Google Shopping is complex and getting more so. And there are a handful of mistakes we see cropping up time and again in the campaigns we audit and onboard. It goes without saying that these are best avoided and can greatly damage campaign performance, resulting in wasted spend.

It’s the same as the PPC mistakes we see time and again - there’s so much talk of best-practice, much of which is conflicting, that it’s so easy to get lost in a sea of bad advice and start making basic mistakes when it comes to Google Shopping.

Happily, many of these mistakes are easy to fix and simply require a little patience, thought and awareness to solve. Below, we highlight the six most common Google Shopping mistakes (that we see) and how you can avoid and/or fix them.

6 Common Google Shopping Mistakes (And how to avoid them)

1. Thinking Inside the Box

Bid strategies are very good at going after whatever you have set as your objective - most commonly revenue. Unfortunately, the limitation of optimising for revenue alone is that it does not account for product margin.

Google has launched additional shopping columns within the interface to enhance data insight that supports bidding and budgetary decision making to deliver a greater return.

These attributes are as follows:

Gross Profit: Gross profit is the amount that you made from all transactions attributed to clicks on this ad, after taking out the cost of goods sold (COGS). Here is gross profit in a formula: Revenue - COGS = Gross profit

Cost Of Goods Sold: Cost of goods sold (COGS) is the total amount of business costs that are attributed to a certain product. Here is COGS in a formula: Revenue – COGS = Gross profit

Note: you must report item-level information for each of your conversions to use this type of reporting.

These additional columns allow you to understand the wider business impact of shopping ads and look beneath the mask of revenue (which does not account for tax, shipping and cost of goods).

2. Less Haste, More Speed

    Manual feed adjustments can take up precious in-house resource, particularly when an advertiser has many adjustments, across multiple feed attributes.

    While manual feed adjustments have their advantages, if resources are tight outsourcing to your account manager with the backing of a feed management provider is likely to uncover a pool of untapped opportunities.

    The benefits of using a feed management provider are as follows:

    Data Engine - plug all your data sources into one platform and integrate them into a single feed output.

    Data Manipulation - optimise attributes from multiple sources and increase ad competitiveness.

    A/B Tests - determine what does and does not work, as opposed to leaving it to guesswork.

    Extended Reach - utilise pre-built feed templates for hundreds of additional feed-based channels, with no IT dependency.

    Shopping Innovation - use smart rules and dynamic custom labels to take your digital media strategy to the next level.

    Using a feed management provider helps advertisers to fast-track growth due to the large increase of tools at their digital media managers disposal.

    If you're concerned about feed health, there are a number of core attributes that you absolutely can’t ignore when setting up a properly optimised Google Shopping Feed.

    3. Sweating The Small Stuff

      Over-segmentation of shopping campaigns and their product groups is a common problem. We understand the need for greater insight, but this is not the way to get it as it may be hindering the very performance you are trying hard to develop.

      It is important when considering your shopping campaign structure that every campaign gets around 50 conversions per month to support the platform’s machine learning capabilities. If a campaign comes under this requirement, it will still invest but will make less data-driven bidding decisions.

      With best practice, simplified and increasingly top-level shopping campaign structure, insight is not lost. This will remain accessible within the Predefined Reports section of Google Ads. Here it is possible to review performance by:

      • Item ID

      • Brand

      • Custom Label (Attribute 0 to 4)

      • Product Type (Attribute 1 to 5)

      • Category (Attribute 1 to 5)

      By choosing a higher-level shopping campaign structure, you will continue to benefit from the same level of insight without hindering performance.

      4. Underutilisation

        Before considering paid media growth, it is vital to fully utilise every free click opportunity.

        In October 2020 Surfaces Across Google was launched in the UK, offering advertisers free clicks on some areas of Google.

        Advertisers that do not have all their available products within their shopping feed are missing out on free advertising and therefore free conversions.

        What is Surfaces Across Google?

        Surfaces Across Google is a Merchant Center programme that allows your products to appear in unpaid product listings on Google surfaces including Google Search, the Google Shopping tab and Google Images.

        To ensure you get as many free clicks are possible, it is important to have 100% of available products within your feed. Also, within your Merchant Center the ‘Surfaces Across Google’ programme status needs to be set up and active.

        5. Set and Forget

          Feed attribute optimisation is critical for all advertisers who are looking to remain competitive. It is important not to set and forget as Google is regularly adjusting its Shopping auction and ranking algorithm to advance user search experience.

          We regularly check feeds against their corresponding platform feed specification to identify where adjustments are needed.

          Another good place to review feed health is in the respective Merchant Center Diagnostic tab. The products with disapprovals or warnings will get limited to no traction.

          By complying with the data feed specification, your feed rank will be higher, boosting ad visibility and all for a lower Cost Per Click than you would have been required to pay for a less optimised feed.

          6. Only Using Google Shopping

            Bing is the dark horse of digital media buying - that includes shopping. We continue to see encouraging results on the platform and its market share is continuing to increase.

            It is important not to forget other shopping networks like this, particularly as the competitive environment can be less aggressive with lower CPCs commonly noted in comparison to Google. In addition, the platform has an older, wealthier, more desktop heavy userbase.

            If you are only using Google Ads, then you should strongly consider extending your media buying onto Bing with the view to laying the groundwork for reaching more new users and delivering a healthier return on investment.

            Final Thoughts

            Google Shopping, like other areas of digital media buying, can be a complex beast and investing wisely is important if you are to deliver the maximum return for your eCommerce business.

            The good news is that by avoiding the common Google Shopping mistakes above you can unlock additional data insight and better inform your decision making, use resource more wisely and fast-track growth, and make better use of features and networks that will aid profitability without impeding performance.