6 Ways to Cut Wasted Ad Spend in Google Shopping

Oct 05, 2017

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There are few things more frustrating than preventable waste, especially when it comes to advertising budgets.

This notion rings especially true in the realm of Google Shopping. It’s easy to lose track of a campaign and have things spiral out, but it’s just as easy to make these quick adjustments that will help you prevent wasted ad spend.

Use Filters to Single Out Overspending Products

This is one of those “low hanging fruit” suggestions, but is something that cannot be ignored.

It’s a very easy fix, and should be a part of your regular Google Shopping campaign maintenance.

Here’s how to go about doing this:

  1. Click into the campaign you want to work on. This will reveal the ad groups.
  2. Click into the ad group that needs work. This will bring you to your product groups.
  3. Create a filter for products with conversions less than 1.Filter.png
  4. Click on the “cost” column and sort from high to low. (Tip: clicking once will sort from high to low, clicking twice will sort from low to high)

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Now that you have your list of non-converting product groups sorted, you can determine which products are overspending.

As shown in the above photo, the top 7 products on this list spent $166.19 without making a single sale.

This is certainly a waste of ad spend, and can even help diagnose issues by performing a few quick steps.

The easiest thing to do would be to lower the bids on these products by your desired amount, whether it be a percentage or by a dollar/cent amount.

It doesn’t have to be that simple, and this could potentially uncover an underlying problem on your website, feed or with your pricing.

As you can see in the above figure, 6 of the 7 products have over a 1% click-through-rate, which means people are interested, but not buying for some reason.

  • Do some deeper digging into product landing pages to look for any user experience issues.
  • Check your feed to make sure your product titles are relevant to the product itself.
  • Do a search in Google Shopping to see if you’re competitively priced.

If any of these are the case, you could potentially open the window to future conversions. If not, lowering the bids and trimming the excess ad spend will be just as helpful.

Utilize Device Bid Modifiers

Another simple, yet easily overlooked method of cutting wasted ad spend on your Google Shopping campaign is to adjust bids by device.

A tremendously useful feature within Google AdWords is the ability to view significant data across the three main platforms of web traffic:

  1. Desktop computers
  2. Mobile Devices with browsers
  3. Tablets with browsers

Using this feature, you can utilize key data points to shift your budget around so that if efficiently is divided between these platforms.

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In the above example, there are no device bid modifiers in place when there most certainly should.

As you can see, this e-commerce store spent over $3,000 between mobile and tablet, and even though a fair amount of conversions were made, the return on that ad spend is barely profitable.

If you look in the column titled “Bid adj,” you can see 2 dashes. By clicking there, you bring up a screen where you can set a bid adjustment by percentage either to increase or decrease bids.

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By default, AdWords will present the Increase by option, but by clicking on the drop down you can choose to decrease bids.

In the example case, the client would benefit from setting bids to decrease. This would help to lower the wasted ad spend on those platforms and allocate more for computers, which is the most profitable of all the devices.

Creating Ad Schedules

An often-overlooked cause of wasted ad spend is clicks received in the “twilight” hours of the night. This typically can be considered as the hours between midnight and 6 or 7 am.

In many cases, people are browsing with no intention of purchasing between the aforementioned hours, and retailers wind up wasting a huge portion of their daily budget before prime purchasing hours.

Determining if this is the case for you only takes a couple of simple steps, and with the help of hour-of-day segmentation, you can make an informed decision.

    • When looking in your campaign, open the Segment drop down, go into the Time category, and select the Hour of Day option to access data.
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  • Review data to make determination on when to set ad schedules.

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In the above example, the client spent over $100 between the hours of midnight and 7 A.M. to make one sale for under $20.

This is a clear sign that you should create a schedule to decrease your bids during these times. This will help to shift more of your budget to prime selling hours while reducing the amount of money you spend during non-converting hours.

Building the ad schedule can be tricky, so here’s a quick step-by-step on how to do that:

  • Click into the campaign you want to apply the ad schedule to
  • Open the settings tab
  • Click the Ad Schedule option

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  • Click on the red “+Ad Schedule” button.

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  • Click into the “Create custom schedule” link to begin building your schedule.
  • For this example, we want the ad schedule to be negative from 12 am-7am and regular the rest of the day, so the schedule should look like the below figure:

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Be aware that if you don’t have the entire day scheduled out, your ads will only show during the times you have added and will turn off the rest of the day.

It’s imperative to not only have the time you want to adjust bids during but also the rest of the day.

Once your ad schedule is built, you can set bid adjustments accordingly in the bid adjustments column.

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Add Over Spending Search Terms as Negative Keywords

There currently isn’t a way to big on specific keywords in Google Shopping campaigns like you can in Search campaigns.

However, you are still able to see search terms, and add negative keywords to your campaign in an effort to reverse-engineer your keyword targeting and also trim the wasted ad spend that comes from showing for very broad search terms.

To view your search terms report:

  • Click into the “Keywords” tab
  • Click into “Search Terms”

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From here, you can sort by cost and determine if you want to make a certain term a negative keyword.

PRO TIP: when looking at the search terms report set the date range to “All Time” so that you can see all data. Sometimes you may not be converting over the last week or month on a search term, but have previously made sales on it. This will help you to make the most informed decision possible.

Geo Targeting

While geo targeting can aid in growing your customer base in areas that your Google Shopping campaign performs well in, it can also be utilized to perform the opposite function.

If you can identify areas that you are overspending and not converting very well in, you can set a geo target on it and decrease your bids there to trim away some extra ad spend.

To locate these potentially overspending areas, you can employ the assistance of the User Location view within the “Dimensions” tab.

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From here, you can set your columns to show exactly which data points are important to making your bidding decisions, such as Conversion Value/Cost and overall Cost.

In the above example, the client may consider lowering bids in states such as Missouri, New Jersey and California since they are all not profitable.

To execute this plan:

  • Click into the campaign you want to implement geo targeting to
  • Go to the settings tab
  • Click on Locations
  • Click the red “+ Locations” button to begin adding targets

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Once you’ve added your location targets, you can use the bid adjustment column to make the desired changes.

Add RLSA Audiences to Your Google Shopping Campaign

If you’re looking for a way to spend your daily budget more efficiently, adding RLSA remarketing audiences to your Google Shopping campaigns can help.

These are audiences of people who have already expressed interest in your products by clicking through one of your ads, and are more likely to convert soon.

By adding these groups of people to your campaign targeting, you take a more focused approach to how you spend your money.

Inevitably, RLSA audiences have a much higher click through rate and conversion rate, thus making them an extremely valuable addition to your Google Shopping Campaigns.

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Final Thoughts

Utilizing any combination of these strategies will help keep your Google Shopping ad spend under control.

The goal of any marketing effort is to maximize your returns, and with a few easy tweaks you can do just that.

Unfortunately, these aren’t “set it and forget it” type optimizations. They will require a fair amount of maintenance as you continue implementing different strategies.

However, the time spent will be well worth it as you watch your ROI grow over time.

Richard Aviles

Written by Richard Aviles

Inbound Marketing Specialist at Sales & Orders. All I need in life is my girlfriend, my dogs, my camera and a campfire. Water's cool too, I guess.