3 Ways to Cost-Effectively Drive Up Impressions in Shopping Campaigns

Feb 04, 2019

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Shopping campaigns in either Google or Bing (or both) are now a staple for any ecommerce business’s digital marketing strategy. Shopping ads themselves can be a consistently reliable source for highly targeted traffic to one’s online store – traffic that not only has a high conversion probability but is also relatively less expensive to acquire than other types of campaigns like Text Ads.

The hard truth though: there’s a lot of competition out there all vying for the very same, invaluable digital shelf space.

As a result, many retailers and advertisers are faced with trends of lower impressions (views on ads) and thus a lower impression share.

However, with the right strategy, you can tackle these trends head-on and start taking back lost ad positions to get your impressions back on top.

Here’s three strategies you can implement now to boost Impressions and Impression Share.

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Optimize Your Campaign Structure

Retailers and advertisers with moderate to large catalogs often segment SKUs together into like groups such as lumping specific brands together in their own product groups.

This compartmentalized approach to structuring Shopping campaigns often brings about a phenomenon I have come to call Impression Crowding.

Impression Crowding happens when you group too many products together in their own segment and set the same broad Max CPC bid for each SKU in that group.

With each product now having the same exact bid, they all begin basically “fighting” with each other for a share of the potential impressions.

So, products that may be far more deserving of the impressions don’t get the much-needed impression share they need because other products (we call them Impression Eaters) are essentially “crowding them out”.

Ultimately, the trouble with all of this resides in your inability to set product-specific bids since a compartmentalized structure lacks any granularity.

Solution:

Review your existing Shopping campaign(s) for inefficient, overly-grouped structures and begin breaking down groups (subdivision) to the individual product level. Once you have achieved that granularity you gain the benefits of both bidding and analysis at the product level.

Use simple filters in Google or Bing Ads to find your low to zero impression products. You can then begin increasing bids for specific products with lower than desired impression/impression share levels. Only increase bids a few cents at a time (no more than .10). Then, analyze product ad behavior over a few days to see if the increase has brought about any change in impressions.

Continue to increase bids nominally until you note an improvement in visibility.

On products that you don’t necessarily want getting impressions (low margin products for example), consider lowering those bids or even excluding the products entirely from being advertised.

Perform a Product/Feed Health Check

I would have put this first because it is the ultimate low hanging fruit when diagnosing for low or zero impressions.

However, now that you have that granular structure, you’re in a better state to analyze the exact products being affected.

Secondary to that should immediately be about checking in on Merchant Center to find products that cannot display at all due to disapprovals or stock status.

In Shopping campaigns, any product that is disapproved or out of stock is not eligible for display anyway. There is a good chance that many of your zero impression products are actually due to either of these statuses.

Solution:

Log into Merchant Center and review your feed stats, specifically looking for disapproved and out of stock products.

Focus first on products disapproved due to common feed issues such as missing attributes or even policy violations. Work backwards to find the source of the issue, resolve it, and then resend your feed to get a recrawl going and hopefully get those products approved.

Next, look into your out of stock items. If these are products you don’t plan on restocking, simply remove them from the feed.

Now, for anything that IS approved but still not getting that desired Impression Share – its time to begin optimizing Product Titles. Titles are the primary attribute that contributes to both ad relevance and ad delivery.

You want to build titles with a natural flow based on how consumers search today. You can follow archetype title structures that include the most valuable key terms such as:

[BRAND] + [PRODUCT NAME] + [COLOR] + [SIZE]

If you’re looking for more advanced approaches to Title and data optimization, check out these articles on feed optimization using search query data and writing powerful product descriptions.

Re-Balance Your Device Strategy

After achieving granularity in your Shopping campaigns, you will gain a profound control over your bidding and product analysis. You should now be able to easily filter for those low and zero impression trends and adapt a bidding strategy to try and get more eyes on those products.

However, that is just the start. One of the more common, underlying causes of low or poor impression stats lies in how you handled your device modifications: Computer, Mobile, Tablet.

Especially on Mobile (where shoppers spend most of their time perusing wares online), if you are forcing lower bids by using bid modifiers on then you could be missing out on valuable impressions.

One crucial note: don’t blindly start loosening up your bid modification restrictions. For this optimization you need to factor in other metrics such as ROAS (Conv. Value/Cost), but also note how one device performs versus another.

Solution:

Navigate to the Devices section in your ads account. Review your Bid Adjustment (bid modifier) for a particular device such as Mobile. Add other columns to your view including metrics such as CTR, ROAS, Conversion Value. Also, compare one device’s performance against another (such as Mobile vs Computers).

As you can see in the example above in Google Ads, Mobile and Computer perform nearly identically, however Mobile drives more conversions overall.

In such an example, consider cutting back a bit on your decrease modifier for that Mobile segment to try and get more impressions. Only adjust the modifier a little at a time, 10-15%. Analyze performance over time (3-7 days to start) and continue to adjust accordingly. You still need to avoid overspending and wasteful spending so if you note a dip in ROAS or Conv. Value coupled with higher Cost, throttle back once more to find that sweet spot.

Pro Tip - TV Screens are the latest device that your ads can display on in Google Shopping. We recommend bidding down -100% as right now this has been found to be a wasteful avenue since it’s so new of a potential ad position.

Anthony Capetola

Written by Anthony Capetola

Tony is the Marketing Manager at Sales & Orders heading up our inbound marketing and advertising team. His latest adventure, though? Being a dad!

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