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Product Insights & Feed Rules for Google Shopping

PPC hubbub - Product Insights & Feed Rules
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Google are making it even easier for Merchants to get insights on their product inventory, as well as making it easier for us to manage this inventory. On Wednesday 6th April, Google announced that they would be giving advertisers more insight for Google Shopping campaigns via the Products and Product Group Tabs.

On the 27th April, Google also announced Merchant Centre Feed Rules, aimed at helping you submit your product data into the Google Shopping feed format.

Yaaay! Thanks Google, but what do you want in return?! We explore why Google are doing this and what this update means for you!

What’s Updated?

Google say that ‘12% of top-clicked products for all advertisers in 2016 are currently not being advertised because they are disapproved or out of stock’. Say What?! Let’s face it, feed management can be more challenging than a boxing match with Chuck Norris…I heard that Mike Tyson chipped a tooth on Chuck Norris’ ear.

More Product Insights

Google now give us access to Product Status and Effective Max CPC in the Products Tab.

An example of this can be found below;

PPC hubbub - Shopping Insights

As well as this, Google has also given us Inventory Status for Product Groups

This includes;

  • Products submitted: Total products in your linked Merchant Centre account
  • Products approved: Total of submitted products approved by Google
  • Products active: Approved products with a bid
  • Products ready to serve: Active products that are in stock
  • % approved: Percentage of approved from total submitted products
  • % active: Percentage of approved products with a bid
  • % ready to serve: Percentage of your total products eligible for auction

PPC hubbub - Shopping Insights

Useful eh?! There is more boring hubbub is available here.

Making Feed Management Easy with Feed Rules

As if we haven’t been spoiled enough, this week Google released that they are now rolling ‘Feed Rules’ out of BETA.

Feed Rules allows you to perform basic transformations of your existing product data, making it easier than ever to get your data feed up and running

This allows us to manage feeds in 2 ways;

1. Setup and Management of Feeds

  • Map Column Headers
  • Transform the values
  • Populate missing attribute

PPC hubbub - Shopping Insights

2. For campaign organisation and optimisation

  • Implement rules for custom labels
  • Tag products with a shipping label

What’s great is that once you specify new rules for your feed, all future uploads of this feed will be processed according to those rules.

So, why are Google being so kind?

Google has listened to merchant feedback and they recognise that Google Shopping setup, maintenance, management and optimisation can be a bit challenging at times. This could be limiting the amount of budget that some advertisers are able to allocate to the product. A definite ‘no no’ for Google.
Through these releases, what we can see Google doing this year for Google Shopping is increasing value for merchants by;

  1. Providing deeper insight in Adwords & the Merchant Centre – Quantified, Prioritised and Actionable Insight that will really help merchants and advertisers.
  2. Further simplify the management of Shopping Campaigns.

We believe that this will be 2 of the focus areas for Google Shopping product releases this year. A combination of which helps to drive much more effective campaigns and value for the advertiser, and increased investment in the product for Google’s pocket.

What does this mean for you?

Products Tab Insight

Let’s face it, advertisers have been screaming out for this level of product insight in Google Adwords for a long time now. Previously to see this level of data you would have had to download a report from Adwords, download the feed from the Merchant Centre, done some VLOOKUP’s in Excel and voila! This was annoying and very time consuming.

Now, you can see if your best performing products are ‘Ready to Serve’ or ‘Disapproved’. It’s such a simple change that can potentially save the advertiser so much time. As well as this, you can see the % of active products in a given Product Group which again is usually time consuming to see. This level of insight helps provide more context to your numbers.

For example, if you are used to seeing a product/product group performing well and then this deteriorates, then you can quickly see if the product status may have changed to ‘Disapproved’ and then act accordingly using the Merchant Centre.

The ‘Effective Max CPC’ allows you to see the maximum that you are bidding for the product. If you see a high number of sales coming through on a particular product, you may find that you will need to target this product more specifically and therefore ‘pull’ it out of a product group target. By clicking on the Effective Max CPC, you get directed to the product group in which the product is sitting so that you can easily segment and optimise your shopping campaign accordingly. Simple!

All of this insight in Adwords helps to provide further context to the performance, and this gives the advertiser confidence for further investment. For you, this helps to save time and makes optimisations and campaign management much more effective, therefore driving more value for you and your campaigns.

Feed Rules

For me, this is a biggie. This is a self-service tool to help you transform your existing data into a language that Google understands. Finally!

Ultimately, this makes Google Shopping much more accessible to everyone. Previously, it would have been quite difficult for some retailers to regularly generate in a format that Google can fully understand. What this allows is the regular upload of accurate feeds without a ‘middle man’. This is the perfect tool for smaller businesses that are looking to get their product inventory into Google Shopping. For a lot of merchants, regular feed uploads may have been a laborious task having to combat the ‘normalisation’ of the feed format or values. Now, you can set up rules which will do this for you.

Even for larger advertisers and agencies, this can be very useful. Feed rules can also be used to populate ‘Custom Labels’ to allow for more granular campaign structures. We can now easily populate custom labels in the feed such as ‘Best Seller’ or ‘Sale’ on an ongoing basis, allowing us to manage campaign performance much more effectively. Again, this drives further value for the advertiser whilst simplifying campaign and feed management.

This is only the first version of Feed Rules, and Google are actively looking to get merchants to feedback on the product so that they can continue to improve it. So get using and feedback in the merchant centre!


As mentioned, Google’s focus for Shopping Campaigns this year is helping to drive increased value for merchants and advertisers. These 2 updates (Products Tab Insights and Feed Rules) are a big step towards Google achieving their goal. If they do ultimately achieve this, this will help to continue the growth trend of the product. For us, this means that we save time and get deeper insight into performance and our product inventory which is very much welcomed.

The 2 updates discussed today have gone a long way to merge the gaps between the Merchant Centre and Adwords. Updates will only continue this year as Google look to ensure that they drive the much needed insight and simplified management that merchants need.

Dan Roberts
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