My 2013 Google Shopping Christmas Wishlist

doodle_froogle_halloween_2004Someday, you’ll be training a PPC newb and you’ll make the comment, “I remember when Google Shopping was Froogle and it was free”, and they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about.  The reality is that you may already be getting these looks since Google Shopping is rapidly becoming a major channel of revenue for many e-commerce companies (and Google appreciates the extra income as well!), if it’s not there already.  I mean it makes sense why PLAs are so big for e-com, right?  A user submitting a query for a product wants to make sure the link they are clicking on is going to take them to the actual product they want to see.  What better way of assuring them, then a picture with a price so they can comparison shop right there?  When it comes to e-com search, text ads and organic results are surely going the way of the dinosaur next to the prettier, more user friendly Google Shopping/PLAs.

Unfortunately though, the issue for PPC advertisers is that while the data is demonstrating the rising dominance of Google Shopping, product support has barely changed from what it was before the increase.  We as advertisers are seeing our data, visits, and costs rise exponentially as we implement Google Shopping (generally speaking, of course), yet it can take days (or even sometimes weeks) for verification as to why a product in the feed is disapproved.  For major e-commerce companies, a single main product being dropped from the feed can result in significant revenue loss if the product is dropped for a few days… and we all know how clients love to lose money (this has to be my favorite GIF of all time thanks to Business Insider)!


Admittedly, Google is taking steps to “catch up” to the level of support needed for Google Shopping specifically for advertisers, so this post is not meant to be a post of complaint per say, but one filled with ideas, or at least, wishes!

That being said, and with Christmas rapidly approaching (do you feel the pressure yet, marketers???), I’d like to submit my 2013 Google Shopping Wishlist.  If you have any to add to this, please by all means include them in the comments below!

Just like you would with any other Christmas List, I have listed these in terms of desired order and included brief notes of clarification to make sure I get the perfect product, and not some cheap, used knock-off brand.  😉

1) Access to Googlers who are experts in Google Shopping

I decided to put this first because, well, someone with answers can help solve a lot of other problems!  Currently, I find myself in a labyrinth of generic contact forms in the Help Center, normal AdWords reps as mediators between myself and the “Google Shopping” squad, and dedicated Google Shopping email addresses where I get specific help sometimes, and automated responses the other times.  For example, here is an authentic Google Shopping email I received this past week:  “Hello, Thank you for contacting us.  In order to support you with this issue, please contact AdWords support at 866-2-GOOGLE (be prepared to give them your 10-digit AdWords ID and login email address).  Alternatively, you can contact Merchant Center support via their Help Center. Best regards, The Google Shopping Team”.  Better yet, Google Shopping and AdWords are so closely tied together now, that perhaps the answer would be to train current AdWords reps better and give them the access needed to answer our Google Shopping questions.  After all, since advertisers need to know their way around both Merchant Center and AdWords, it makes sense for the Google Reps to be familiar with both as well.

2) More Specific Information for product disapprovals

The number one Google Shopping issue for which I currently have to contact a Googler is product disapprovals.  The information given in the screenshot here is just not enough.  PLA Generic Message Disapproval I know, I know, we as the advertiser are supposed to have the (oft changing) policy manual memorized and ought to be able to recognize immediately in a product why it is disapproved.  But realistically, sometimes I can look at a product up and down and have no idea why it’s been disapproved, even knowing the policies fairly well (I’ve been working specifically with Google Shopping/Product Search/Base for a few years).  It makes sense to me that a product is disapproved for a specific reason, even if by an automated system, so could that automated system post a message in GMC for that product noting the cause of disapproval?

3) KW Targeting for PLA Ad Groups

Since we can filter out keywords using the SQR, my wish is for us to be able to target individual ad groups by keywords… just like in normal Search ad groups.  I would say this has massive revenue potential, especially for Product Specific ID-targeted PLA ad groups.  Rather than be on the defensive and having to access SQR all the time, we could go on the offensive and choose which product PLAs we want to show for which queries!

4) Remarketing-Like Lists for Auto-Targets

Yes, I’m greedy and it’s Christmas, dang it, so I’m asking for the golden ticket.  I would love to be able to create full on remarketing-like lists for PLAs.  Currently, the most granular you can get is Product Specific ID targeting.  Yes, you can organize these products into different campaigns based upon popularity, color, whatever you want to organize them around… but that’s not helping your optimization at all.  It’s just helping your organization.  Being able to optimize my product specific ad group PLAs based upon analytics UX or conversion data?  Hallelujah!  I mean excuse the geek-out for a second, but you could then set auto-bidding parameters based upon that data and it would literally optimize your PLA ad groups based upon real-time user performance!!!  I have to pause before moving on as I stare into the distance with a smile, thinking about this utopian-like PLA world…

5) A GMC MCC Account

I give full props to Matt Umbro on our last #ppcchat on PLAs for this one.  His tweet can be seen in the picture here.matt umbro twitter gmc mcc accountNot much has to be said on this front. Agencies have multiple ecom clients and the same thing goes for GMC as does for Adwords.  BTW, on the front of having multiple accounts open, you all knew that using a Google Chrome incognito window allows you to have two separate Google Accounts open at a time, right? That is super-helpful when needing to have your agency MCC open and your client’s full GMC (not just the info it gives you in Adwords) open at the same time.

6) Conversion Optimizer

This may not be used by everyone (perhaps you didn’t even know PLAs and Conversion Optimizer were incompatible?), and that’s okay, but it would be nice to have the option.  Actually, your successful PLA campaign may currently encourage you to “try conversion optimizer”, but be warned that it does not work so it will shut down your PLAs faster than Jose Fernandez shuts down line drives!Did you catch that?

7) Bulk Auto-Target Editing in AWE

This isn’t quite as glamorous as the others, but hey, it would be nice to have a means of bulk editing individual auto-targets in AdWords Editor.  Want to know my process for (no-API) rapidly creating a PLA campaign in Editor with individual product targeted ad groups?  (1) Create a PLA Campaign in AdWords and download it to AWE.  (2) Download your entire Merchant Center product feed into a .csv file.  (3) Grab the Product Title Column and remove any thing you want to out of it, weird characters, etc.  These will be your Ad Group titles.  Then, separate by brand if you want (or however you want), make a couple of other columns for Max CPC bid, Status (paused), and whatever else floats your boat. (4) Then copy those 3 columns and paste them into your PLA Campaign editor’s “Add Multiple Ad Groups” field and boom.  You have a fully created PLA Campaign ready to go.  The problem of course, is the auto-target.  If you have 5,000 products… you’ll be entering those suckers in for awhile manually with no API… hence, my final wish.  Who knows, maybe someday there will be a little drag and drop slot where you throw in your .csv and Google pulls the Title and ID from the file and spits out an ad group ready to go for each row in your file?  One can hope!

Well, there you have it.  My wishlist is done for this year, and it’s not even Halloween.  Any PLA wishes you would add to the list?  Just use the comments below or announce them on twitter (make sure to include @clixmarketing and @KECreate in your tweets so I can see them!).