The Importance of Feed Management for Google Shopping

January 25th, 2016 by Nikki Kuhlman

BLOG-The-Importance-of-Feed-ManagementI’ve been to Google three times for Shopping campaign training, and at least half the time is spent on optimizing the feed. The reason behind that it because, as a Googler (who I will not mention by name) loves to say, “Crap in, crap out.” The feed is the backbone of your PLA campaigns. That means if the data in your feed is bad or missing information, it won’t matter if the Shopping campaigns are set up perfectly, they won’t be as successful.

So what makes for a good data feed?

1. Unique Product Identifiers: these include Brand, UPCs (for the US, or other Global Trade Item Numbers for other countries) and Manufacturer Part Numbers. These are used to match against Google’s product catalog to make sure a product is valid. It also levels the playing field against your competitors. If you both have the same item in your feeds, but your competitor has the Brand, UPC and MPN and you only have Brand and MPN, they will “win” the auction because Google will value their product over yours.

2. Product Content: which includes Title, Product Category and Description. Title is absolutely, hands down, the most important thing you can do to show up on relevant searches. Here’s two examples – guess which one will show show up on more relevant searches?

a. Example 1: Blue T-Shirt
b. Example 2: Nike Men’s Blue Crew-Neck Short Sleeve T-Shirt, Size Medium

Yes, you guessed it – example 2. Having things like gender, color, style and size in the title are very important. And Brand can also be important if it’s a brand with name recognition.

3. Pricing: which includes Product Price, Sale Price, Tax and Shipping. If the price in your feed doesn’t match the price on your landing page, your Merchant Account can and will get suspended. Same with shipping costs – shipping must calculate properly or Google will suspend the Merchant Account.

The bottom line is to fill in the data gaps. There’s also additional attributes that can really help, like full descriptions, color, size etc. The more information you give Google, the better chance you will have to show.

Other tips include updating the feed data daily – Google likes fresh content. If you can’t do daily, at least do weekly. And good quality images are another place to concentrate.

Last year JumpFly started offering feed management services to their existing clients. It’s really made a difference for many clients on how well their Shopping feeds do, as the Account Managers can work directly with the Feed Manager to make sure the titles and information is optimized. It’s also helped reduce the dreaded “feed expired” issues we’ve had for some clients in the past who have forgot to upload a new feed.

Tablet-Friendly Websites and PPC Advertising

May 20th, 2014 by Nikki Kuhlman

BLOG-tabfriendlyMy husband was trying to buy Blue Man Group tickets recently from his iPad. Blue Man Group uses Ticketmaster for processing and buying the tickets, but Ticketmaster requires Flash to pick the seats he wanted. After a large amount of frustration and multiple attempts, he had to pull out his laptop, and start all over.

I had something similar happen – I was on my iPad and buying a magazine subscription as a gift for a friend. I entered my billing information, but needed to click a link in order to change name and address for the recipient. I’d click the link, and a window would flash for a second and disappear. I ended up having to pick up the phone and call the company and place my order over the phone. I told the rep the problem I was having and she asked me if I was on an iPad, as it was known issue.

The point of these two stories is that both of these sites were not iPad-friendly. (I’ve talked to friends with Android tablets, and they’ve ran into similar instances where sites didn’t work properly so this is not isolated to iOS devices.) Both these companies spend a lot of money marketing to people, bringing people to their websites hoping they will buy, yet their sites aren’t optimized to work well, regardless of the device a visitor is on. How many people get frustrated and don’t pick up the phone? How many just say heck with it and go buy from the competition?

What Does This Have to Do With PPC?

There are two compelling reasons:

  1. As of January 2014, 42% of American adults own a tablet. That’s up from 34% of adults in September.  The rate of adoption is massive. Tablets aren’t just for “youngsters” either – the highest rate of ownership is in the 30-to-49 year-old age range.
  2. Google does not allow you to exclude advertising on tablet devices. While you can prevent Google ads (either search or Display network) from showing on smartphones, Google does not allow for tablet exclusion. That ability went away as of July of 2013 when Google transitioned all accounts to Expanded Campaigns. (Their reasoning is that tablets are very similar to desktops.)

The problem is that tablet and desktop do not always convert the same. I did a quick review of 14 of my largest B-to-C ecommerce clients that also tracked revenue in Google Analytics. Tablet traffic ranged from 10.55% to 26% of overall site traffic. And not one single company had tablet conversion rates that were the same or nearly the same as their desktop traffic. The closest was a difference of 7%, but the majority ranged from 20 to 50% lower conversion rates, and one even had a tablet conversion rate that was 74% lower than their desktop traffic! And only three of them generated nearly the same percentage of revenue as their tablet traffic (for example, one client gets 19.97% of traffic from tablets and earns 20% of their revenue from the same). Most were much less, with the average being around 33% less tablet revenue than their tablet traffic with some as low as 70% less.

This doesn’t just affect PPC management –  it also affects a client’s natural listings, not just from tablets but also mobile devices. (You don’t want to know the statistics of conversion rate on mobile!) JumpFly is not an SEO company, but my point is that this problem affects more than just advertising dollars, it affects overall site revenue. If your sales are declining and you can’t figure out why, it’s very possible a tablet or mobile site user experience. This traffic is coming to your site and you can’t stop it, and it’s only going to increase. (I’m seeing desktop traffic decreasing and tablet and mobile traffic increasing in client after client after client.) Don’t alienate or frustrate your tablet (and mobile) customers. Make sure that your prospective customers the ability to shop on your site, from whatever device they want.

Google Enhanced Campaigns Device Targeting

February 21st, 2013 by Nikki Kuhlman

BLOG-enhancedCamp-device

On Thursday, February 21st, Google completed their second Webcast in the Enhanced Campaign Series, called “Device Bid Adjustments and Smarter Mobile Ads.”

Andy Miller, Google’s Head of Mobile Search Sales and Strategy and one of the presenters, stated that less than 5% of AdWords advertisers had separate mobile campaigns (mobile is defined by Google AdWords as a Smart Phone and does not include Tablets). Enhanced Campaigns were created to “simplify” the situation for that 5%. This begs the question, if so few advertisers were doing it, why was it so important to combine all devices back into one campaign? That question was not answered.

But to focus on what’s coming, and how it may impact your PPC management, here’s the pros and cons of the new Device Targeting.

Pros:

– The ability to set a base PC bid, and then set a bid adjustment either higher or lower for a mobile device (from -100% to +300%).

– The ability to bid differently based on geographic location (range is from -90% to +900%). For example, I can set my bid adjustment to 200% for someone who searches and is within 5 miles of my pizza place.

– The ability to set my bid adjustment based on time of day (range is from -90% to +900%). This is something they’ve always had, so not really new, they just didn’t take it away.

– Google will determine which ad makes the most sense to show to a searcher, based on device (also see Con list). You can create a mobile-optimized ad, and click a check-box for Mobile preferred, and if the searcher is on a mobile device, your mobile preferred ad takes precedence over your standard text ad.

– According to Google, it will make management of your campaigns simpler. Instead of having copies of campaigns for each device and having to manage and optimize each separately, now there will only be one place to manage it.

Cons:

– You can’t opt out of mobile. We have clients whose sites do not work on mobile devices, due to flash or other reasons. We don’t want to show on them. We can’t opt out. The best we can do is set our mobile bid adjustment to -100%. That’s supposed to prevent you from showing on mobile devices.

– You can’t opt out of showing on tablets. I have clients whose sites do not work on tablets, but I have absolutely no way to stop them from showing on those devices.

– You also can’t bid differently, higher or lower, on tablets. We also have clients where we specifically target tablets more aggressively than desktop, but I can’t do that either.

– All bid adjustments are at the campaign level only. That means if I have an AdGroup or a keyword that performs differently (either better or worse) than the PC/tablet, I can’t bid differently.

– Google will determine which ad makes the most sense to show to a searcher, based on device (see Pro list). You can create a mobile-optimized ad, and click a checkbox for mobile preferred, but based on comments I’m seeing on Twitter from people who have Mobile Preferred ads, those ads are being truncated, so for now, it’s in the Con column.

– You can’t opt out of specific operating systems and you can’t bid differently to them. If I have an iPhone app that I want to advertise, I can’t stop my ads from showing on Android devices. We have clients that have iPad-only apps, but  I can’t stop my ads from showing on Android tablets at all, and I’ll have to make sure to bid at -100% for mobile devices.

– You can’t opt out of desktop. We’re absolutely stuck here. There’s no way to bid higher on a mobile device and lower on desktop, because desktop bids are the baseline bid that all bid adjustments work off of.

@bsquatch tweeted during the webcast: “Sorry, you still have to order anchovies, just request 100% less than normal.” That is a fantastic analogy. To take it a bit further, let’s “order” a Google AdWords pizza. You hate anchovies, green peppers and onions, so you ask for -100% less of those toppings, and -50% mushrooms because you’re not a huge mushroom fan but some is okay. You really like tomatoes and garlic, so you order 150% of those. And finally, you’re trying to be good and would like thin crust, but it’s not an option – your only option is deep dish. That’s how the Enhanced Campaign rollout is at the moment – but the hope is that over time, more options will come available.

I’m trying really hard to refrain from judgement on whether Enhanced Campaigns will be good for our clients or not until we start running them and see how they perform. I honestly think there’s some great things about it for those advertisers who are local or have brick-and-mortar stores. The clients I’m most worried about are ecommerce without brick-and-mortars. Only will time will tell how this affects them.