By Robert Simpkins

Google Shopping has cemented its role as the driving force behind many a large retailer's digital acquisition programmes. From its humble beginnings as a “nice to have” campaign for online retailers, Google now gives shopping ads pride of place on the SERP, and seems to forever be increasing the number of products that show in the headline unit. Staying on top of shopping performance for campaigns housing thousands of products can seem a daunting task, however it’s a task that has never been more important. This article provides five top tips on how to do just that.

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1. Pareto’s Law

The Pareto principle suggests that for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The 80/20 rule applies to Google Shopping too. If around 80% of your profit is generated from 20% of your products, that’s where you should put the majority of your efforts. Ensure these products are split out by product ID, segmented into brand and generic terms (using negatives and campaign priorities) and constantly review product group bids, bid adjustments and search queries.

Pareto's Law

2. Brand v Generics

When Google introduced campaign priority settings to shopping campaigns, clever advertisers saw this as an opportunity to claw back some control over search terms their product ads were eligible to show for. This allows you to bid differently for brand and generic, much the same as you would for keyword campaigns. When you have a large inventory with multiple brand names, take a download of your product feed, pop all of the brands into a shared negative list and apply to all generic shopping campaigns. Monitor your search query reports and keep the shared list updated with all brand terms.

3. Track profit

It still baffles me that so many advertisers work towards revenue targets when profit is likely to be their key metric. This issue becomes particularly prevalent with large inventories when margins between products are so contrasting. Splitting out high and low margin products using custom labels is inefficient, when the focus should be on tracking profitability per conversion for all campaigns. This can be done in a number of ways e.g. offline conversion tracking, custom variables in DoubleClick Search, or by simply passing profit data straight into your conversion tag as opposed to revenue. Doing this allows you to focus on the products that are driving the most profit.

4. Custom labels

When you have so many products to focus on, it’s hard to know where to focus, so this handy feature can be your best friend. I like to ensure I have my products split out into qualitative groups such as season and bestsellers, as once again, it allows you to focus on the most important products. A handy tip is to use a custom label to segment the top 10 profit driving products for your business, and put them in their own high priority campaign. This means that we can focus on maximising traffic to these products, and even look at segmenting individual search terms for these products using negative keywords. 

5. Automate stuff

This one has been left until last, but is perhaps the most important. I could write about all the different ways of improving efficiency in the management of Paid Search accounts through automation until the cows come home, but that’s not what this blog is about. The key thing here is automate stuff! Think scripts, alerts, reports, formula columns, bid strategies etc. If there’s one way of managing thousands of SKUs in a shopping campaign, it’s letting the computers do the hard work.

Automation

The key to running shopping campaigns that are associated with large inventories is to use your time wisely. It’s not possible to manage everything in a highly detailed manner, so use all of the tools at your disposal (as mentioned above) to help focus your precious time on what is going to be most beneficial to your business.

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