Google Shopping Ads: 3 Strategies for Underperforming Campaigns

Google Shopping ads are nothing new in digital marketing. Online shops have been using this type of ppc campaign to drive visits to the website and sell their stock with a great deal of success in the past.

Since the launch of Google Shopping back in 2012 a few things happened:

1). rapid increase for shopping ads demand making advertising more expensive

2). the rise of alternative shopping platforms like Amazon

3). click growth slow down over time (as a knock-on effect of the 2 factors above)

Despite the above points, Google Shopping still remains a number one platform for driving traffic that converts. It is simply because shopping ads serve enquiries with high purchase intent. What’s more, shopping ads are a visual information of a product, rather than a plain text, impacting users’ interaction flow in a positive way.

Still, to make these work for your business, perhaps it’s time to break out of “standard practices” shackles and apply digital marketing strategies that work today.

So, If you are wondering how to get more out of your Google Shopping ads , checkout these 3 strategies below and get inspired to drive growth for your ecommerce store.

Bear in mind though that this post isn’t intended to give you a step-by-step guide that will be suitable for all. It’s designed to give you additional ideas and inspire you to do more with your shopping ads.

You will learn:

  • Key Tactics that will allow you to implement and test your strategy
  • Potential benefits for your account’s performance
  • Important facts to keep in mind before adding a new strategy

TAT Strategy: Tweak And Test

Tweak and Test Strategy has one single rule. Pick one tactic at a time to test different approaches and to pin down what really worked.

Best For: 

This strategy is for those business owners or marketing managers who only use standard Google Shopping campaigns but feel they could squeeze a little bit more out of their shopping ads.

Key Tactics:

  • Search Query Categorisation
  • Segmentation of Products for Data Feed into Products Groups

Search Query Categorisation – for this tactic to work, you will need to look into your search term report form your Standard Shopping ads and group these queries based on their search intent. You want to match your queries with the funnel stage user might be after typing a given keyword.

For example, for a shop that sells furniture, the queries that can indicate the user’s intent as a research stage (top of the funnel) will likely be: ‘furniture’ ‘3 seater sofas’, ‘dining tables’ etc.

On the other hand, consideration or buying intent will be expressed by queries such as: ‘find 3 seater sofa in grey’ or ‘buy a dining table’.

Once you have your groups of search queries, create one Standard Shopping campaign for each search query group.

You cannot do keyword targeting in Shopping campaigns, instead, you exclude the queries groups to then get some insights into each category and insights showing relation between users and your campaigns.

Products Group Segmentation – this tactic is for all accounts that upload their product feed into one Product Group. There is a huge amount of useful performance data that is not easy to discover, unless the feed in campaign is segmented into logical sub-divisions.

There are a few options of categories to choose from: By brand. Product ID, Product Category and a few more.

Once you have your Product Groups with sub-divisions ready, you will be able to see which segments, or even single products drive the most sales. You will also be able to add suitable bid adjustments at a very granular level.

Potential Benefits:

Set and forget is never a good move and by applying any of the 2 tactics outlined above, you immediately make better budget decisions and get detailed insights right from your Standard Shopping ads dashboard.

Important Notes to Consider:

Standard Shopping campaigns can be tweaked and tested in other ways. You may want to use Segmentation by location, or make your shopping campaign – a remarketing campaign. The list doesn’t stop there.

SAT Strategy: Stop And Turn

This strategy is called Stop and Turn as you will need to pause or make considerable changes in your existing campaigns.

Best For:

Stop and Turn Strategy will work for accounts that use Smart Shopping campaigns, but with little to no success. If you find it impossible to see results in this campaign type, perhaps you are letting Google automation to decide on everything, bidding, impression share, audience? Here’s a few things to consider.

Key Tactics:

On paper, Smart Shopping campaigns are great. These use advanced machine learning technology called Google algorithms to analyse many signals in real time to determine how likely a user is going to convert /or not. They then either serve the ad / or not.

But, AI requires one thing to work: DATA. And it’s not just data, it has to be large volumes of accurate, converting data.

In other words, if your Google Ads account is new you will need to consider other campaigns before going all in with Smart Campaign.

Tactics for Small Retailers 

  • Pause Your Smart Campaign (temporarily)
  • If you make a 100 sales a month or less, focus on optimising your product feed first.
  • Optimise Titles, Images, Price and Product Category in your product data feed
  • Place the most relevant search queries in Your Product Titles (aim to use 80-100{8e70974195c48f015656ec00029c2bf559b83ca472845d96d7b604466648386d} of title character limit – up to 150 characters )
  • Make sure you are building your remarketing lists audiences (as Smart Shopping uses your audiences lists as one of the insight to set bids
  • Opt in for Google Promotions in Google Merchant Centre – then be sure to use Promotion Feed to advertise your Offer (Free Shipping works!)
  • Restart Your Smart Campaign after submitting and uploading your new and fully optimised data feed

Tactics for Medium to Large Retailers (with large budgets)

  • Pause your Smart Shopping Campaign (temporarily)
  • If your sales are 200+ each month, look at your historical data and subdivide your products into Top Sellers; Medium Performers and Improvers (like New Products)
  • Work out your current ROI for each of the categories
  • Now create 3 separate Smart campaigns and give each Product Category its own target ROAS based on your ROI calculations for each category
  • Aim to commit about 30{8e70974195c48f015656ec00029c2bf559b83ca472845d96d7b604466648386d} of your budget to your Top Sellers category, 60{8e70974195c48f015656ec00029c2bf559b83ca472845d96d7b604466648386d} of budget to Medium performers and remaining 10{8e70974195c48f015656ec00029c2bf559b83ca472845d96d7b604466648386d} to New Products

Potential Benefits:

If executed right, Stop and Turn Strategy for smart campaigns can really make your account record improved numbers across all your KPIs.

The benefits could include:

  • effective use of Google’s machine learning technology
  • even more valuable insights as campaigns stay active
  • informed decisions for future marketing spend

Important Notes to Consider:

It is worth mentioning here that Smart Shopping runs shopping ads on many networks (not just search network). Other networks are:

  • Google Search Partners
  • YouTube
  • Gmail
  • Google Discover on the Display Network

This is important to know as this impacts your CPC, conversions and ROI.

Consider changing to Standard Shopping if your returns on the display network are generally low.

Another thing to consider before activating your Smart Shopping campaign is that you will not get a separate data of how each network performed.

Additionally, there will always be a learning period after each optimisation, which usually lasts about 14 days, so patience is the key.

MAM Strategy: Mix And Match

Best For:

This strategy is best suited to accounts that wish to make the most of both worlds: Standard Shopping and Smart Shopping. It will appeal to medium to large retailers with healthy budgets and dedicated account managers.

Key Tactics:

  • No 1. Run Standard Google Shopping Ads for most of your regular categories and Smart Shopping Ads only for one of your top performing categories
  • No 2. Use Smart Shopping as your cross-sell and up-sell Remarketing campaign

No 1. – The tactic No 1. makes sense to many advertisers because with top performers, there is also a ROAS worked out that the given category delivered in the past This takes guessing out of the equation when it comes to deciding on Target ROAS percentage for a new Smart Shopping Campaign. Try to set your tROAS slightly higher than your known figure. May result in even more sales than before but don’t hesitate to relax the target a bit if campaign stalls, at least in the first month.

No 2. – As you may already be aware, you cannot add a remarketing audience to a smart Shopping campaign because it is already used automatically. Google algorithms collect data directly from the audience manager to then distribute ads across different placements that your audiences visit. So to transform your smart campaign into an up-sell remarketing campaign, you simply need to choose which products (usually new releases) to run via a smart campaign.

Keep in mind that this tactic will work best if all other display (including YouTube and Gmail) campaigns are paused.

Potential Benefits:

You may discover that you have product categories in your inventory that perform better when advertised via Smart Shopping campaign. Others will be better managed with standard type. You wouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of multiplied positive ROI if you only stick to one campaign type.

Important Notes to Consider:

Make sure you always promote different products in Smart and Standard Shopping campaigns as Smart campaigns will always take priority over Standard campaigns.This will affect the performance of regular shopping ads.

Moreover, this is not exactly true that smart shopping campaigns require very little to no time at all from the marketing manager. These still need a lot of attention and strategic refining in order to deliver sales growth.


With the six Google shopping ads tactics and three strategies listed above, we hope that you got inspired to try some of them in your account. If your campaigns are underperforming, any change of tactics will probably bring a positive outcome.

If you need some assistance in helping you to set up, optimise or manage your Google Shopping Campaigns, let us know via email or a web form below today.

You may also be interested in:

PPC Remarketing via Facebook and Google

App Marketing Google Ads

Google Search Campaigns 


Minty Digital Team
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