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How to Make the Most of Mobile Traffic in Google Shopping

Steve Tutelman

E-commerce pros often ask me about optimizing Google Shopping campaigns for mobile traffic. And my answer, invariably, is: It’s complicated.

Don’t get me wrong, optimizing Google Shopping for mobile is a must for every retailer using the channel. But each product’s performance differs on desktop and mobile, so truly maximizing mobile spend means more than simply setting a few mobile bid adjustments and calling it a day.

In part two of our three-part Google Partners video series, Google’s Jacob Mader and I explore the topic of mobile Google Shopping campaigns. Give it a watch to learn why a granular approach to Google Shopping mobile optimization is critical for strong ROI.

And in case you missed them, check out the other videos in our series covering Google Shopping campaign structure and how to capture the most valuable Google Shopping queries.

1:10 What challenges are e-commerce marketers facing when it comes to advertising their products on mobile devices?

2:46 What do marketers need to adjust in their Google Shopping campaigns to better capture mobile traffic?

4:47 Why isn’t Google’s mobile bid adjustment the best way to capture mobile traffic?

5:59 How does Sidecar’s technology segment mobile traffic into its own Google Shopping campaign?

6:30 What is campaign priority in Google Shopping?

7:12 Why is it important for e-commerce marketers to pay more attention to mobile today?

Transcript

Jacob Mader: Hey, everyone. My name is Jacob Mader, and I’m an Agency Development Manager out of our New York City office. Today, you’re joining us for part two of our three-part series on [Google] Shopping optimization techniques.

In particular, we’re going to cover Sidecar’s unique approach to mobile management, and how to leverage the tools that Google offers to get more granular with Shopping traffic.

Now, for those who didn’t tune in to the first episode, Steve, if you’d like to introduce yourself and share a little bit about your company Sidecar, it’d be helpful.

Steve Tutelman: Sure. I’m Steve Tutelman, I’m the Chief Operating Officer at Sidecar, and Sidecar is an e-commerce marketing technology that leverages machine learning to solve the data-intensive and complex problems of matching people to the products they’re searching for in paid marketing channels.

With all of our clients and all the people that we’re talking to, mobile is a constant hot topic. It’s at the top of the list. And there are quite a few challenges that come with it.

JM: Great. Now, Steve, mobile right now, it’s an incredibly hot topic. As many of us know here at Google, at your agency, and in the audience, mobile dominated holidays in 2015. Now, what are some of the challenges that are still posed to retailers from this point forward?

ST: So with all of our clients and all the people that we’re talking to, mobile is a constant hot topic. It’s at the top of the list. And there are quite a few challenges that come with it. The first is certainly conversion rate: Mobile traffic has very different conversion rates than desktop traffic.

And I think part of that [challenge] is also centered around the role that mobile plays in the consumer search funnel.

As you’re buying products or navigating your life, you figure out when you want to search on a phone and when you want to use a desktop. Sometimes, mobile might play the introducer role and be the first point of contact. For example, let’s say I drive by a store and I see something in the window and I go and search it on my phone.

Other times, [mobile] might be more middle of the funnel. Say I was at my office and I was looking for a particular T-shirt, didn’t find what I was looking for, got in a cab and continued my search.

And other times it might be the last touch. I went into the store, I know what I want, I just didn’t get a chance to buy it yet, and I go on my phone, search with Google Shopping, and click through to make that purchase.

Sometimes, mobile might play the introducer role and be the first point of contact … Other times, [mobile] might be more middle of the funnel … And other times it might be the last touch.

I think that retail has struggled to understand what role mobile plays in that entire funnel, and how they should look at return on investment and the ad spend investment that they make in order to capitalize on the channel.

JM: That’s a good analysis of the lay of the land, and much of that resonates with me and how I use my mobile phone, and I imagine with the viewers in the audience, as well. Now, thinking more specifically to Google Shopping, how does mobile apply and, in particular, what are some of the levers that I, as a retailer, could pull to enhance my mobile AdWords experience?

ST: Sure. So, as I think we all know, traffic for Google Shopping is segmented into two big buckets. Desktop and tablet are together. By the way, if you could separate those for us, that would be great …  And mobile is separate.

So any traffic coming from a mobile device, you can bid on differently. Google lets you do that through a mobile bid adjustment. So you have your campaign structure, which always starts at the top with the campaign, and then an ad group, and then your product groups underneath.

The only way to really tackle that [mobile] challenge is to have a very, very complex campaign and ad group structure that would be nearly impossible to manage.

A lot of times, retailers are setting one mobile bid adjustment at the ad-group level when they just have one campaign and one ad group, because it’s sort of the easiest way to manage things. And that one adjustment can be anywhere from down 90% — 90% less than you’re willing to pay for a desktop or tablet bid — all the way up to up 300%.

Or, you can turn it off completely and go down 100%.

So if you have a dollar bid on a product group in desktop/tablet, and you set your mobile bid adjustment at -50%, then the mobile bid is going to be 50 cents. But that adjustment is made to every single product group within that ad group.

If your product groups are built where you’ve got your Nike running shoes, Reebok running shoes, ASICS running shoes, and your T-shirts all in different groups and you bid down 50%, it’s going to adjust each one of those [product groups] down by the same percentage. This is one of the challenges.

So the only way to really tackle that challenge is to have a very, very complex campaign and ad group structure that would be nearly impossible to manage.

JM: Yeah, so that’s very helpful. I think for the viewers in the audience, you put it well. Mobile bid adjustment can be controlled by the advertiser or the agency. If it’s down 50% and our bid’s a dollar, that means that it’s now 50 cents.

You also mentioned there can be some strategies around using that mobile bid adjustment. So where do you see some shortcomings from advertisers who may not be using that mobile bid adjustment as effectively as you’ve seen used at your agency?

ST: So I think the biggest challenge is that adjustment is always treated sort of in aggregate. So most retailers that we see have just a handful of campaigns, with all of their product groups underneath. And a lot of times, you might only have one campaign, so all of your product groups are getting adjusted by that same negative percentage.

Sidecar’s technology segments traffic into two different campaigns. And by assigning a negative 100% — or “off” — adjustment to the desktop campaign, all of the traffic would move over to the mobile campaign.

But in reality, those T-shirts that you sell are more of an impulse purchase, right? Maybe they’re $20, and when you’re on the go, you click an ad and you’re more likely to buy that on your phone because it’s a quick buy.

And then if you’re looking at a $300 pair of running shoes that you’re thinking about buying for the next year for your gym workout, you might want to think a little bit more heavily about that.

So despite the fact that their bids might be different — maybe the running shoes, you bid $2 and the T-shirts you bid $1 — in the mobile bid adjustment world, if you were to submit a mobile bid adjustment in that ad group of -50%, each one of those product groups would get adjusted down by that same amount.

Really, you might have wanted to bid up the T-shirts and bid down the running shoes. And again, without a very, very complex campaign structure — which would be impossible to manage — there are very few, if any, workarounds for that.

We’ve come up with one, which I’d love to tell you a little bit about.

JM: Yeah. Sure, go ahead.

ST: So essentially Sidecar’s technology segments traffic into two different campaigns. You have your desktop campaign, and then your mobile campaign. And by assigning a negative 100% — or “off” — adjustment to the desktop campaign, all of the traffic would move over to the mobile campaign.

Setting that campaign with a lower priority than the desktop campaign means that all that mobile traffic is going to funnel into that mobile campaign.

Jacob: Can you share a little bit about campaign priority for some of the viewers who may not be familiar?

ST: Sure, absolutely. Within each Google Shopping campaign there’s a setting called campaign priority — high, medium and low. And it lets you give Google a priority as to which bid you’d like to reflect for that particular product or set up traffic that you’re targeting.

If you don’t segment [mobile traffic] and it’s performing worse than desktop — which in almost all cases it is — you’re not allocating spend across all the different device types and product groups and segments of traffic as efficiently as possible.

And so if you set that campaign priority to high for the desktop campaign, and medium or low for the mobile campaign, you would funnel all mobile traffic to the mobile campaign — as long as you have the negative 100% bid adjustment on that desktop campaign.

JM: That makes sense. I guess just in summary, it would be helpful to know why do you think mobile management is so important for clients today?

ST: Sure. It’s a growing channel: The number of people searching for things on their mobile phones is just continuing to grow each year. And it’s a critically important channel in that funnel that we were talking about.

Whether it’s the first time somebody is going to see one of your products through Google Shopping, a middle touchpoint, or the last-click converter, you can miss the sale if you miss any one of those touch points through that funnel.

And it’s so important to Google Shopping because if you’re treating everything in aggregate with that bid adjustment, any time you make a desktop bid adjustment, it affects the mobile traffic, as well.

[Mobile] is a growing channel: The number of people searching for things on their mobile phones is just continuing to grow each year. And it’s a critically important channel in that funnel that we were talking about.

So if you don’t segment [mobile traffic] and it’s performing worse than desktop — which in almost all cases it is — you’re not allocating spend across all the different device types and product groups and segments of traffic as efficiently as possible. So you end up missing out on some of the desktop opportunity and also wasting money on the mobile opportunity.

Our technology allows you to manage desktop and mobile separately, meaning that bids can be adjusted for mobile at the product group level, regardless of the mobile bid adjustment. [Mobile bid adjustment] sort of doesn’t need to be used anymore, and that’s a big advantage for being able to bid more on T-shirts on mobile and less on $300 running shoes.

The goal of Sidecar’s technology is to allocate budget efficiently throughout all aspects of the campaign from different product groups, to different sets of traffic, to different device types.

JM: That makes quite a bit of sense, and I can imagine if I’m a client looking at a potential [Google] Shopping agency, what’s very important for me and my catalog is customization. And it seems like what you all are doing quite a bit as an agency is not only customizing the feed management, but customizing the device bid management to best suit the revenue model of your client.

ST: Yes, absolutely. The goal of Sidecar’s technology is to allocate budget efficiently throughout all aspects of the campaign from different product groups, to different sets of traffic, to different device types, so that we can maximize the revenue of the channel, while still hitting the return goal that’s set by the retailer.

JM: Well, thank you, Steve. This was incredibly helpful. And for you in the audience, I hope that you better understand how you can leverage your mobile bids to drive return within your [Google] Shopping campaigns, and potentially consider Sidecar for some of their customized solutions.

I’d love for you all to tune in to part three, where we discuss managing your budget through search query allocation.

All right, Steve. Fantastic as always.

ST: Thanks for having me.

JM: Thank you very much, and look forward to having you on part three shortly.

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