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In this week’s PPCChat session, experts talked about Stranded vs Smart shopping, the performance difference between Google Shopping & Microsoft Shopping Ads, what is the future of shopping ads, and more. This session was hosted by Julie F Bacchini & guest host Kirk Williams.

Here is the screencap:

Q1: To help any beginners here: what makes Shopping different from Search, and what are some things to keep in mind when managing Shopping Ads?

Lots of differences! There are important policy differences such as your landing page requiring a visible price and add-to-cart button. Also, they’re feed-based rather than keyword based in terms of how Google finds your customers. @PPCKirk

Pretty product, worse CTR, lower CPC, less control, higher CVR. It is literally like going to a casino and playing bingo. @JonKagan

Remember, it’s still based on people looking for what you have. So your research, audience personas and directions work. But the tactics and implementation will have a lot more to do with your product feeds, pricing and what is on your landing pages. @JuliaVyse

Of course, if someone is completely unfamiliar with the ad type, it is the visual ad type on the SERPs (as opposed to the text based ads) that contains specific details such as an image, price, ratings, etc. @PPCKirk

One difference is the actual ad unit itself looks different. You’ll also need a Google Merchant Center Account to run those shopping ads. Title and description are your proxy for keywords. @BrettBodofsky

ooh, there’s a lot…shopping is feed based & requires up to date product info on every landing page where search is keyword/dynamic LP based, there’s different policies on shopping v search, shopping can require a more dynamic strategy/flexibility than search too. @jennifer_lash

Shopping is really its own animal, despite being classified as part of search. The ads look different in a search results page too – shopping ads are mostly image and title, whereas search ads have titles and descriptions and extensions. @NeptuneMoon

No keywords or text ads. a shopping feed takes care of all of that. You can still have multiple campaigns, multiple ad groups and product groups to help with bidding and data collection. @selley2134

Feeds vs intent vs ad types vs how they’re triggered vs how they’re managed. Also I am an expert in one and definitively not in the other (which is one of the many reasons why @PPCKirk and @duanebrown are invaluable PPC friends) @amaliaefowler

Also, the competitive landscape is different and important to be aware of (how it impacts CPCs, Conv rates, impr share…) @jennifer_lash

Haven’t seen this called out yet: No keywords! But you can see [significant] search terms for standard shopping campaigns. But I am sure smart vs. standard will be a Q. @cjsoldwisch

The main difference between Google search ads vs Shopping Ads is that search ads are a form of “pull” advertising while shopping ads are “push” advertising! @gupshupblog

Beyond GMC, show images on ads and pulling in your SKU data. I tell new team members and clients. Forget everything you know about Google search ads. Shopping ads is often the complete opposite. @duanebrown

Search ads only appear to those who are already searching for your product or service, while shopping ads are paid placements that appear based on product feed and keywords! @gupshupblog

Not enough brand and agencies look at SKU optimization. Making sure you only sell the right SKU in shopping. Pausing SKUs is ok. Next level, is figuring out should brands even sell that SKU on their site. Not all SKUs are created equal @duanebrown

The latter goes into cash flow and making sure you don’t have money sitting on a warehouse skid somewhere for product. The faster you can turn over product and make a sale. The faster you can grow a business and be profitable… if you don’t sell items at a lose. @duanebrown

Q2: Standard vs. Smart Shopping (SSC)? In your experience, who wins and why? Any commonalities you’ve found as to when one works better than the other?

Our best ad accounts run a mix of standard and smart shopping. Unless you in the beta and check the feature, smart shopping includes remarketing audiences. 90% of the time we start with standard shopping and see what the market is like. So many brands @ day 1. @duanebrown

Standard. or Standard plus some small smart campaigns. Having control of search queries & bids is huge (using priorities & negative keywords) – which you lose in Smart for the most part. Smart does include some dynamic remarketing so that helps boost performance. @selley2134

Oh man, how much time do we have? Definitely a raging debate. I think SSC performs remarkably well these days, but losing data is still a major issue, especially for newer companies trying to get off the ground. I typically prefer to use both in our accounts. @PPCKirk

It comes down to budget – if you have budget Smart, if not regular. I would not do Smart shopping unless I had at least $30K per month to invest. @navahf

I love/hate Smart Shopping. Absolutely no control of it. It does poorly for me 75% of the time. But when it works, my god, it works. @JonKagan

I mostly use standard, but have been testing SSC the last few years where I can. I’ve seen SSC work very well for top performing products when they’re in their own campaigns, but I’ve also seen it crash+burn when products in SSC aren’t pre-qualified @jennifer_lash

As others have noted, we tend to run a mixture of both. SSC does an impressive job of finding users across multiple channels and keeping CPCs way down. It’s hard to go up against that, but the data loss is real (and important, esp for new advertisers). @PPCKirk

I feel like my answer to this “best” is constantly evolving. I like the control of traditional but like the consistency of results with smart. I’ve seen SSC outperform when products are handpicked for SSC with great creative to support. SSC is worth a test! @cjsoldwisch

I think SSC has gotten way better over the years, but I still typically start with standard and then expand into smart shopping when I have enough data to know where to start from a product/product group perspective @jennifer_lash

We’ve run incrementality experiments and interestingly SSC doesn’t have a higher lift. My assumption is the reliance on remarketing? Def going to re-test though. @rreuben91

I’m just here to read. @amaliaefowler

Q3: What are examples of ways SSC (smart shopping campaign) removes data from reporting, and do you think this is a problem? Why or why not?

You name it, SSC hides it! Admittedly there are some ways to find some of this, but audiences (prospecting or remarketing) are hidden, search terms, channel data (mostly). @PPCKirk

It’s a problem, because we use that data for more than simply optimizing the campaigns that they are in. It’s valuable business data that we often use to assist our other marketing efforts. I hope this returns! @PPCKirk

Not having visibility into search terms for Smart Shopping campaigns is frustrating. If it can be captured with standard shopping you’d think it’d be possible for smart shopping. I like using Shopping keyword data to inform decisions on search. @BrettBodofsky

Where to start? Quite a bit missing: search terms, networks (SSC runs on all), audience use. I am finding there are ways around _some_ of this through custom reports. It’s not perfect, but it can help deliver some insight into SSC. Releasing content soon @cjsoldwisch

Anytime there is valuable data to be had, but our ability to access said data is limited, I find that to problematic. @BrettBodofsky

Removes anything you care about. We have 2 brands we run SSC in Oz, North America, Europe and UK. The difference in performance is crazy for each brand/ country. Would be great to understand more why that is happening within smart shopping. @duanebrown

The things that I’ve struggled with the most is the lack of transparency on audiences and search terms @jennifer_lash

I think a major concern for us is always how much brand is playing a role. Pro-tip, Google reps can manually remove brand. @cjsoldwisch

Removes search queries – that’s the big one. Other things like placements are more difficult to find, but there is a way. Yes, its a problem IMO. Some queries are more valuable than others. Shopping can be a good keyword research tool. @selley2134

Agree that we don’t get to see a lot (anything really) and that it is a problem, however it also invites the consideration whether we humans are mucking up our own campaigns with our interference. @navahf

Hang on, let me spin this around. Show me how they are transparent with their data first. @JonKagan

Q4: Have you developed or found any interesting ways to see some of this data again?

Not anything that I use consistently – very interested to learn what others are doing for this! @jennifer_lash

I’m just going to sit back and indulge on the responses to this question. Very curious what folks have come up with. @BrettBodofsky

Custom reports! Some dimensions pull metrics, but you see a lot of consolidating done – example, might see cost, clicks, ROAS for a dimension, but it is consoliated to cross-network. Some data is there, but it’s obfuscated. @cjsoldwisch

Gerry rig reports and GA data @JonKagan

AFAIK there is no way to get search term data, at all. Prospecting vs Remarketing can SOMEWHAT use your new vs returning report in GA, though this is likely not telling the whole story…@PPCKirk

Channel data can somewhat be seen in the Attribution section, but I’m curious about how accurate this is. @PPCKirk

Q5: What should we know about Microsoft Shopping Ads? What differences do you see in performance vs. Google Shopping?

Microsoft shoppings bidding works differently. You usually have to bid a lot higher than Google to see traction although the CPCs don’t match up to the bids. Also there is just less inventory in Microsoft. @selley2134

The bing shopping (damn it, it isn’t microsoft, it is bing), completely baffles me on what/how it decides to trigger. @JonKagan

It struggles for most clients…. a lot just have search ads running. Have a new client we testing it out with again next month. They are doing high 5 figures just on Google shopping, I hope Microsoft works out too. @duanebrown

There are certain differences in the feed (when you’re setting up your auto-import you can tell @MSAdvertising to account for that). I personally love their shopping ads and see better results (if fewer due to market size) than #google shopping. @navahf

Importing Campaigns + Feed is EASY BUTTON for getting started live. Serving is typically VERY low. Think, 1-10% of your Google Shopping campaigns. We find ROAS is typically similar, though conversion rate tends to be higher in Microsoft. @PPCKirk

I’ve had Msft shopping work super well for a few clients that have only their top performing campaigns on Msft and at a much lower spend than Google. Also the bidding situation is different on Msft v Google, and there’s just less inventory overall @jennifer_lash

Q6: What do you think is an under-valued tactic to help grow Shopping Ads in 2021?

Audience and HHI targeting. Just because you searched for it, does not mean you are going to get it. Therefore, I dont want you looking at my goods. @JonKagan

Using customer match with shopping campaigns! This is an easy way to get more value out of existing customers, as well as seed a high value prospecting audience. @navahf

Making sure you break up your SKUs correctly. There is a long tail with shopping ads and having to many SKUs in a campaign can hurt you performance. There are lots of brands & agencies who don’t know this and it is unfortunate.… @duanebrown

From what I have seen. Priority settings & Inventory filters are under-used. The one that gets me, that I see way too often is 1 campaign with 1 ad group containing all products. IMO to GROW shopping you cant use only Smart. @selley2134

@duanebrown had a great thread on feeds, but determining when to rebuild/restructure both feed and account can really change returns. Think: total overhaul? feed edits only? campaign breakouts only? @cjsoldwisch

I think re-inventing your campaign structure endlessly is important as things go more automated. If SSC doesn’t work, people say “it didn’t work” and pause it. Try it with another set of products targeted to a unique audience type you can build a great SSC ad for. @PPCKirk

Proper campaign segmentation based on something data-related: ROAS, product margin, profitability, avg conv value, whatever your client wants/needs to focus on…audience targeting, understanding that not every single product needs to or should be served @jennifer_lash

Less of a tactic, more of a strategy dev idea, & I know this is not a new thought, but look at business needs/objectives *first* then look at what data we have available to describe/point to those objectives and build strategy off of that. @jennifer_lash

Q7: What do you see as the future of Shopping Ads? What should we be watching out for – what are you paying special attention to?

Look at more Shopping Plus. The big shopping engine warehouses, delivers and even makes products. So look for Google partnerships with OTHER retailers, look for cross-channel integrations, look for more options fast approaching. @JuliaVyse

This may be loaded coming from a CRO oriented brand: email capture will be clutch. There is no knowing how much longer we will be able to do “dumb” remarketing off of website victors (dynamic remarketing). Build easy to convert experiences – the rest will follow. @navahf

I imagine google will take another crack at marketplaces at some point. I believe express is still a thing but very little use so may try revamping which could add a whole level to shopping. & of course more automation – Possibly something feed related? @selley2134

I mean honestly, the future is now. It literally no longer needs us to operate. @JonKagan

A full on integration with YouTube would be pretty amazing. Like the ability to have little, static clickable ads right on your YT content for the items and related items in the YT content. @NeptuneMoon

Showcase Shopping ads is DOA on Thursday/April 1st. Watch out for performance changes The future is how Google can shove Shopping ads in more places. Every ad platform has shopping ads now. It’s the future of our industry for ecom. @duanebrown

In-platform check out (like google express, not sure if that’s still a thing it’s been a while), video assets, the degradation of feeds?? @jennifer_lash

SSC only is a not-so-distant future. Learning how to optimize and make the best use of now will only help you later. @cjsoldwisch

Q8: How do you think the recent Google privacy changes will impact Shopping Ads?

Hot take – it won’t. the privacy things are easily solved by just housing the data and not sharing it with us. people who want products and can afford them are still targetable. @JuliaVyse

I ask them all the time and I keep getting this… @JonKagan

Less “dumb” remarketing, more clever cross-department collaboration to nurture first-party audiences into customers (while honoring the 5-domain set and 8 events per FB pixel maximum) @navahf

Not sure it will impact shopping as much as the other channels. Other than more of a push to smart since this already contains remarketing anyway and hides audiences. @selley2134

I missed this question! I’m curious to see what happens, one hand it might really mess with remarketing (vital part of SSC), on the other hand, it might be the best way for Google to push people to SSC “we have all the best data anyway so use our automation.” @PPCKirk

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