In his latest presentation, Head of Performance Max Flajsner joined industry experts to discuss Google Shopping and CSS. Following discussions of Max’s presentation looked at how you can take your Shopping campaigns to the next level, and how a CSS can help you along the way.
Laying the Foundations
First things first, it’s important to get the basics right, as it’s not as easy to control Shopping or CSS as it is to control your PPC. With Shopping you’re not able to choose which keywords you’re bidding on, nor can you control what ad copy you show i.e. which product gets shown. As such you’re immensely reliant on the Google Shopping algorithm when it comes to which products are showing and on which terms. It’s important to note that Google values price in its algorithm, so how can you make sure your best seller is showing and not your old cheaper sale deadstock?
The solution here is twofold. First, ensure you’re getting granular with your bidding, and not bidding flat across a big product set. This gives you more control; allowing you to bid higher on those best-selling products to keep them front and centre while pulling back on sale items to maintain a higher ROI. Then, use negative keywords and campaign priority to create a tiering system to make sure you’re winning on your key terms.
As we move into Q4, it’s even more crucial that you consistently review the splits of your data; which demographics, geographies and audiences are performing? If you’re using an automated bid strategy, does this account for seasonality? Max made reference to a presentation made earlier this year, where Alex Haynes highlighted the phenomenon of the “Pyjama Panic Buy”. Over Cyber Weekend, we tend to see ROAS peaking from 11 pm onwards each night, as users panic that deals won’t be available the next day and so purchase just in case they miss it. Ensuring that your bid strategy takes this into account will play a huge role in your success over this time period.
Businesses today have access to so much data, but its often housed in a number of different places. In order to truly drive optimum performance from Shopping campaigns, we need to connect those data sources. Search and Shopping campaigns output tonnes of useful search query data, which can then be pushed back into the feed to boost impression share. Plus, 99% of advertisers are wasting spend on low stock and low margin advertisers. All of this data should be available, so once again it’s a case of pushing it back into the shopping feed to guide your campaign decisions.
This works both ways – once you’ve brought insights from other channels into your Shopping campaigns, you’ll need to use your Shopping data to fuel even wider decisions. Someone clicking through a Shopping ad for your best seller is worth more to us than the person clicking through your deadstock. With tools like SA360, you’re able to add dynamic parameters to every clickout based on how well the product performs. These audiences can then be used across all other channels.
CSS can also give us lots of data on how products perform in a competitive environment. When you push that information back into the feed, it can help you to decide which creative to use on Display or Social. Finally, all those search queries driving performance in CSS should be shared with your other teams as well; for example, using the highest performing search queries to build custom intent audiences for Display.
Sometimes, we as marketers can have an inflated sense of self-importance; believing it’s the little changes we made to a campaign that drove the big uplift in performance. In reality, this was likely caused by something that was completely out of our control. In short, we aren’t as in control of our campaign performance as we might like to think.
There are ways to harness some of these outside forces though, which will help you to make the most of these unexpected uplifts. For example, sports brands would do well to incorporate Fantasy Football APIs and match schedules into their feeds and bidding strategies in order to make sure they’re pushing the right products at the right times. Garden Centres or plant stockists should factor in the seasonality of their products when deciding how to split the budget, while clothing retailers might want to consider the weather.
There are lots of opportunities for retailers to make the most of CSS platforms, especially in time for the holiday season, but like any channel, you cannot run it in silo. The most successful strategies will incorporate not only information from other digital channels, but pull external data into the feed – The Ultimate Shopping Setup is one that is communicative, and creative.