A new spin on Google Shopping promotional offers

Over the past few years, Google has made significant changes in how they serve ads for product and shopping related searches.  With the improved user experience provided by the Shopping Ad format, we now see these ads taking a prominent position for nearly every search containing product or shopping intent.  This space has become extremely competitive and retailers are always seeking ways to gain the upper hand.

One way that Google tries to help advertisers stand out is by providing them with the ability to include promotions in their Shopping Ads.  This allows a retailer to stand out from their competition and potentially capture more sales.  However, this feature from Google sometimes comes with unexpected side effects.  It can definitely drive additional sales, but may do so with the unintended consequence of causing a large volume of additional low value clicks.  This is because the promotional offer included in the ad is compelling not only to those interested in buying the product from your brand, but also to tire-kickers browsing around for bargains with almost no intention to buy.

In order to gain this same lift in sales, while also controlling costs, test serving a promotional offer to users visiting your site from a Google Shopping ad, but only AFTER they have clicked through to your site.  Each ecommerce platform has its own way of doing this, but the best practice would be to present the offer in a banner on the landing page to this specific segment of users.  This tactic will likely result in the same sales lift found by placing the promotion on the ad itself.  It may actually result in a larger lift due to the pleasant surprise experienced by users.  Additionally, because the offer is not being displayed in the ad, you will avoid paying for extra clicks from discount tire-kickers.  Only users that have shown interest in your product, without an incentive, are being exposed to the offer, and the promotion simply helps them continue down the funnel.

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Automated Bidding and RLSA Audiences

Google continually churns out new features to help paid search marketers optimize their advertising campaigns in AdWords.  These powerful tools can certainly have a tremendous impact on both the efficiency and scale of your advertising efforts.  However, sometimes the interplay of these features is less known.  Here we’ll take a look at how to leverage automated bidding and audiences together to get the most out of your paid search investments.

For AdWords campaigns that have enough conversion volume, marketers have the ability to enable automated bidding.  This feature allows Google to increase or decrease bids based on campaign performance and your business objectives.  There are a few different options available, including automating your bidding to hit a target return on ad spend (ROAS).

Google Analytics and Google AdWords can also be used together to create remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA).  This feature allows you to create audiences based on actions users have previously taken on your website.  These audiences can then be targeted in paid search campaigns or have bids modified based on their potential value.  For example, with RLSA a marketer could increase bids for users that had added items to their shopping cart but have not yet converted.

Automated bidding and RLSA are powerful tools on their own and can be even more powerful when used together.  Imagine allowing bids to be automated to hit your business objectives, while also providing Google the flexibility to increase or decrease bids based on a user’s previous behavior and likelihood to convert.  This sounds great in theory, but to ensure Google will adjust bids for RLSA audiences, the structure of your audiences is absolutely critical.

The key is to make sure there is no overlap in RLSA audiences.  Put another way, audiences should be structured in a fashion that makes it impossible for a user to be part of more than one audience at a time.  This is because Google automated bidding will forego making audience bid adjustments if a user is part of multiple audiences (which defeats the purpose of RLSA).  To avoid this, approach setting up your audiences with both inclusions and exclusions.  For example, if your first audience includes “previous converters”, consider defining your next audience as including “cart additions” while excluding “previous converters.”  By continuing to layer inclusions and exclusions in this manner you can be certain that any potential audience overlap has been eliminated.

Consider defining your audiences in this fashion for your next paid search campaign.  Doing so will allow you to take full advantage of both automated bidding and RLSA audience bid adjustments.