Shopping Ad Campaigns

Shopping Partner ShopifyThere’s a reason Shopping ad campaigns will account for 60% of Google’s revenue in 2021. They power eCommerce! Blastoff Labs has developed time-tested methods to design, re-engineer, and optimize high-performance Google and Microsoft-powered shopping campaigns.

Shopping Ad CampaignsShopping Scales Up

We’ve built successful shopping campaigns from as small as 10 SKUs (products) in the product feed, up to several hundred thousand SKUs. But the average Shopping campaign we see contains from 2,000 to 30,000 SKUs in the feed.

Getting Shopping Campaign Architecture Right Is Key

The campaign architecture chosen is critical to success, so we shape the structure of shopping campaigns and accounts to fit your product line, market, business priorities, and ad spend budget. With some feeds, we deploy Smart Shopping campaigns in an account, usually hybrid with standard shopping campaigns.

Feed Optimization For Shopping Campaigns

Our precision feed optimization process took several years to refine and continues to evolve. Without quality shopping campaign feed optimization, a shopping account will be permanently added.

Augmented Shopping Campaign Reporting – Tabular Reporting by Segment

Our shopping campaign reporting summarizes campaign metrics providing performance visibility at the ad group, product group, customer label, product type, and even SKU levels. For shopping, our reporting is augmented by tabular reports grouped by product attribute.

Our Systematic Approach To Shopping Campaign Development

Below are the steps we’ve developed to design, launch, and manage superior eCommerce shopping campaigns.


Google Shopping Campaigns Review“Helped scale our PPC campaign and Shopping feed tremendously. Highly recommended! “Blastoff” isn’t just a name, they mean it!”

Manager, Horn Blasters

eCommerce Photo Shoot
eCommerce product photo shoot underway at Blastoff Labs

Shopping Campaigns: Our 13-Stage Development Process

Shopping Competitor Analysis • CRO Feedback

Digital Ad Platform

Shopping Campaign Competitive Assessment

Each product search entered into a search engine creates one or more electronic auctions where advertisers bid for available ad slots on the Shopping ad “carousel being” being served to the prospective buyer.

We identify direct and indirect competitors, familiarizing ourselves with their products, services, and positioning in the market. We look at the advertising history, ad copy, ad spend, and market positioning of the most significant online competition.

While spidering competitive websites we can extract entire product feeds to examine feed attribute details. During this process we gain a level of understanding which is uniquely useful in structuring and configuring Shopping campaigns.

Product Feed Optimization

Shopping Campaign Feed Merchant Center

Product Feed Optimization Success

In eCommerce Shopping campaigns, the quality of product feed optimization is critical to success. It’s an underlying foundation upon which everything else in a Shopping campaign will depend.

Without a well-optimized feed the campaign will never reach its potential. Shopping campaigns with weak feeds in competitive markets will reliably fail.

Many feeds contain thousands or tens of thousands of product SKUs. In addition to their sheer size, there is often great variability between products and brands. As a result, optimizing shopping feeds often requires a significant investment of effort.

Shopping platforms crawl (“spider”), and index 4 fields in the product feed: the Title, Description, Product Category, and Product Type. Data in those fields have to be set up correctly.

Shopping Campaign Structure • Negative Keyword Discovery

Shopping Campaign Object Model

Structure Shopping Campaigns

Individual shopping campaigns are structured internally on two levels: Product Groups, and Ad Groups.

Product Groups provide a mechanism to group together similar products within the feed. You can create product groups using various attributes present in the feed. Typically this is used to bid similar products and product variants at the Product Group level. 

Each product group is a subset of the feed. The bids are then controlled at the product group level. This can save a great deal of time while managing campaigns with sizeable feeds. When benefitical we utilize ad groups with ad-group level negative keywords to influence keyphrase matching.

Negative Keyword Base

Shopping Campaign Negative Keyword Discovery

Negative keyword discovery is feature that shouldn’t be neglected when targeting a shopping ad campaign.

Negative keywords applied in a shopping campaign act as an inhibitor, or overlay on the positive targeting methods. They allow us to “shape” with a bit more more precision, who the ads serve to. For example, we might exclude certain age groups and/or income levels.

In addition to using negative keywords, it may be beneficial to exclude certain targeting audiences. “Negative” audiences frequently can improve campaign performance by making them more selective. Examples might include negative in-market audiences, interests, demographics such age, gender, income level, parental, homeownership status and other demographic information.

Shopping Audiences • Serving Parameters

Audience Targeting Method

Shopping Campaign Audience Configuration

Shopping campaigns’ primary targeting mechanism is keyword matching between the search query and the product feed, with minimal advertiser control.  Audiences provide a mechanism for improving the relevancy of the auctions where the campaign bids for ad slots.

There is sometimes significant benefit gained by excluding certain audiences from targeting. Negative audiences can help to shape campaign performance in the same fashion as positive audiences.

Blastoff develops audience profiles that serve to maximize the performance of Shopping campaigns over time.

Shopping Campaign Parameters

Shopping Campaign Serving Parameters

When setting up shopping campaign serving parameters, bidding is the central issue. Manual bidding at launch is the best way to force shopping campaigns to develop serving momentum quickly.

The manual bidding period provides a baseline to optimize against going forward. It also provides confirmation that we’re bidding up to the “Benchmark” shopping bid level. 

When setting up serving schedules, our scheduling preference is usually to allow the campaigns to initially run 24x7x365 Many campaigns perform well at surprising times, during days of the week and hours of the day you might not expect.

In some b2b eCommerce markets, we will run campaigns on weekdays only and perhaps not overnight. There are time zone spans to consider, for example in the US, making sure East coast campaigns stay on late enough to shop up for West coast end-of-day business traffic.

Setup Conversion Tracking

search ad conversion tracking

Conversion Tracking Setup For Shopping Campaigns

For eCommerce Shopping ad campaigns, conversion tracking setup is important because it allows for calculating the two most important metrics in paid search: return on ad spend, and advertising margin.

More importantly, it provides valuable information back to the automated bidding algorithms, which uses machine learning logic to maximize the performance of the campaign.

When a Shopping campaign sends accurate conversion tracking conversion values back to the automated bidding logic, automated bidding with machine learning can deliver significant performance improvements, and greatly reduce campaign management time.

Configure Reporting • Setup Analytics

Shopping Campaign Reporting

Shopping Campaign Reporting Setup

Our shopping campaign performance management reports are designed to fit your eCommerce business objectives, product line(s), and campaigns. We include standard key performance indicators (KPI’s), or we can implement custom KPI’s most closely aligned to your business objectives. 

One difference with our shopping reporting is our segmented performance tables. Many shopping campaigns advertise thousands of SKU’s so it can be quite helpful to view performance in tabular form, with sorting.

Our tabular reports can be segmented and summarize performance by product line, ad group, product type, product group, or custom label parameter – whichever is most useful to your business.

Search Campaigns Reporting Sources

Shopping Campaign Web Analytics

To configure search campaign web analytics, we link the associated Web Analytics accounts with the PPC ads account(s). We also configure an Analytics profile that’s set up to support monitoring and analysis of the paid search campaigns.

This will include Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Search Console, Google Merchant Account, and similar Microsoft Advertising Accounts.

We may likely also request a login to the backend (Administrative access) area of your website.  Typically this is needed when we anticipate installing plugin’s such at the GTM plugin, or a call tracking plugin.

Launch Shopping Campaigns

Blastoff Labs Project Launch

Shopping Campaign Launch

During the period immediately after a shopping campaign launch, we’re monitoring impressions and CPC’s. We’re also on the lookout for major issues such as a single product group consuming excessive ad spend. 

Conversion tracking is checked for functionality and accuracy. Geo-targeting is monitored for any anomalies, CPC’s are checked for any out of line behavior, and the campaign is scanned for errors or warnings.

This post-launch optimization phase typically lasts 3 to 6 weeks for an average scale shopping ad campaign. A Shopping campaign enters semi-automated “orbit” once it has transitioned onto automated bidding

Optimize • Automate • Manage Performance

Campaign Automation

Shopping Campaign Optimization & Automation

Shopping campaign optimization is radically different from the optimization of the other three fundamental types of paid search campaigns.

Shopping campaigns operate on structured data, being driven by an eCommerce database, where text and images for each individual product reside.  So shopping campaign optimization in part involves optimization of the text and images in the eCommerce database.

There are a number of different approaches to structuring shopping campaigns, and the structure has to be right or it will be more difficult to improve performance through optimization.

Ad Spend Allocation Breakdown

Shopping Campaign Performance Management

Shopping campaigns require more ongoing management for several reasons.  Most eCommerce stores are frequently updating their inventory, competitive products arrive at slightly lower prices, and as a feed changes automated bidding may require recalibration. 

The Shopping platforms are constantly monitoring eCommerce campaigns that utilize their ad platform.  Typically this is done by bots and it frequently results in Merchant Center exceptions, warnings, and errors arriving in the form of unwelcome emails. We monitor Shopping campaigns for these issues and handle them as they arrive. 

Reporting and performance management is a crucial need for eCommerce advertisers. Most of our eCommerce clients receive reports monthly, detailing performance in the period vs previous periods, and highlighting work on ongoing challenges/issues.