Product Level SKU Performance For E-Commerce Clients

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with data when you’re working in paid search—so many different networks, metrics, campaigns, ad groups, keywords, ad creatives, and so on. An excellent account manager thrives on connecting these data points to tell the stories of your customers and your business.

For e-commerce clients in particular though, there is too often an overlooked data point in paid search: the actual products that people convert on.

Why It Matters
In your bid tool or your publisher interface, you can find which keywords or ads drove conversions and revenue for your client. This is all good to have—especially if your campaigns are organized in a clean, granular fashion.

But remember that we’re only tracking conversions for the keyword or ad that customers clicked on. We’re still one degree away from understanding what they actually bought.

As account managers, we need to do a better job at thinking the way a retailer thinks. Which most of the time has nothing to do with keywords on Google. We need to understand what people are actually buying.

Product Listing Ads
The most important use case here involves Google’s product listing ads. While this new program has shown great growth since its inception, it is still extremely complicated to understand exactly what you’re spending money on. In many cases, the complexity of PLAs leads to account managers routing all their traffic to an All Products target or ad group.

The problem with this approach is that it casts too wide a net. If you push up the max bid for this target, you’re pushing up bids for both your good and your bad products. If you leave the bid low and get comfortable with a good ROI at a low bid, you miss out on potential revenue that could come from having a higher bid.

We should be able to identify which products convert for a given product target and break those products out into their own ad groups and campaign. From there, you can measure performance, easily identify best sellers, create better promotions for specific products/product types, etc.

Benefits of Using Product Performance Data for PLAs
Take this example. A camera retailer has 50 products in a product target for a certain camera brand. Let’s say Nikon. So in Adwords you can see that your Nikon ad group and product target got you 40 conversions. You push up your bids here. After a few days, you see performance start to drop so you lower your bid.

What’s happening? When you raise your bid for the Nikon product target, you’re raising the bid for 50 products. You already know that different products have different returns on investment. If you could see the products that were driving the most revenue, you could raise your bids to be competitive on these specific Nikon products while keeping your larger group of 50 Nikon products at a lower bid.

Final Words: The Bigger Picture
There are many ways to tackle tracking depending on your bid tool. Kenshoo provides an easy way to append a KPID that works with your Google Merchant Center feed to give you product level performance data. Google Analytics can be easily configured to give you product performance data. Perhaps your client can provide you SKU performance from CoreMetrics, Omniture or their own conversion tracking sources.

The important thing to take away here is that with the arrival of Google PLAs for e-commerce clients, we must take time to think in terms of products—not keywords, ad groups or product targets. Get to know your clients’ products better. Create a dashboard so you can see new products that are driving revenue. Check your keyword coverage for these products. Research how competitive your pricing is. Think like a retailer.

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