"Google Shopping Day Focuses on Automation – But Smart Investments Still Remain Key"

By: Matt D’Amico, Senior Specialist, Paid Search

Google’s annual Shopping Day conference in New York City revolved around three pillars at the core of Google’s shopping experience – Connect, Drive Action and Accelerate.

But what does this mean for the future of shopping and search? We take a closer look.

Connect

Even as users’ brand loyalty decreases, their desire for personalized experiences are on the rise. Connecting with potential customers in a meaningful and relevant way is more important than ever, and Google has doubled down on Showcase Shopping ads for exactly these reasons.

Showcase Shopping Ads allow retailers to take control of how they want to voice their brand. This primarily mobile ad unit surfaces on broad product queries, featuring lifestyle images (uploaded by the brand) and a product catalog directly within the ad unit. Google cited 10 times as many Showcase engagements at this point in the year (compared to last).

Why is this important?

Although Showcase Ads may not provide an immediate conversion lift, they are still valuable in building a retail strategy. Introducing potential customers through the media rich Showcase ads on higher funnel queries will help when users are ready to move down the funnel. Also, as these ad units are still relatively new, learning how to win with them now will help when more brands begin adopting them.

To maximize the benefit of Showcase Shopping Ads, you should create more specific ads with multiple ads per ad group and multiple ad groups per product category. The more granular and relevant the category URL the easier it will be for Google’s machine learning to pick the most relevant ad. Showcase Shopping Ads should also be optimized towards engagement rather than click-through rate – when users engage with the ad they are added to a tagless remarketing list.

Drive Action

A major focus of Google Shopping Day was on removing friction from the buyer decision process. This includes making a product easy to find and converting as seamlessly as possible. Google Shopping product experts went as far as saying this is one of the most important aspects of winning in the digital space.

So how is Google removing friction?
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – mobile webpages that have been supercharged for loading times – often load in less than one second or four times faster than regular webpages. This translates into a major boost in return on ad spend by satisfying the impatient shopper.
  • Google Pay – Once billing information is set up, Google Pay allows users to checkout/convert in just two clicks.
  • Shopping Actions – These actions are focused on turning browsing experiences into buying opportunities, particularly by making rich media (e.g YouTube videos) transactionable.
  • Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) – LIAs are very important for brick and mortars retailers, especially considering that 76 percent of consumers who run a local search visit the store within 24 hours. LIAs surface your store inventory directly into the SERP.
Why is this important?

Utilizing these tools can have a material impact on maximizing conversions. Google data shows that 40 percent of consumers leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load, and 79 percent of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance are less likely to purchase from the same site again. Leveraging programs such as AMP ensure that webpages load faster to drive engagement/conversion.

Accelerate

Now to the nitty gritty of Google Shopping – using automation and merchandizing insights to accelerate retailer’s shopping programs.

Automation

Google’s automated bidding solutions are becoming increasingly powerful. Google’s algorithm taps into hundreds of thousands of signals to determine each bid, and looks at queries, audiences, user intent, and products to fuel its machine learning engine.

What type of Automated Bidding does Google offer?
  • tROAS – Fully automated bidding solution used to maximize conversion value at a specific ROAS goal. tROAS now supports store visits, data-driven attribution, and drafts and experiments (in beta). It helps increase both conversions value and ROAS by modifying thousands of signals in real time.
  • eCPC – helps you get more conversions from manual bidding. eCPC works by automatically adjusting manual bids based on the likelihood of a user to convert and helps with increasing conversion rate while decreasing cost per conversion.
  • Smart Shopping Campaigns – These campaigns blend Google Shopping and display remarketing tactics to help simplify campaign management while maximizing conversion value for a set budget. Essentially telling Google to “spend this budget as effectively as possible”.
Why is this important?

The automated bidding solutions are especially valuable around Black Friday and Holiday sale periods. If using tROAS, you should make changes to your ROAS target as close to Black Friday and Holiday as possible, making sure to adjust bidding targets proportionately to the predicted increase in conversion rate.

One way to shift traffic to specific product for Holiday is to break out holiday SKUs into their own campaign using campaign priorities:
  • High Priority – Holiday SKUs
  • Media Priority – Top Products
  • Low Priority – Everything Else

Automation can also be used to drive direct store visits. With an upward trend in users searching “near me” in queries, you can automatically funnel these searches to LIAs. Use “bid by distance to store,” higher mobile modifiers, and day-parting tactics that focus on hours of operation to better utilize LIAs.

Merchandizing Insights
  • Product – product suggestions will target SKUs in high demand that are not currently in the feed. They help with expanding the feed based off of analytics and insights.
  • Price – Price benchmarks provide anonymized competitive data. Within AdWords, retailers can layer in the competitiveness of individual products to fuel bids. The price benchmark can be used in conjunction with other metrics (Absolute top impression share, ROAS, CTR etc.).
  • Promotion – Use this tool to see where clicks and impressions fall off. Helps feed managers identify where the product feed could be improved or optimized.
  • Place – for brick and mortar retailers this provides in-store analytics as well as the ability to surface LIAs in locations with comparatively low foot traffic.
Why is this important?

Insight into feed health is a fundamental aspect of a successful shopping program. Leveraging merchandizing insights to find potential SKUs that might be missing from your feed or competitor price data can push efficiencies even further. Anonymized competitive data can be used to help identify well-priced products in your feed and you can then intersect this information with other metrics. For example, crossing it with absolute top impression share can show you products where you beat competitor pricing but may not be bidding properly to maximize impressions and clicks. Inversely, identifying products where you may not be priced competitively can save you from pushing budget into areas that may not convert.

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