Much has been written about the pros and cons of Google Shopping Campaigns, but are you missing out by not using the campaign priority setting? 

Since Google launched Shopping Ads in 2014, many articles have been written with tips and tricks for getting the most out of them.

However the campaign priority setting remains an often-overlooked feature and even when mentioned, its full potential is rarely appreciated.

To recap, different Shopping campaigns within an account can be set with high, low or medium priority. If two campaigns have overlapping product targets, then the highest priority campaign is eligible, regardless of the relative bids.

Google’s example use case is that you could thus have a subset of key products that you want to promote, such as items featured in a special sale, with a different bid to the default.

However, this example falls far short of illustrating the true power of campaign priorities, a power which is unlocked when priorities are combined with negative keywords.

Since Shopping Ad campaigns are keyword-less, you don’t have as much control over the traffic as you do in other paid search campaigns, other than the fact that negative keywords can be used to block irrelevant terms.

Using the method I‘m about to explain, this needn’t be the case anymore.

Segmenting own-brand and generic searches

To illustrate, here’s an example of how you’d segment your own-brand traffic into a distinct campaign: create two campaigns, both targeting the entire feed, with whatever ad group structure you like, and set up as below.

Segmenting brand and generic search

It may seem counterintuitive to have the brand campaign to be the lower priority one, since chances are that’s the one that’s going to have the better conversion rate, but this is where the ‘priority + negative’ power comes in.

Since it’s higher priority, traffic will go by default to the generic campaign, unless the search term contains the brand name, in which case that campaign is no longer eligible (due to the broad negative keyword), so it is forced into the brand campaign instead. 

And with that, you have successfully segmented your Shopping campaign by brand vs. generic traffic:

Brand vs. Generic Traffic

You’d probably want a higher bid in the brand campaign to reflect the better conversion rate, but that’s largely academic. The segmentation works regardless of which campaign has the higher bid. Alternatively you could even set bids in one of the campaigns to £0.01, effectively limiting future traffic to either brand-only, or generic-only, should that be your intended strategy.

Two caveats:

  • Misspellings of your brand name will still go to the generic version of the campaign unless they are also negated.
  • If the generic campaign hits its budget limit, then all traffic would default to the brand campaign, which would then be the de facto highest eligible campaign. Avoid this situation by using a shared budget across the two campaigns. 

Segmenting product-brand and generic searches

Taking this a step further, you could easily filter all searches containing references to product brands (eg. Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc) into a separate campaign. 

The setup for this would be exactly the same as in the simpler example above, except the ’Brands’ campaign would need to feature a much longer list of negative keywords (and don’t forget the misspellings: ‘addidas’, ‘adiddas’, etc.)

Brand negative keywords

Search terms such as ‘Adidas shoes’ or ‘Nike trainers’ would then fall into the ‘Product Brands’ campaign, while the ‘Generic Terms’ campaign would pick up such terms as ‘men's trainers’, ‘football boots’, etc.

Segmenting product-specific searches

But why stop there? The benefit of the segmentation in the example above is that you’d expect people searching for particular brands to be further down the purchase funnel and thus more likely to convert.

Going one step further again, we can use all three levels of priority to split out product-specific searches (likely to have the best conversion rates of all) into a third campaign. 

This setup would be more complicated, with the generic campaign being the highest priority, and the product-specific the lowest, while negative keywords need to be ‘stacked’, with product-specific terms as negatives in the brand campaign, and both product-specific and brand negative keywords in the generic campaign:

Product and brand negative keywords

Summary

So where should you start? While perhaps counter-intuitive at first, Shopping Campaign structures such as those featured above are very easy to set up, so I would recommend at least that the basic own-brand segmentation be adopted as standard best practice, just as you’d never include both brand and generic terms within the same keyword-based campaign. 

If there are other possible campaign segmentation ideas that arise from the use of campaign priorities, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Pete Whitmarsh

Published 19 June, 2015 by Pete Whitmarsh

Pete Whitmarsh is Head of PPC at Search Laboratory and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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