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How to Build Top Performers Google Shopping Campaigns in AdWords

By Tony Capetola on September, 18 2017

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Tony Capetola

Tony is the VP of Marketing here at Sales & Orders, along with heading up the inbound and customer marketing teams, Tony also oversees partnerships and branding for our award-winning company and platform.

Once again, we are approaching Q4 and most retailers have (or should have) implemented some type of optimization for their Google Shopping campaigns.

This could have been something as simple as cleaning up their wasted ad spend with some well-applied filters.

Other retailers may have gone in a more complex direction, solving for very specific negative keyword implementations.

Bottom line? If you haven’t done anything yet then now is the time to do it!

One of (if not the easiest) ways to optimize your Google Shopping campaigns for the crucial holiday selling period is by building out top performers strategies.

Even if you aren’t that familiar with AdWords, here’s our simple-to-follow recipe for an excellent Top Performers Google Shopping campaign.

Finding Top Performing Products in AdWords

First, we need to find exactly which products are “top performers.” If you were to only use AdWords for this, the best metric to filter on would be conversions.

A few things to note:

  • I would venture to guess that most reading this don’t have campaigns broken down purely by ID. This means that you won’t necessarily be able to find your top performers at the product group level.
  • You’ll want to use as much history as possible. This could mean different things for different retailers but a good start would be All time in AdWords.

Pro Tip: So, if your campaigns aren’t broken down to the ID-level you could use this methodology for determining top performing groups instead. This works well for retailers who have campaigns broken out by Brand, Category, or Product Type. Just make sure you further subdivide the first grouping by ID so it’ll be as granular as possible.

How to start:

  • Set your date range to ‘All time’ or your own desired range (this year thus far for example)
  • Click on the Shopping campaign in AdWords you wish to extract your top performers from. This is usually your ‘primary’ campaign or the one you run most, if not all, of your ad spend through.
  • Using the tabs at the top of the view, select ‘Dimensions’
  • Now select ‘View’ > ‘Shopping’ > ‘Item ID’
  • Apply a Filter for ‘Conversions > 1’

Your AdWords should now look something like this:

top performers google shopping dimensions.png

Pro Tip: A nifty trick for determining your top performers by profitability is to factor in your margin (average or actual) and match this to how high your ROAS needs to be to remain profitable. With this you can further weed out products with lower ROAS since even if they did convert, they did not convert profitably. A low, positive ROAS is not necessarily and indicator of true performance.

For now, let’s just say it’s a perfect world and that anything with conversions can be considered Top Performers.

What do you do with them?

Use the export function in AdWords to download a .CSV file. We’ll be using this later (but only the IDs). I recommend exporting other metrics as well though:

  • Clicks, Impressions, CTR, Conversions, Cost/Conv., Conv. Rate, Total Conversion Value (revenue), Conv. Value/Cost (ROAS), Average CPC

Build A New Campaign, Carefully

Experienced AdWords users may be able to speed things along with AdWords Editor. Even then though, my favorite way to do this is still directly in the AdWords UI.

Now, with your top performing products, you can build the campaign that will house them:

  • From the campaigns view in AdWords, click on ‘+CAMPAIGN’ and then select Shopping

You should be familiar with campaign settings by now, but there’s one you need to prioritize when building the ‘Top Performers’ campaign:

  • Campaign Priority: You must set a campaign priority for your Top Performer campaign higher than that of the primary campaign. You want this campaign to exhaust its budget before any other as it relates to displaying only top performers.

As best practices, you should also determine and apply a unique budget for the top performer campaign and make sure you are using accelerated delivery method.

Once you are all set, click ‘Save and continue’ to move onto ad group setup:

ad group top performer google shopping.png

  • Name your ad group
  • Select ‘Start with one product group with a single bid for all products’
  • Click ‘Save and continue’

Subdivide the Default Product Group

You should now have 1 ad group, with a single product group, with all products. Now we have to subdivide but only for your top performing products:

  • Use the ‘+’ icon to open the subdivision menu
  • Select ‘Item ID’ from the dropdown


  • Select 'bulk add values manually'
  • Copy your ID’s from the .CSV file we exported earlier
  • Paste them into the field
  • Click ‘Add values’
  • Finish up by clicking Save


IMPORTANT STEP: Once your campaign is subdivided, locate the 'Everything else in All products' product group. Click on your Max CPC bid and choose Exclude. This will stop every other product from displaying EXCEPT those IDs you selected.

You’re Done (kind of)!

It took a bit of effort but you did it. You now have your Top Performers Google Shopping Campaign.

You are off to a great start.

Don’t forget though (just a couple to note):

  • Adjust your individual bids on IDs. To be completely honest, there is no “easy” way to do this. However, one approach would be to use the average CPC exported earlier to set unique bids for each product based on historical performance. Another way would be to use AdWords Editor or AdWords Bulk Operations to change the bids “en masse.”
  • Ensure your ad settings such as location targeting, ad schedule, and bid adjustments are carried over from any existing campaigns. You can do this in either AdWords or AdWords Editor.

IF, and only if, your primary campaign was broken down by ID, you can go a bit further by excluding the top performing IDs from the primary. This will make sure that these products are only displayed by the top performers campaign.

For ongoing management, revisit the process of determining your top performers from a primary campaign at least every 30 days.

Any new, standout IDs can be continued to be extracted and put into the top performers campaign via a tool like AdWords Editor.

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