavily on them, but these metrics at least give you a better sense of the advertising space.

Impression share is always valuable; giving you a gauge of how often your ads show in eligible auctions. If performance turns for the worst, you can check your impression share and see that by bidding 50 cents, you are only showing in 23% of auctions. You may also revisit these metrics after you’ve made changes to see how they altered the ratio

When it comes to bidding, the benchmark CPC makes it easy to find an appropriate bid level. This benchmark provides data on the average CPC for similar products from other advertisers.  The benchmark CPC is available in each product group. You will find segmenting these groups even further provides a much clearer picture of bids.

The other week I noticed one of my top campaigns was on a slight decline after weeks of steady performance. After rummaging through the campaign I looked at the benchmark CPC and found that a competitor must have recently pushed up bids. What used to be a $0.85 CPC was now $1.20 CPC week over week.

Using this I was able to start putting a picture together and begin formulating a solution. While it won’t always be your go-to metric, it is helpful in narrowing in on a range of the bids you are facing.

More Flexible Campaigns

Instead of building a campaign, ad groups, and targeting the ad groups to specific products, Google Shopping launched with the ability to house everything in one campaign. For this reason, (it can catch you off guard) when you click on the inventory tab of a campaign, it will list all of your products, even if you are not currently advertising them. In order to select products to bid on, you will need to use product groups.

Product groups are very easy to set up and allow you to quickly put products from the feed in appropriate groupings. Even better, since metrics are recording at the product level, you can segment and re-segment to your hearts content and not risk losing any relevant data.

Product groups are built around different aspects of the feed. These include type, brand, ID, labels, etc. These groupings segment even further and can operate at multiple levels. In the case of apparel, you may start by brand and further segment this group by shirts, pants, jackets etc. Each product group has its own bid associated with it allowing you to easily set bids as broad as “all products” down to a single SKU.

One thing to always check for when you create a product group, everything else gets put into an “everything else” product group. While it may be worth your time to run all products at a low bid, many times you don’t want these products appearing in that particular campaign. Make sure to click the bid input box for “everything else” and exclude it from bidding.

There was a weakness to this system though. With all the power derived from product groups, they existed at the campaign level. While different bids could be applied to different parts of the campaign, all negative keywords were applied at the campaign level. This made it difficult to do anything meaningful with negative keywords, without resorting to potentially creating one campaign per product group.

Google heard our cries and enabled the ability to create ad groups within campaigns.  Products groups maintain all of their benefits but are now housed at the ad group level. This not only allows the easy addition of negatives, but the ability to use ad groups to structure your product groupings and segment the campaign even further.

I’ve had success with my Google Shopping campaigns so far. How about you? Are you happy with the changes or is the transition going to throw a wrench in your system? Of course we can expect to see even more features added over time, are there any particular features that would lead you to migrate to Google Shopping right away?