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This week’s PPC Chat session was hosted by Kirk Williams which shed light on managing shopping ads, testing bidding automation solutions in Shopping Ads, and PPCers thought on smart shopping and more.


Q1. Do you actively manage Shopping Ads, or, are you new to Shopping and hoping to learn more in this chat? There has definitely been a lot of change in Shopping Ads land over that past 12 months. Good to remember some of them, let’s talk bidding?


I “manage” them, but dear god I need to learn more.@JonKagan

Right now, we don’t manage Shopping campaigns. I’d like to learn how to manage them more effectively – tips and tricks. @adwordsgirl

Hoping to learn. I don’t have much experience with direct ecom clients.@JuliaVyse

One notable update was the changes to how promotions are setup through GMC and the interface. There’s a lot more options for unique promotions to increase cross selling, maximize LTV, get rid of extra inventory, etc.@KempThoughts

We haven’t run Shopping Ads in some time, but we’re interested to see what’s changed recently.@marccxmedia

I actively manage Shopping Ads, primarily in the fashion and household goods spaces.@Pamela_Lund

Mostly on the technical setup end of it (feeds, analytics etc.) @mrlevyelad

Manage for a number of usa brand. Talking with a few more the last week.Including a few Canadian brands.@duanebrown

I was just working on shopping campaigns for clients in fact today. I enjoy learning from how other folks work with different campaigns.@lchasse

Yes! Almost all of our clients have some form of Shopping campaign running. Mostly on Google, but we have a few that run on Bing as well. @CountXero

Actively manage them. Have been running Shopping Ads since the days when it was free and happy in Google Product Search (yes, Shopping Ads used to be free). Also, always learning about them! @PPCKrik


Q 2. Let’s talk P12Mo Shopping Ads changes. What is new or notable that you think is worth calling out in Shopping Ads (late 2018 or upcoming 2019 changes accepted!)?


I am stuck in the emotional glass case of still struggling to deal with the new @GoogleAds UI and how much it slows down anything and everything.@JonKagan

Smart shopping ads is the biggest thing. @lchasse

The new UI seems interesting! .@marccxmedia

We’ve loved most of the newer features; however, one update really did a number of one of our clients who had issues with their resellers using fake UPCs.@CountXero

I get a kick from additional verticals coming in constantly (automotive, travel etc.) A PITA to handle but great value overall. @mrlevyelad

Seems like we have more updates coming fastest for shopping ads everyday @duanebrown

Now that a feed is optional and it can scrape a site, I’m able to pitch it alot more! @JuliaVyse

There has been a lot, but a few of my fav call-outs:@PPcKrik

– updated Promo tool in GMC
– Bing auto-feed Import from GMC
– The New UI
– Price Benchmarks
– Smart Shopping campaigns

Sort of? We know that we need to be a good partner ourselves, but it’s quite a bit to get acquisition teams to think about member engagement. Often they’re shunted off to a whole new team once they sign up. @JuliaVyse

That is a good point… sometimes other teams or people may be doing that work already.@duanebrown

Smart Shopping, obvs. 😉 @Pamela_Lund

Smart shopping ads is the biggest thing.@lchasse


Q3 . Are you testing bidding automation solutions in Shopping Ads? Any takeaways or learnings to share with the class? What do you love, what do you hate about what you have tried?


I manage several smaller e-comm clients where getting to the minimum recommended conversions over L30 to use smart bidding is a struggle, resulting in me not being able to test much. Curious how others handle this?@KempThoughts

We are testing eCPC and TROAS primarily in Shopping. We have been finding success with TROAS but it does seem to vary widely, especially when you adjust the targets. eCPC has always stunk for us. Always reverted back so far.@PPCKrik

One that surprised me was a target ROAS test on a high volume shopping campaign and finding that performance actually declined, but we have seen success with eCPC for that same campaign and others of similar volume . @jlash_digital

The rare success with eCPC!. @Pamela_Lund

Also, campaigns for clients with heavy seasonality seem to really mess with bidding automation. It seems like the algo can’t figure out monthly shifts and take advantage of big months/chill out in low months.@Pamela_Lund

I have had great success with automated bidding for mid-to-high volume clients. Smart Shopping works really well for them, though I wish I could see *why* and *what* so I could apply learnings to other campaign types.@Pamela_Lund

As for other automation…I rarely get the results I want from target ROAS. I only have 1 client that max conversions is working really well and that’s a DSA campaign, not Shopping.@Pamela_Lund

Also, something that should be obvious but isn’t somehow. If you decide to run eCPC, make sure your conversion tracking WORKS. Campaigns using eCPC w/ no tracking boggles my mind. :\ .@timmhalloran

lmao the frequency with which I see this happening is mind boggling.@Pamela_Lund

it’s classic newb mistake since Google pushes ECPC as default, but not everyone gets conv tracking nailed down. boo on both accounts. @PPCKirk

When I worked as an analytics freelance I always said that if Google’s/FB’s documentation became readable I’d be out of work .Luckily enough it didn’t @mrlevyelad

I have one client I have been using the full-on smart shopping. Out of the gate it increased ROAS, however, lately it’s been not so great and I don’t like that I can’t make any bid adjustments anywhere to fix it. Plus it seems very reliant on your daily vs. bids.@steph_woods

Coincides a lot with my findings too, we’ll be getting specifically into Smart Shopping soon! @PPCKirk

If memory serves, we tended to have some bid automation running across several products.@marccxmedia

Absolutely. We are an automation loving shop at @FangDigital. Our motto is that the humans are here to clear a path for the robots.@CountXero

If ROAS is good…. always testing tCPA or another strategy to see if we can bring some automation into our work flow. @duanebrown

ROAS is my preferred one so far, but I keep testing them to see what works the best. With ROAS, I do find grouping products based on their performance works well. @lchasse


Q4. In the brave new world, do you still find advanced manual bidding/segmentation strategies (or others) like Query Filtering to work for you in Shopping? Share your findings!?


Also, I believe we did do some manual segmented targeting in a few Shopping campaigns.@marccxmedia

I wish we could truly make sure the brand shopping campaign only gets brand queries. Managing that is sometimes a pain. @360vardi

Related to my A3… automation isn’t a great option for SMB – so I still find success with making manual adjustments through the product type/profitability segmentation in my campaigns. Layer this with a set of rules that you can flip through to make your adjustments .@KempThoughts

I think that manual strategies still have a place, but I try to work within the mindset of combining them with automated strategies to (try to) get the best out of both worlds @jlash_digital

yes, advanced manual bidding and segmentation is still the clear winner for several accounts. I use a lot of filters 🙂 high spend – poor performance, low visibility, etc.@lchasse

That being said, when seasonality is involved I do get more granular so I can easily pause/activate or add/exclude b/c Google will serve products on some queries that I’m like ??????? @Pamela_Lund

I err on the side of less granular management with Shopping, even when I am doing manual bid mgmt. Even though it’s “shopping” I see a lot of research/top of funnel stuff happening that doesn’t always makes sense but ends up leading to profitable sales.@Pamela_Lund


Q5. It’s Smart Shopping time! What are your thoughts? Like or dislike? Explain your answer?


Short(ish) answer: SS can win short-term at ROAS, but major concerns about profit longevity, scalability, audience (how much is remarketing?) and placement control for branding.@PPCKrik

I love Smart Shopping for high sales volume clients. It has done very, very well for a few of mine. However, I want query data and more customer journey info so I can inform non-Shopping strategies, even if I can’t add negatives or exclude placements.@Pamela_Lund

I haven’t tested Smart Shopping yet…any advice for a high volume account, with narrow margins, following the 80/20 principal for profitable products? @jlash_digital

We haven’t worked with Smart Shopping yet but are interested in learning more!.@marccxmedia

For once, I think Google has created something that works. Most advertisers just leave their Shopping running by itself, so Smart Shopping taking over works pretty weel. However, we haven’t seen cases where Smart Shopping beat our own campaigns. Furthermore, the lack of control is insane. We saw one advertiser at Xmas that spent $10k on the 20th. 100% ROAS vs normal 1200% ROAS. Smart Shopping couldn’t predict that they stopped shipping on the 19th. And that’s just one example of where the lack of external data sucks. @AndrewLolk

Smart shopping looks like it works really well, but my problem is I don’t know what is actually working? It could be mostly remarketing and not shopping itself. Where are our ads showing up (content)? Not enough transparency for me. @lchasse

We’re liking what we see so far, but as a few others have said, it’s usually better for the high volume/high data clients. @CountXero

One problem I have with no negatives in Smart Shopping is that I have clients that legally can’t advertise on certain brand names (and even one that can’t advertise *on their own*) so we can’t use S.S.@Pamela_Lund


Q6. Prediction Time: If Smart Shopping / New UI happened in 2018, what do you think will be the biggest change to Shopping Ads in 2019?


I think G is going to try to get rid of feeds and rely on site crawls in the not-too-distant future. Which would be good for some, terrible for others that require labels and custom segmentation.@Pamela_Lund

I hope we’ll see better video integration with Shopping. yah we have video + shopping ads/campaigns but I’d like it to feel more cohesive and strategic. @Pamela_Lund

I think there is something larger on the horizon that these things are teeing us up for. Dealing with voice search and shopping hasn’t completely been sorted out yet, so that might be the big reveal.@CountXero

Saw others say this, but I totally agree. Google will want to get rid of the feed. There are too many errors in feeds. It also will open up shopping to everyone much easier and not have to rely on addons that break, etc… @lchasse

oooooo! Well, I think Amazon’s data-driven design & Facebook’s Marketplace ads will inspire more automated, smart-shopping type options in Google. I think building the Local Inventory ads into Local campaigns could easily happen.@JuliaVyse


Q7. What do you think of Google opening up PLAs to appear in organic search? What impact do you see this having on paid Shopping Ads, if any?

It’s too early for us to make strategic changes. I don’t expect it to disrupt ads too much, but think it will be more advantageous on the organic side of things. PLAs will likely still be loud and proud at the top getting lots of paid clicks.@PPCKrik

I think this is fantastic for people managing Shopping. It makes it that much more important to have a good feed in GMC. Then again, If you have a supplemental feed, will the organic results pull from that?@markpgus

I think they will do what Google wants them to do. They will drive more clicks and they may be better clicks. We will see, as my only hope is that folks who are selling online can make more revenue with the changes. @lchasse

I try to look at things holistically so as long as revenue is increasing for the company and ads are supporting the overall goals, it’s cool.@Pamela_Lund


Q8. For those who run Shopping on Bing as well, what is something you like about Bing Shopping? What is something you would like to see changed?


I am DELIGHTED about how easy the GMC Feed import is into Bing now. Gamechanger for easy feed management in clients. Also, the kew STR in the Keyword tab is fabulous as well. Now we NEEEEEED to be able to see product groups and set bids at a campaign or account level. @PPCKirk

I find that Bing converts well but, as always volume is an issue. My other complaint though is that they get way too generous with their broad serving. Like showing ads on one word things that they assume as misspellings like “show” when you’re advertising shoes.@Pamela_Lund


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