Kirk Williams Helps Shopping Ad Newbies and Veterans with his Setup to Strategy Tips

Kirk Williams at Confluence Conference

Kirk Williams, founder of ZATO, returned to the Confluence stage this year to enlighten us on the best strategies for profitable shopping ads. We have to admit, nothing makes a talk more interesting than kitten pictures, GIFs, funny pictures, and a precious photo of Kirk’s daughter.

He starts off the speech by telling us, “The thing with shopping ads to be aware of is automation plays a big role in this.”

In terms of automation, Google and Bing have been running automation with shopping for a few years. It can be good to know what’s going on in the backend so we can use this automation as a tool – opposed to going against it.

4 Aspects of Shopping Ads

1. Placement

If you are completely unaware of shopping ads, he tells us, “Basically where they show up (in Google and Bing) is on the top of SERPS, as well as in the shopping tab in Google.” We should also be aware of other search partners with shopping, such as Target.

When looking at ad placement, keep an eye out for new and emerging channels. Google is currently running a new AdWords Beta that shows basic shopping ads on the Google Display Network. In addition, Bing recently announced a new shopping ads manager.

2. Feeds

To get started, you need a feed provider or development team to push your product to the merchant center (mediator). If all the data is good, you will be eligible to show and control placement in AdWords and Bing Ads. Cool, right?

If you have a small feed or team, Williams suggests simply using a spreadsheet or shopping ecommerce platform. If you have a large feed, you should probably use your dev tem. Keep in mind, anyone can use a third-party feed provider such as Feedonomics or GoDataFeed.

When setting up your ad, make sure to pay attention to both required and recommended fields.

In the recommended fields, which are most important? Generally, the more information you put out there, the better – as long as it’s good information. Unless you sit around all day thinking, “Gee, I can’t wait to optimize my shopping fields,” you should probably focus on four fields.

First comes title and description. Find keywords to place in your title and description. Secondly, look at price. This is almost the most important field; but there’s not a ton we can do as marketers to control that. People respond more highly to lower prices in the SERPs. As Williams reminds us, “people love themselves a deal.”

Next, comes images. Test images. Actually, test everything! Standing out is really important. We are urged to test both model and product images. Click to this presentation for more tips.

Finally, use feed rules. Go into the merchant center and set some title tests. This allows you to try different things and put them in the feed fields without having to bug your dev team.

3. Set-Up

The first rule of setup is to go beyond Google/Bing’s automation. Good organization = better bidding by segmentation.  As you’re organizing your campaigns, make sure you’re organizing by allowing yourself to make better bidding decisions instead of practicing organization for the sake of better organization. “Because that’s dumb and also just kind of evil.”

How do we do this? Pull out high level product groupings into their own campaigns (product bands, categories) and segment these campaigns by specific query groupings to nail profit goals based on personal intent. Search is a form of communication. In fact, in some ways search marketing is the most individually accurate form of marketing there is because you are having more of an accurate conversation in some ways because someone is telling you “This is what I’m interested in at this exact moment.”

Williams shares an ongoing experiment he is conducting with shopping ads. He segments his campaigns by device. He reminds us that this is something new he is trying but recommends we try it as well.

4. Optimization

We made it to the Rapid Fire Round.  He quickly shared a few tricks he’s been doing that he really likes.

  • He tells us mining search query reports (SQRs) is more important than ever.
  • We are urged to use custom saved filters in the AdWords UI for automated-like manual bidding. Essentially create your own rules.
  • Practice income level targeting. This is especially recommended if you have products targeted toward more high-income individuals
  • Always keep attribution in mind. Ask, what source is sending the sale and how should we credit the sale?

Finally, he ended his speech with The Purple Mattress Debacle. You had to be there. It’s a great story. The moral of the story was: track the funnel. Attribution isn’t linear. Shopping is not often a last-click powerhouse because it is a comparison shopping engine. Users click to your ad, click to competitors’ sites, then come back to your site for the conversion.

Needless to say, our minds were all reeling with all the awesome new knowledge bombs just dropped on us. Who else is excited to start practicing these tips?