PPC Chat Streamcap – AdWords Product Feeds

Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) couldn’t make it to today’s PPCChat, so last minute fill-in-host this week was James Svoboda (@Realicity) and he hosted a great set of questions on this week’s PPC topic “AdWords Product Feeds”. Participation in this little used topic was slim, but a good discussion ensued nonetheless. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Do you tend to create 1 product target per account or multiples containing unique product types (Merchant Center attributes)?

  • I tend to break campaigns & ad groups down to smaller tight knit segments in order to control, among many things, Ad Extensions. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
    • I agree with that and for product ads, your approach gives more control over bidding and ad copy. – Kevin Hill (@K_Hill)
    • that is something I need to look into. Not always happy with G’s product selection on some kwds. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • I tend to break it down pretty granular. TIghter campaigns and ad groups to present the best ad text. – Justin Freid (@Justin_Freid)
  • Uniques always provide the best flexibility, especially with retailers offering a wide range of products. – Andy Groller (@AndyGroller)
    • Good point Andy. You have to be flexible with ecomm as they are all unique. – James Svoboda
  • I can say I’ve spent more time failing to setup product feeds on adwords than I’ve had success with. – Brennan Brooks (@brennanbrooks)
  • If I have free shipping or something like that, it’s definitely going in there. – Kevin Hill
    • Free Shipping is a must for most ecomm campaigns. – James Svoboda

Q2: Have you found product listing ads with optional promotional text to work better than those without?

  • Unfortunately we don’t have access to Product Listing Ads in the UK, only available in the US. – Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh)
    • Have you heard any word on when the UK might get them? – James Svoboda
    • No I haven’t & I’m surprised at the delay (available in the US since Nov’10). – Andrew Baker
      • Just a hunch, but maybe they have not caught on enough to be adopted to the UK and beyond. – James Svoboda
        • Trust me, I’m like a coiled spring, once those Product Listings hit these shores… – Andrew Baker
    • My MCC is UK based, but my clients & their accts are US, will I be able to have product listings? – Jasmine Aye (@jazdawn)
      • My guess is if the accounts are US based they’ll have access to all US AdWords features regardless of MCC. – Andrew Baker
      • You should. BMM was first released to Canada advertisers, I only accessed them for 1 client because of their location. – James Svoboda
      • I believe it depends on what billing details are attributed 2the account when it’s set up. MCC location shouldnt b relevant. – Matt Whelan (@OldMatt)
  • This is something that will vary. Sometimes a pic can say 1,000 words, sometime not. Always need to test. – James Svoboda
  • I have found the optional promotional text is way too broad, and doesn’t add to the ad’s effectiveness. But, using offers like “free shipping” has added to conversions, when a client allows this type of promo. – Brennan Brooks +
  • Not specifically, but those extra words, allow for us to have more space for a carefully crafted ad. – Jordan McCann (@Solancer) +
  • What if your clients aren’t interested in advertising for products and would like to focus on new traffic instead? – Jasmine Aye
  • We have Product Extensions, there is a subtle difference, I’d rather have the Product Listings though. – Andrew Baker
  • Words vs pictures. All about testing each. – Andy Groller

Q3: Due to the nature of product listing ads, is optional promotional text even necessary?

  • Having more screen space is almost always great, but you still have to test and measure. Also, if your competitors are using the same stock product images, the extra text will help you to stand out more. – James Svoboda
    • I’ve found testing on PLA’s to be difficult in general since we have little control for how google serves them. – Kevin Hill ++
  • Taking up more real estate means more clicks. As long as they are relevant clicks, use the promotional text to take up space. – Justin Freid
  • Still up in the air on this one, but suprisingly good, when used with good incentivization. more space = more traffic = more R&D. – Jordan McCann
  • Absolutely use the text field for PLAs, communicate specific value props! – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)

Q4: Do you use product listing ads and product extensions as alternatives to bidding on keywords with less search volume? In other words, do you use these features as a “catch all” way of still having exposure for relevant terms?

  • I use a very strict match type strategy to control keywords with less search volume. Everything else is add on, not alternative. – James Svoboda
  • Only done some”shot in the dark” type study on this my self, but for ultra low traffic, but highly trageted keywords? Yes please! – Jordan McCann
  • They’re definitely a nice complement to your kw strategy for making sure your entire product spread is covered. – Kevin Hill +
    • Good point. Probably has more to do with average CPC & clicks per query. – James Svoboda
  • Yes. I use them in addition to viable targets, with that said my feeds are larger than my targets. – Chris Kostecki
    • Common for many product catalogs. – James Svoboda

Q5: Are product listing ads and product extensions necessary to keep up with, and differentiate yourself from the competition?

  • To answer this question in it’s simplest form… YES! – Eric Farmer (@click_eric)
  • Always! It’s just another marketing strategy. Who wants to be confused with the competition? – Jasmine Aye +
  • Yes. gaining a competitive edge in today’s AdWords landscape cam mean the difference between Profit and Loss. – James Svoboda
  • Linking product feeds to ads is the best thing to happen to adwords since idk what! phrase match? qs bidding? Cant be more relevant. – Chris Kostecki
  • Always keep them fresh… like the Pillsbury dough boy (yeah, I went there). – Andy Groller +
  • If the client has a GMC & Product Feeds already then why not! Nothing to lose & everything to gain. – Andrew Baker
    • Good point. If available, then just do it. – James Svoboda
  • Its what sets Google apart & adds the most value. CSEs suck, except during the holidays. PLA & Extensions help you bridge the gap! – Chris Kostecki

Q6: How do you recommend a client setup a Google Merchant Center feed when there is no developer on staff?

  • The products are being fed to the site somehow, shouldn’t be hard to generate that file and submit it to an ftp, then link it. – Chris Kostecki
  • This is a tough situation. Simple answer: Find & recommend one. Better answer: Learn to build one yourself. (both you & client). Also, ecomm CMS platforms are way better these days than 5-10 years ago. – James Svoboda
  • Refer to a freelance dev who is within their price range. – Jasmine Aye
  • You can even generate a flat file (csv) & upload it…whoever is managing their delivery to the site can help deliver it to Google. – Chris Kostecki
  • Very simple to create a Product Feed (txt or xml file) or use E-commerce Platform like Magento. – Andrew Baker
    • Magento, the WordPress of Ecommerce! – James Svoboda
  • On most occasions I work with the client / developer to create & configure the Product Feeds. – Andrew Baker
  • TIP – You get better control / optimisation of attributes by using a manual feed rather than the ecommerce submission. – Andrew Baker +

Q7: What is your bidding strategy for product listing ads as no average position is involved & you only bid at the ad group level?

  • You’ll need to factor in Conversion Rates and Profit to see if it is still worth bidding at all then the bidding strategy should be set to a profit level, measured and watched closely. – James Svoboda
  • In my experience, increasing bids increases traffic levels more than it increases cpcs, so don’t be afraid to raise them up. – Kevin Hill
  • With all things products, it should come down to ROI. – Chris Kostecki
  • Linking the destination URLs w analytics tracking, including the variable features Google allows for (distinguish pla & ext) is key. – Chris Kosteci

Q8: Are there situations where you WOULDN’T run product extensions and/or feeds?

  • If data showed the ads were not performing as well then I would drop them. – Jasmine Aye
  • If your product images are the exact same stock/manufacturer photos as everyone else I might consider it. Data will help. – James Svoboda
    • Might trigger familiarity, if in a good position to compete, not a deal breaker. – Chris Kostecki
    • Wouldn’t it be good for cleints to have different photos of products to begin with? – Jasmine Aye
      • Yes, but I worked with some that use “Drop Shippers” and do not take their own product photos:( Not good. – James Svoboda
  • Low margins, weak value props, super competitive (cell phones for ex), filter out gift certs and other accessories from feed. – Chris Kostecki +
  • It will always come down to profits and ROI. But sometimes gaining a customer cannot be measured initially. – James Svoboda
  • Yes, even though we offer the best prices its a bundle price, but people just see the price and associate our brand w/ expensive. – Eric Farmer
    • Good point. Pricing can be misleading, like ebay auctions where the shipping is more than the cost of the item. – James Svoboda

Additional Resources

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About the Author

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe, Search Manager at WebRanking in Eden Prairie, MN, #PPCChat Streamcap putterer togetherer, rarely an seo blogger, SEO Padawan, Tweeterer @PaulKragthorpe, and Google+’er PaulKragthorpe.

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