Why the New Google Shopping Campaigns Scare Me

clown getting punched by google adwords

For those of you who aren’t aware, Google has released some major (and much needed) updates to their PLA advertising campaigns in Adwords. These are called, Google Shopping Campaigns. I recently guest blogged over at Clix Marketing and highlighted some initial differences between the new Shopping Campaigns and older PLA Campaigns.

Initially, my gut reaction (same goes for those I’ve talked to) has been that there have been some great visual/dashboard simplification-like changes, but nothing real serious in fundamentally changing the way these would be managed. There are some cool new features like Campaign Priority and more custom fields in the feed that can help our management, but segmentation and optimization is in many ways the same, just more streamlined (which, don’t get me wrong, is great!).

However, I recently discovered something that startled me…

startled by google shopping campaigns

In the old PLA campaign format, I loved to get as specific as possible. Admittedly, every client is slightly different, but whenever possible I make individual PLA ad groups for individual products. This allows me to use a combination of bidding and negative keywords to best optimize each product and react to individual product traffic rather than adjusting bids that affect dozens of products (like a category targeted ad group has to be managed).

Because of this, I was pretty excited when I got into the Shopping Campaign and discovered that in the new “product groups” (which in essence, replace the “ad groups” of the PLA campaign), you can easily target individual product IDs! I mean, it is a snap! So much better than the old hack way I had that involved grabbing my Merchant Center feed, entering that into Editor as the Ad Group titles, manually entering in the Auto Target… you get the idea. This is a great step in “enhancing” individual Product ID targeting (now, setting individual Product ID bids is still a pain, but hey, it’s a work in progress). I was pretty excited to see this!

Then I discovered what scared me…

There are only Campaign level Negative Keywords in the new Shopping Campaigns. Yep, you heard right. You can target individual product IDs, but now you can no longer filter negative keywords per Product ID, category, brand, whatever… just by campaign. So you know that one higher-priced product that gets all the general keywords that you’d rather have sent to the high profit, more popular product? You can’t optimize that anymore. In fact, even with product categories in specific ad groups, you can no longer optimize for negative keywords unless every category is in its own campaign!!! Of your two best optimization friends in the PLA ad groups (bid adjustments and negative keywords), you are now down to one.

kiss your ad group negative keyword targeting goodbye

google shopping campaigns negative keyword

Ok, I’ll Call Google

I wanted to make sure I was understanding this correctly so I gave Google a call and talked to a very friendly and helpful rep. The main response to my inquiry was interesting. It was that the Shopping Campaigns are meant to be supplemental to the PLA campaigns. In other words, I was instructed that if my main strategy for a client is focused on Individual Product targeting in ad groups, I should keep using the PLA campaigns for that goal and use the Shopping campaigns to focus on a handful of the highest profit products specifically or the categories, all products, etc.

The rep I spoke to did agree that “product group” negative keywords was a good idea and promised to pass it up the pipe. I sure hope he does because I don’t really want my already large accounts taken up with 50 Shopping Campaigns targeting one product (or one category) between them! Also, the new Shopping Campaigns do have some fun management bells and whistles that I would like to use rather than being stuck with the PLA Campaigns

In closing, I asked for assurance that the PLA campaigns would not be phased out and replaced by the Shopping campaigns since my strategy now currently resides in having both campaign types. I was assured PLA campaigns are here to stay. I have no doubt this rep was telling the truth, but I can’t help but being suspicious that down the road, more of these “enhanced” changes will eventually result in PLA campaigns going the way of the Dodo. If that’s the case, I sure hope they’ve implemented “product group” specific negative keywords or I’ll be doing a whole lot of explaining to unhappy clients as to why their CPAs are getting it on the chin again. And here I just finished explaining the Enhanced Campaign rollout…

clown getting punched by google adwords


What do you think? Am I over-reacting or does this scare you too?  Let me know in the comments below or by replying to me on twitter: @KECreate.