Incubeta Ignite: CSS and Shopping Landscape

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As a CSS Partner, the BuyBye team works closely with Alberta Zatta of the PerformanceX team in Google; the dedicated CSS account managers. We were delighted to have her join us for “The CSS Opportunity”, and to give us an overview of the Shopping and CSS Landscape. You can find the slides from her presentation here.

Over the last few years, we have seen a rising number of agencies who have developed their own CSS propositions to add to their growing lists of services. With a wide range of programmes for merchants to choose from comes an even wider diversity in the ways that CSSs can treat your data, leverage your current account setup, or open up new accounts for you. Our suggestion is to reach out directly to the CSS teams to understand their specific benefits, and the implications of working with them. Below is a closer look at some of the most common operating models, but you can find out more in this article.

Typical Operating Models:

Self-service

The CSS creates a Merchant Center and a Google Ads account on your behalf and then gives you access to these accounts, so you can manage your feeds and campaigns yourself. The pricing model will depend on the agreement you have in place, but typically the CSS will charge a fixed-percentage markup on the CPC paid in the auction. You’ll get direct access to reporting through the Merchant Centre and Google Ads, and the CSS may also provide additional reporting on campaign performance and associated cost. 

Managed service

You provide your product data to the CSS and they take care of the rest. They will create a Merchant Center and Google Ads account on your behalf, optimise the feed, upload it into Google, and manage your campaigns. Some CSSs may also use your product data to generate leads from other channels.

Google invoices the CSS for the clicks on the ads they place on your behalf, and the cost depends on the outcome of the auction. The CSS will then charge you depending on the payment model you have agreed on. 

The CSS typically provides reporting on their performance, as well as the associated cost. You wouldn’t usually have access to the Merchant Center and Google Ads accounts, but you may have access to the tools the CSS provides. 

Hybrid models

Hybrid models combine aspects of both managed and self-service models. For example, a CSS may manage and optimise your product data feed, while you run the campaigns yourself, and vice versa. Or, Google may invoice you directly for ads placed by your CSS – which might suit you if you manage your campaigns yourself. In this case, the CSS would invoice you separately for their services.

Always check with the CSSs themselves to find the specific benefits and consequences of working with them. For example, some CSSs are able to opt in to placing Shopping ads on the Display remarketing network and beyond.