Are you ready for the 2014 holiday season? Too soon?

Yes, it’s only February but, if you’re a retailer, you may want to begin thinking about when and how you can move your Product Listing Ads (PLAs) campaigns to the new Google Shopping campaigns.

Last October, Google announced the beta of Google Shopping campaigns as a new way to manage Product Listing Ads. Although Shopping Campaigns are still in beta, Google has said that in early 2014 they will be fully available. We expect that Google Shopping campaigns will be globally available soon and that they will be the future of PLAs.

Coming on the heels of a holiday season where global retail PLA spend increased 138% YoY, it is clear that PLAs are becoming a bigger part of the digital retail strategy. This growth makes it all the more important to understand what changes will come with the rollout of Google Shopping campaigns.

What’s New with Google Shopping Campaigns?

Product Inventory Visible in AdWords

Shopping campaigns were created to offer more visibility and flexibility for managing Product Listing Ads. To simplify setup, Google has made product feed data available within AdWords instead of only in the Google Merchant Center. Consolidating the ability to view and organize product inventory in AdWords simplifies the process of creating PLAs and makes them easier to maintain over time, driving greater efficiency.

Product Groups

Within Google Shopping campaigns, product targets will likely be replaced by product groups. It looks like with Google Shopping campaigns advertisers will use product groups to create their PLA structure as opposed to product targets.

Product groups provide an intuitive way for marketers to subdivide their product inventory based on attributes from their product feed. Marketers can add multiple layers of subdivisions that build on one another to create more granular targeting groups. For example, the top layer division could be by lines of product — Apparel & Accessories, Shoes and Purses — and another attribute from the feed could then be used to further subdivide these products by brand type.


This method of subdividing to create product groups prevents overlap in bidding for the same product in multiple places.

Tools for Greater Insights

Retailers managing PLAs through Kenshoo have had the ability to access product-level reporting to fine tune their PLA campaigns for almost a year and half. Google Shopping campaigns will give marketers access to product-level performance reporting where before product-level performance was only possible if you created a product target for each individual product. We believe that product-level reporting is an integral part to PLA campaigns, and are excited to see Google moving in this direction as well.

Google Shopping campaigns also provide benchmarking data for the average click-through rate (CTR) and max cost per click (CPC) for each product group. This information helps marketers understand the PLA competitive landscape and what bids could make them more competitive.  A bid simulator tool will help estimate the change in impression volume based on adjusting the bids. These tools will provide greater visibility into the PLA marketplace and help marketers make more strategic decisions.


Preparations and Predictions

We believe the added functionality in Google Shopping campaigns provides a more intuitive way to manage Product Listing Ads and we are working closely with Google so that Kenshoo retail clients can take advantage of these new features as soon as possible. Much like with the rollout of enhanced campaigns, we recommend a phased transition approach so that you can understand the new campaigns and how they will affect your program.

In the most recent Jefferies report, Kenshoo was identified as serving more PLAs than any other platform or advertiser due to our investment in creating the best PLA offering for our clients. As a leader, we foresee many retail successes being born out of pairing the new Google Shopping campaigns features with Kenshoo’s value-adding support in the areas of campaign management, optimization, reporting and attribution. We look forward to sharing many more success stories prior to 2014’s shopping season.