Google Shopping Campaigns vs. PLA Campaigns – First Look

Late last month Google announced the release of Google Shopping Campaigns. We’ve been able to get early access and have gone under the hood to see what’s new, what’s different, what’s improved, and what’s missing. Here’s our first look at Google Shopping Campaigns.

How to Create a Google Shopping Campaign

Initially, once you have been granted access, you will find  “Shopping” campaign added in the +Campaign button on your Adwords UI. Go ahead and click through on this and you will be taken to a relatively generic settings page.  how to create a shopping campaign in adwords

Note, if you are hoping to use the new Shopping campaigns with your Adwords API setup, or are just gung-ho in your use of Max CPA% bidding, a note on the settings screen informs you that you’re out of luck.  The note says: “This campaign type comes with a new tool that lets you intuitively organize and promote your product inventory using Product Listing Ads. If you require the AdWords API or MaxCPA% bidding for your Product Listing Ads campaigns, select the “Search Network Only” campaign type instead.”

Other than this, for the most part, you are going to set up your Shopping Campaign like every other campaign out there, except for a few key differences in settings.  Those settings differences are:



Difference Summary

  1. Merchant Identifier
  2. Country of Sale
  3. Shopping Settings (advanced)
    • Campaign Priority
    • Inventory Filter
  4. Shopping Channels



(1) Merchant Identifier

This is similar to what you would select in the “ad extensions” in choosing the correct Google Merchant Center (GMC) account to link to your account.  This one’s not rocket science, just find the linked Merchant Center account you want for this campaign and choose it.

shopping campaigns in adwords merchant id and country

(2) Country of Sale

Once you select the GMC account, you will be able to select the Country that you want your products to be displayed in.  Note, that you can NOT change the target country per campaign after the campaign is created so choose carefully!  Also, be sure that your products meet the requirements for your target country.  On the other hand, you probably already have a handle on this since you have been targeting that country anyway.


(3) Shopping Settings (advanced)

Here’s where things get real interesting.  There are a couple of new settings here that need to be pointed out.


Campaign Priority – This is an interesting little setting that determines priority for campaigns advertising the same product.  For instance, if you have an “All Products” campaign and also a campaign for just Nike Shoes, both of these are eligible for the same pair of Nike shoes.  In the past, which campaign fired for that product was determined primarily by bid.  Now, the Campaign Priority takes precedence over Bids.  Let me illustrate, let’s say you have an All Products campaign with a bid of $0.50, but priority is set to Low and you have a Nike Shoes campaign with a bid of $0.35, but the priority is set to Medium, then the Nike Shoes campaign will fire for that product.  Obviously, if two campaigns are set to the same priority, but have different bids, the higher bid will then win out.

This is important to understand (obviously) and appears like it could really help with campaign ranking hierarchy.  It should be noted that according to Google, all current PLA Search Campaigns are automatically set to “Low” (and there is no way to change them).

new inventory filter and priority in adwords shopping campaigns

Inventory Filter – This is possibly the brightest point for me of the new Google Shopping Campaigns in terms of campaign creation.  You can now set up to 7 different custom filters for your campaigns to filter your products immediately, before even touching one ad group product target!  Note, the screenshot pretty much explains it all, but you can now filter your campaign products into any of these: Google Category (multiple levels), Item ID, Brand, Condition, Product Type (multiple levels), and 5 different Custom Label Options (another new Shopping feature).  I’ll let your imagination run wild here, but this obviously opens up quite a new level of product grouping right off the bat in campaign creation.  The new “Custom Label Options” really put an interesting spin on things, as well.  It will be interesting as these are developed out how various businesses use these new custom labels.


(4) Shopping Channels

New channels option for google shopping campaigns

Finally, the last settings change is actually one now included in both Shopping and PLA Campaigns setup.  If you’ve set up a PLA campaign recently you are probably wondering what that new “Shopping Channels” option is.  Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than it looks.  You will see two checkboxes, “Online” and “Local”.  It may be tempting to initially go ahead and click both of those to “cover your bases” but I suggest you do a little more research before doing so.  Here’s why.

Currently, the Local Option is available by request only to certain US businesses.  In order to qualify for it, you must have GMC set up, a local Google Business Listing, and a storefront with in stock inventory on your shelves.  Google makes sure to state that they reserve the right to “verify accuracy of in-store inventory”.  But wait, there’s more…

In order to utilize the Local Shopping option, you now have a new “Local Feed” you must submit on top of your normal GMC shopping feed.  More information specifically on that feed and its requirements can be found here.  If you meet the requirements and have not yet been contacted by Google about trying this option out, you can ask to join the program here.


Hopefully this has been helpful in identifying the key differences between the new Google Shopping Campaigns and the current PLA Campaigns.  Time will tell whether these differences are more than cosmetic, but we can all appreciate Google putting some much needed development work into improving the backend of the Google Shopping platform!