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Which Google Shopping Campaign Structure Strategy Works Best?

March 12, 2018

Deciding on how best to structure your Google Shopping campaigns can be challenging – particularly if you’ve got thousands of products in your Shopping Product Feed. Do you add all products into one Ad Group in one campaign, use product group splits to divide up your products, or create multiple campaigns and multiple Ad Groups in each campaign?

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer, as long as you’re achieving your revenue and return on investment targets (ROI) and can efficiently spend your time managing your campaigns.

The decisions you make when deciding on your Google Shopping campaign structure may make one of the most significant challenges faced by Google Shopping advertisers more difficult to overcome: controlling the search terms that your product adverts appear for.

how to set up google shopping campaigns

In this post, I’ll explore some of the options available to you and put forward the case for splitting out your products using more than one Ad Group per campaign.

1. One Shopping Campaign With One Ad Group

The most basic approach to setting up a Shopping account is to create one campaign and add one Ad Group, and then divide your product groups out.

Good points

  • Easy to set up
  • Less time to manage

Bad points

  • Hard to control search queries using negative keywords
  • Not able to boost bids on brand terms or high intent terms, as increasing bids will increase generic impressions and clicks as well
  • Not possible to control search queries at product level
  • Some products will not get exposure or clicks
  • Poor performing products are harder to exclude or manage the bids on unless you take them out of the Shopping feed altogether

If you’re still using this approach in 2018, then you are certainly missing out on performance optimisation opportunities.

2. Two Campaigns Utilising Campaign Priorities

The idea behind using two campaigns each is to give you more control on the search terms that your products show for by using the campaign priority setting and negative keyword lists.

structing adwords shopping campaigns by priority

Setting Shopping Campaign priority in the new Google AdWords interface

Good points

  • Easy to set up. Create the first campaign and then copy and change the priority settings
  • More control over bidding on higher intent terms such as brand terms, or any specific search query such as bulk or multi-buy terms that you know convert well

Bad points

  • Twice as many campaigns to manage (not a massive issue)
  • You’ll need to make sure that neither campaign becomes limited by budget to prevent the wrong queries triggering in each campaign
  • It isn’t possible to control search queries at product SKU level
  • Dividing out products in one Ad Group in each campaign is still a challenge.
  • Some products will not get exposure or clicks due to product groupings within a single Ad Group
  • Poor performing products are harder to exclude or manage unless you take them out of the Shopping feed altogether

3. Three Campaigns and Three Ad Groups

A step up from the previous option will allow you to help refine your bidding on higher intent search queries.

Using three tiered priority shopping campaigns will give you more control of how much you bid on brand terms, generic terms or other high intent product search queries such as multi-buys. I personally think that only having three campaign priorities is limiting and would like to see this limit changed.

Good points

  • More control over bidding on higher intent terms with three campaigns
  • It will improve the profitability of your account
  • It is possible to set device, location and audience bid adjustments on each campaign relative to how well the different types of search terms perform

Bad points

  • Three time as many campaigns to manage
  • You’ll need to make sure that neither campaign becomes limited by budget, otherwise the ability to control search queries will disappear
  • Dividing out products in one Ad Group in each campaign is still a challenge
  • Not possible to control search queries at product level
  • Some products will not get exposure or clicks due to product groupings within a single Ad Group
  • Poor performing product are harder to exclude or manage unless you take them out of the Shopping feed altogether

There are different ways to implement a three-priority campaign structure; some of these are explored below:

3.1 Generic shopping campaign, Brand shopping campaign and Brand + Size shopping campaign

Segment generic terms, branded terms and brand + higher intent attributes such as size or product name.

shopping campaign structure guide

3.2 Generic shopping campaign, Brand shopping campaign and Sale + Brand shopping campaign

This is similar to the above approach – the purpose of creating a sale campaign is obvious as you can boost bids on sale products that are more likely to convert. People love great offers after all!

Segment generic terms, branded terms and brand + higher intent attributes such as size or product name.

advice for structuring google shopping campaigns

3.3 Query Length – Short, Medium and Long

This approach entails setting up your campaigns to control the length of search queries.

shopping campaign structure tips

This approach is challenging. You will also need to study your historic Shopping data to work out which query lengths convert well and not so well. It is possible to see this information in Google Analytics or use Excel to manipulate your search term data.

Unless you can automate the addition of negative keywords to negative keyword lists, this approach would be difficult to implement. You may also hit a Keyword List limit as you can only have 20 shared library negative keyword lists with 5000 negatives keywords in each list.

using google analytics to find query length

Viewing the length of search queries using Google Analytics’ Search Queries Report

Tip: I recommend that you exclude any terms that relate to your brand when working out which query lengths convert best.

4. Profit Margins

This approach entails setting up your campaigns to include product categories based on profit margins. For example, if you manufacture your own products then your margins are likely to be better than the margin of other products that you sell.

Good points

  • More control over bidding on higher intent terms with three campaigns
  • Concentrate budget and efforts on traffic that generates the best return
  • It will improve the profitability of your account
  • It is possible to set device, location and audience bid adjustments on each campaign relative to how well the different types of search terms perform

Bad points

  • If you sell a diverse set of products, you will need to create multiple sets of two or three campaign priorities groupings for each different product category
  • You’ll need to make sure that neither campaign becomes limited by budget
  • Dividing out products in one Ad Group in each campaign is still a challenge.
  • Not possible to control search queries at product SKU level
  • Some products will not get exposure or clicks due to product groupings within a single Ad Group
  • Poor performing products are harder to exclude or manage unless you take them out of the Shopping feed altogether

You could repeat this approach and have 6, 9, 12 campaigns and split out your products by categories that you sell.

  1. Furniture – Shopping (Generic)
  2. Furniture – Shopping (Brand)
  3. Furniture – Shopping (Brand+Model No.)
  4. Kitchen – Kitchen (Generic)
  5. Kitchen – Shopping (Brand)
  6. Kitchen – Shopping (SALE + Brand)

The Case for Using Multiple Ad Groups within Google Shopping Campaigns

In all of the above campaign examples, the suggested approach was to use one Ad Group and then divide up products by the available Product Grouping attributes and custom labels.

The single Ad Group approach can work, but in my experience it gives you less control over managing products in your account.

Disadvantages of Only Using One Ad Group in Google Shopping Campaigns

Creating one Ad Group within a Google Shopping campaign and then subdividing by product group attributes such as Brand, Price and Category is a good place to start when you are getting to grips with Google Shopping.

The process of adding product group divisions and then further dividing products and adjusting bids over time once you have the clicks and conversions data makes sense. However, in my opinion this approach has limitations.

1. Dividing out categories, products, brands, price and IDs is a pain if you have tens of thousands of products.

Seasonal products will be hard to manage and exclude.

campaign structure for account with many products

2. If products change prices or categories, your data will become harder to interpret as the product SKUs that did well will disappear from product group divisions.

how many ad groups per shopping campaign

3. It isn’t possible to see what keywords are triggering specific products.

If you have hundreds or even thousands of products within one Ad Group, you won’t be able to associate poor or great converting products with the search terms that are triggering the clicks. You could exclude a search term that may well convert if triggered by a better product offering.

4. It is harder to control branded product search terms for brands that you sell, than products that you don’t sell.

Brand searches for brands that you sell, but products within made by that brand will trigger impressions and clicks and you won’t be able to easily prevent this.

For example: if you sell Swan kettles but not Swan fridges or Swan freezers and sell other brands of dishwashers, you will have to work harder on your negative keywords compared to splitting out the product categories, product brands or even product SKUs into separate Ad Groups.

With tens of thousands of products and hundreds of brands within one Ad Group, this simple issue could become a significant problem.

5. Controlling and excluding poor performing products is more time consuming with hundreds or thousands of products within one Ad Group.

campaign structure for ecommerce ppc accounts

6. Some products will not get exposure or clicks.

If you have product groupings containing tens of thousands of products and set a bid against this group, most of the products will never get exposure, and you will base performance and bidding decisions on the products that were clicked on and had impressions.

how to structure shopping campaigns

Managing search queries at product SKU level is impossible unless you split out products using different Ad Groups.

shopping campaign structure comparison

Example of account performance improve using multiple campaigns and Ad Groups

The advantages of using Ad Groups to divide up Google Shopping Campaigns include:

  • Reducing wasted clicks and spend by more effectively managing search terms. With a more granular Ad Group structure you will be able to identify exactly what keywords are triggering clicks on your product ads and act on this by adding Ad Group negative keywords
  • Access a more granular level of keyword search term queries that are triggering product impressions and clicks
  • Prevent feed and product group changes from messing up your data

There are disadvantages as well:

  • It can take longer to get significant click data for bid adjustments or bidding automation
  • It can be harder to review, adjust and manage bids when using hundreds or thousands of product Ad Groups
  • It can take a lot of time to split out products and create Ad Groups unless you use Excel or third-party Shopping Campaign optimisation tools

In Conclusion

In the early days of setting up and managing Google Search Network campaigns, it was common practice to add over 10 to 20 keywords per Ad Group. We all know that better performance can be achieved by using one or two keywords per Ad Group, and the same applies to Google Shopping. There are performance gains to be made by being more granular with your Shopping campaign and Ad Group structures.

Why not let me know how you’re structuring your Google Shopping campaigns using the comments below?

Pete Keyworth has over 12 years of experience in helping businesses to build a successful online presence. From developing and executing search marketing strategies for B2C or B2B companies or setting up Google Shopping, Google AdWords text and display campaigns, Pete is an experienced member of the Hallam team.