millions of SKUs for products and variants

How to Manage Millions of SKUs in Google Shopping Outline

Large e-commerce, fashion and retail companies managing millions of product SKUs in Google Shopping are often inundated with updates and revisions. It’s easy for these digital teams to focus on new opportunities & changes while forgetting about existing account structure. The result is an inconsistent and bloated account that is both time-consuming and costly to manage. However, there are some best practices when it comes to managing products within Google Shopping.

Some companies try and alleviate the issue by having product managers oversee different product groups or segments. Unfortunately, tunnel vision takes hold and it’s not uncommon for digital marketing teams to miss the big picture. However, there are some best practices when it comes to managing products within Google Shopping.

Be Aware of Limits: Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Targeting

Google won’t let you build an infinite number of campaigns and ad groups. This makes campaign and account set up critical. Pre-planning your campaigns and ad groups will save time and resources while helping you avoid the hassles of making real-time adjustments on the fly. Managing too many SKUs makes targeting specific groups and audiences problematic at best, so be aware of Google’s imposed limits when you’re laying out your account. Remember, it’s not a question of reaching your limit but more about managing your SKUs with a consolidation mindset. 

Be mindful where you apply targeting so that you’re within your ad group targeting limits. Try moving as much of your targeting information—such as audience, location and device modifiers—to the campaign level so that you’re not forced to update individual ad groups each time. Doing this at the campaign level will remove the time-consuming step of having to review and update individual ad groups. Here are a quick summary and breakdown of targeting limits directly from Google’s definition of account limits.

  • 10,000 campaigns per account: Google allows up to 10,000 campaigns per account; this includes both active and paused / on-hold accounts.
  • 20,000 ad groups per campaign: Again, it’s not a question of reaching your limits but one of proactively managing your product SKUs. 
  • 20,000 targeting items per ad group: Included in these targeting items are keywords, placements, audience lists, product group bids and exclusions.
  • 5 million ad group targeting items per account: Again, targeting items are keywords, placements and audience lists.  
  • 1 million campaign targeting items per account: This involves location targets and campaign-level negative keywords.
  • 10,000 location targets per campaign: This includes upwards of 500 proximity targets for each campaign.

Proactively Manage Your AdWords Shared Library

Google’s AdWords Shared Library allows e-commerce, retail and fashion enterprises to manage shared settings and targets for individual campaigns or multiple campaigns. This saves you a substantial amount of time as your ads and campaigns grow because you’re able to make multiple changes across multiple campaigns. Audiences, campaign negative keywords, and placement exclusions are three elements of the library. How you manage these elements ultimately determines how you manage your account overall and where you focus your efforts.

Audiences are your customer segments, buyer personas or the market segments you’re focused on. You’ll be able to define these audiences by who visits your website, who clicks on your ads and who you focus your overall digital marketing campaigns on. Campaign negative keywords are search terms and words you pre-set in order to stop your ads from being shown. If any of your negative keywords are used in a search, then your ad won’t show up. Finally, your campaign placement exclusions are similar to negative keywords in that you’re able to stop your ads from appearing on certain websites or domains. 

Plan Your Negatives: Your negatives can be applied at the campaign, ad group, or shared library at the campaign level. Proactively managing your negative structures will help once your account starts to grow. Identify why you’re adding these negatives, if there are any similarities on these negatives across campaigns and ad groups, and define how often you’ll update them. Auditing your negative keywords helps as some search terms may change due to seasonality and trends. A good rule of thumb is to separate negatives for keyword targeting from negatives for poor ad performance so you can avoid crossover and duplicated efforts. 

Campaign Custom Label Filters: Make sure to use all of your five allocated custom feed label attributes. A number of large e-commerce, retail and fashion companies will segregate top selling product SKUs using custom labels, which is a great way to keep those hot ticket items selling. Others break out specific products during holidays or special promotions. Use these custom label attributes to target traffic not addressed by other campaigns. For new products, use “catch-alls” across campaigns/ad groups/product groups so that all your product SKUs in inventory are targeted. 

Focus on Automation: Eliminate the time-consuming, redundant and repetitive manual tasks by streamlining processes or creating bulk templates for immediate uploads. Google AdWords Editor is free and available to all eCommerce, retail and fashion advertising teams. Solutions like Kenshoo, Marin, and Google’s own DoubleClick, provide bulk uploading and editing capabilities. In fact, Kenshoo offers what it calls “campaign mirroring” to easily replicate campaign structures within accounts.

Duplicate Success and Eliminate Errors: While this last point is fairly self-explanatory, it’s amazing how often it’s overlooked. Be sure to have a plan in place that empowers your team to duplicate their successes, while avoiding past mistakes. Define periods of review and determine key performance indicators (KPI) for campaigns and ad formats that are linked to company-wide goals. This will help your paid search team adjust to new tactics and emerging trends. Finally, standardize reporting so that updates and reviews are easier and less time-consuming.

Properly setting up your account from the beginning will pay dividends long-term. It’s easy to lose time managing campaigns and ads where the only focus is on putting out one fire after another. Focus on a strategic approach to managing your account and simplify how and when you make changes.

If you're looking for additional Shopping insights, then read our 2018 Search and Shopping Trends Report for trends analysis and recommendations from the experts.

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