Advanced PLA Tips, Tricks and Strategies

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Advanced PLA Tips, Tricks and Strategies.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What do you find to be the biggest challenges of dealing with the actual product feed?

  • The lack of specific information for product disapprovals by Google. – Kirk Williams (@kecreate)
  • Remembering to refresh the feed each month. – Logical Media Group (@LogicalMediaGr)
  • Managing Product Updates in the feed. Especially when client’s do not inform you of little things like pricing changes. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Descriptions. There is value to optimizing, but could still use more clarity from Google. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Encountered a few badly formatted feeds that are literally difficult to view/edit. – Katie Saxon (@ksaxoninternet)
  • Can’t grant my MCC login user access in client’s google merchant account. – Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
  • The ability to get the feed uploaded daily, especially when you have 1000s of products. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • The conversion of “client side data” into a feed that will work with Google. Not always easy. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
  • Getting clients to keep updated feed, and to optimize their feed. – Leslie Drechsler
  • Lack of information on disapprovals, mass product changes can be cumbersome, preferential treatment for bigger brands. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • Client side resourcing/understanding of the feed and their CMS & tools. My lack of technical-ness. – Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
  • The dual dashboard thing. Why do we still need to log in to both GMC and GA to handle all aspects?! – Kirk Williams
  • Work involved in doing proper A/B testing. – Mark Jensen (@Just_Markus)
  • Having to go through the client’s tech guys to get things changed in a feed. Huge barrier and Google’s strange support processes. “Your feed has been disapproved. Fill out this form to ask us why.” – Martin Rottgerding (@bloomarty)
    • Or when they suspend your feed because ONE PRODUCT is ineligible. – Matt Umbro
  • For how much traffic Google is showing PLAs, they need to improve their transparency and functionality. – Jeremy Brown
  • I’d say in general being able to access the feed is the biggest challenge…followed closely by AdWords support. – Matt Umbro
  • Customizing thousands of SKUs with product-specific descriptions and labels. Even w/ templates, can be difficult to maintain. – Andrew Miller (@AndrewCMiller)

Q2: How do you determine your bidding structure/hierarchy in PLA campaigns?

  • Lower priced products = lower bids. – Logical Media Group
  • The hierarchy is very simple: No overlapping product targets except the “All Products” target with a 0.01 bid. – Martin Rottgerding
  • Look at your levers: what makes a difference? Is it brand, price, etc.? Then structure accordingly. – Jeremy Brown
  • Mostly the same for search, bid up the best margin/most popular/best sellers. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • Generally by analytics reports identifying what should be most profitable products. Bid on SKU level, Optimize. – Kirk Williams
  • Also, granular is good, but make it managable. It can make sense to group similar product targets.- Jeremy Brown
  • Unique ad group for each product id with higher bids than an All Products ad group, optimize bid based on CVR. – Leslie Drechsler
  • Highest margin products are the only ones I bid up or make ad groups for. The rest get 10 cent bid. – Jesse Semchuck
  • I usually worry about starting bids. Later, an automated system takes over. – Martin Rottgerding
  • Segment auto targets based on margin and CR, allows me to know how much I can bid, so I can bid up on high CR high revenue items. – Amanda West-Bookwalt (@Amanda_WestBook)
  • Finding value in the ad group per SKU (if you have a 3rd party tool to manage it) method. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
    • Creating SKU level ad groups has pros and cons but generally I like the idea. – Matt Umbro
  • Create other ad groups with a specific target (choose common denominator between all relevant products). – Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
  • Outside of major impact or exception SKUs, bid at the target level where you can speak to intent. – Data Pop (@datapop)
  • How do you determine bids on precise auto targets vs. more generic?
    For example, does the “red shoes” product target warrant a higher bid than the “red shoes jordan” individual product auto target?

    • No, the target definition might be more generic, but the traffic isn’t. – Martin Rottgerding
      • True, but still value in getting the generic traffic (at a lower bid though). – Matt Umbro
        • But the traffic for all red shoes combined is no more or less generic than the traffic for all red shoes individually. – Martin Rottgerding
    • Problem with “auto targets” is Google is VERY liberal with it’s “matching” like “world maps” for a kids play mat. – Bryant Garvin
      • Overall, I think Google generally does a decent job matching the auto targets to correct products. Ultimately ROI is the ultimate factor and generally PLAs perform much better than regular text ads. – Matt Umbro
      • ROI better because Google is choosing terms with buy intent and images/price pre-qualify. – Jeremy Brown

Q3: What are some custom combo auto targets that you create (ie: product_type=shoes and brand=nike)?

  • No auto targets besides SKU targets. – Martin Rottgerding
  • With a number of same product variations, we try to show the lowest priced (improves CTR), so adwords_labels=lowest is a winner. – James Clayton (@jamesclayts)
  • Use Analytics data & client info to find good price split point. Then filter products by true/false for over/under that price. – Kirk Williams
  • SKU targets are really easy to ad en masse in Google Editor. Sometimes labels or product_type can be useful. – Jeremy Brown
    • Yes they are…they take some time to upload but it’s better than adding manually! – Matt Umbro
      • Copying SKU numbers from Excel into Editor is quick. I’ve added thousands to a selection of ad groups in minutes. – Jeremy Brown
  • Targeting PLAs by groupings is good, ie: adwords_grouping=Shoes and adwords_labels=Top Margin. – Matt Umbro
  • Various combinations using brands, product_type, adwords_grouping and/or labels. – Nathan Kilen (@nathankilen)
  • Custom combinations in PLAs are fun to use, kind of like custom combos in remarketing! – Matt Umbro
  • By the way, even with SKU targets you can still name or label your adgroups in a way that lets you aggregate data by brand or type. – Martin Rottgerding
    • Each auto-target can be bid differently. Why the focus on thousands of ad groups? That’s messy to me. – Jeremy Brown
      • SKU adgroups allow you to write individual ad copy for each product. For example, clients often have free shipping for orders over $X. So we advertise free shipping for products over $X. SKU adgroups also help with queries. When the adgroup includes the product’s name it’s easier to make sense of queries. – Martin Rottgerding
        • Would you actually create 5,000 different ad groups with 5k different lines of promo text? Seems inefficient. – Jeremy Brown
          • Not manually, but yes, absolutely. – Martin Rottgerding
            • We tend to use auto-targets and like ad groups for grouping similar SKUs. I don’t like my data in 5k ad groups. – Jeremy Brown
    • Good point. Label like products or grouped products for promotions. – Jesse Semchuck

Q4: What are some advanced PLA targeting strategies that you have tried? How did they work?

  • Not sure how you can go deeper now than SKU level. Brands/Price/etc. Helps group SKUs but not optimize them. – Kirk Williams
  • Negative keywords for traffic sculpting. – Jeremy Brown

Q5: Do Analytics play into your feed customization? How so?

  • Yes in optimizing titles and descriptions based on bounces and conv. rate. – Heather Cooan
  • Engagement metrics can be useful. Especially if not buying that product. In general, AOV lower for PLAs. – Jeremy Brown
  • Organic KWs or matched KW queries can be used for product feed optimization. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Absolutely…use the data you have to bid up on products that show higher AOV, better return, etc. Like any online marketing service, use your Analytics! – Matt Umbro
  • Yes, append UTM params in feed URLs so can view PLA traffic separately, plus product level revenue. – Leslie Drechsler
  • I think this is back to needing more ways to target than just grouping & labels. Need more ways we can take action w data we see. – Kirk Williams

Q6: What are some tips for rewriting product titles and descriptions?

  • Just save that time for something else. – Martin Rottgerding
  • Think like an SEO in this sense (blasphemy I know 🙂 Utilize targeted KWs and keep under character limits. – Matt Umbro
  • Titles should include keywords you are targeting. I’ve seen Descriptions without the keywords. – Jeremy Brown
  • Depends upon product but I like: (1) Important Specific KW (2) General Category KW (3) Product Name (4) Manufacturer (5) SKU. – Kirk Williams
  • Anyone think Descriptions are super-important? I’m starting to view as least important element of feed. – Jeremy Brown
    • They are more important for when someone views products on google dot com slash shopping. – Matt Umbro
    • Descriptions are important, I’ve been able to move the needle on bounces and conv. volumes by tweaking these. – Heather Cooan
      • Really? People only see the Descriptions on Google Shopping and not in the SERPs. – Jeremy Brown
        • It’s the consistency between the descriptions and what’s on the actual product pages. – Heather Cooan
  • Never seen much use in title optimization. Shouldn’t help w/ relevancy or CTR, so why do it? – Martin Rottgerding
  • Use both product type & Google’s taxonomy. So who is using the product variation attributes in their feed? – Andrew Baker (@AndrewBaker72)
  • Tokenize search queries to pull out the specific attributes that matter to consumers and call those out early. – Data Pop


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amanda West-Bookwalt (@Amanda_WestBook)
• Andrew Baker (@AndrewBaker72)
• Andrew Miller (@AndrewCMiller)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Data Pop (@datapop)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
• James Clayton (@jamesclayts)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Katie Saxon (@ksaxoninternet)
• Kirk Williams (@kecreate)
• Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
• Logical Media Group (@LogicalMediaGr)
• Mark Jensen (@Just_Markus)
• Martin Rottgerding (@bloomarty)
• Nathan Kilen (@nathankilen)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)

Advanced Streamcaps Provided By

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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