How Brands See Green Through Google Shopping Campaigns



Search on the keyword "green" in Google's search engine, and query results hand back a bunch of stuff. The color -- you guessed it -- green. Consumers saw a lot of red for Valentine's Day in February, and will likely see the color of lush trees, shrubs and flower stems during the month of March for Saint Patrick's Day.

It has become easier to segment shirts, skirts and other colorful items into categories in search campaigns. Google introduced Shopping campaigns last year to a limited number of advertisers as a way to manage and promote products on Google through AdWords. Now the company has rolled out the feature to all AdWords users, allowing marketers to organize product categories in product listing ads, as well as optimize bids through detailed reporting.

Shopping campaigns enable marketers to categorize inventory into product groups. Clothing retailers can create groups for shirts or pants to get information on average bid prices that can help marketers optimize campaigns, as well as identify trends in inventory. Breakout the green shirts and start a new product group around St. Patrick's Day to highlight the holiday in product listing ads.

"We have a color value listed in the Adwords Labels column, but the data hasn't been as compelling for us to create targets as other label values we submit, such as category, subcategory, product name, on sale vs not on sale," said Todd Bowman, director at Rimm-Kaufman Group. "For the new Shopping Campaigns, we have been very conservative with our tests because the format was launched so close to the holidays. As an agency, we rely heavily on the Adwords API to pull cost reports, which is not available for Shopping Campaigns yet." 

Bowman explains how marketers created a hybrid approach, starting with an "All Products" target, and then moving to more granular targets based top products and categories. The agency also relies on product level and target data to help create new targets.

Along with its proprietary tools, Bowman said RKG marketers determine new combinations of products to targets ads and predict how they will perform. The targets have been successful in lowering CPCs, as well as increasing sales and conversion rates.

"When the new API is ready, we plan to move our campaigns to the new format and continue with the same approach," he said. "While the combinations may not be as important to creating targets in the new Shopping Campaigns, we will be able to identify more granular labels, categories and other available information very quickly and launch new Product Groups regularly to take advantage of new opportunities."

Rich Brown, head of paid search at fashion boutique Farfetch, explains that the company created product groups for the top 25 brands and top sellers. The strategy saw a 6% reduction in cost per click and a 13% increase in conversion rate. The combined benefit of the two improvements led to a 20% decline in CPAs since launching Shopping campaigns.

A Google spokesperson points to seasonal products, sales items and flash sales, products with high margins or high ROI as other examples. Marketers can group these into a campaign and then assign the campaign high, medium or low priority to determine the ones to serve or prioritize.

Aside from categorizing categories, Google also plans to release an application programming interface (API) and a bid simulator.

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