Get in touch with our team
Feature image for 15.06.2018


5 min read

SearchLeeds 2018: Getting Started With PLAs – Hannah McKie

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Google Shopping is one of the fastest-growing trends in paid search, and as more advertisers begin to catch on the space is becoming increasingly competitive – often intimidatingly so. Hannah McKie, PLA Manager at fast-fashion brand Missguided introduced us to the idea that winning at PLAs – or Google Shopping ads, as we also know them – can be possible for advertisers of all sizes, whether you’re looking to advertise 20 products or 500,000.

Hannah outlined three key areas of a healthy shopping campaign: product disapprovals, feed hygiene and campaign strategy. Ensuring you’ve got no key products disapproved in Google Merchant Centre, your product data feed is up to scratch both for Google and users, and you’ve got an effective PLA strategy in place are all crucial to Google Shopping success.

Anyone who’s initiated a Google Shopping campaign set up will have surely come up against Google’s product data feed requirements just in order to get visibility in the PLA space. However, Hannah also mentioned what she called the “silent but deadly” elements of a shopping feed that are required to make the most of the PLA visibility you’re getting.


Make Use Of Custom Labels

When used effectively, custom labels can become to unsung heroes of your Google Shopping campaigns. Hannah revealed how Missguided use them to inform their campaign structure, feeding in contextual business information on products’ profit margins, bestseller status or seasonality to allow account managers to optimise products based on this data. You can apply up to five custom labels to your campaigns at any one time, and although this might sound like plenty the available slots can quickly become filled, so choose wisely and prioritise the business data that’s most important and useful to you.


Google Product Taxonomy + Product Types = Success

Google’s own Product Category attribute is an essential element of every data feed, but these can’t be edited and for most products often don’t get granular enough for our campaign needs. By including the optional product_type attribute, advertisers are able to feed in additional product information that is recognised by Google. Hannah suggested that this method can be used to include much more specific product detail (for example ‘Dresses > Midi Dresses’ instead of simply ‘Dresses’) or including anything that you can’t fit into the ever-precious product title characters. Hannah also revealed that to complement Missguided’s official partnership with the 2018 series of popular reality TV show Love Island, they were able to append ‘Love Island’ keywords into the product type attributes of the products fans have seen the Love Island cast wearing on the show to give extra visibility to their PLAs.


Product Titles

It’s an old trick in the book, but product title optimisation is still one of the most doable and effective ways to improve PLA CTR. Hannah suggested aiming for product titles under 70 characters, and making use of the character limitations by optimising product titles to be keyword-rich and super relevant. She also recommended ensuring that the main product information, like the product type or brand, is included at the start of the product title, and optimising towards what your potential customers are actually searching for. Examples Hannah gave of this are removing any unnecessary, low search volume details like female names that are commonly appended to the titles of fast fashion products, or altering the colour names to better match search queries – ie. ‘yellow’ rather than ‘lemon’.


PLAs & Keywords

Yes, you really can bid on keywords in shopping campaigns. By default, Google will match a users’ search query to the title of a product in your shopping feed, but by collecting enough query-level data advertisers will gain a better understanding of user intent and the kinds of searches that lead to a higher intent. Hannah explained how, at Missguided, they came to realise that colour-based searches like “black skinny jeans”generated a higher ROAS than their generic counterpart “skinny jeans”. By directing these colour-based searches into their own separate campaigns filtered through by adding colour keywords as negatives elsewhere, Missguided were able to bid more competitively on queries that displayed higher user intent and were more likely to lead to better performance. Here at Impression, we implemented a similar strategy in our PLA campaigns for our own fast-fashion client WearAll, using an n-gram analysis script to find high-performance query strings and filter these  into separate campaigns. You can read more about what we did and the results we achieved for WearAll in our case study here.


Pick Your A-Team

It might seem like a good PLA strategy to simply push your bestselling products via your shopping campaigns, but if these products are selling well through other channels like organic or paid social then is it really the best use of AdWords budget to do so? Hannah argued that it’s not, especially when you have thousands of product SKUs at your disposal. Instead of bidding hard on your bestsellers, she suggested prioritising products with the highest margin products that lead to quicker-win ROAS or high stock levels across a range of colours and sizes that are more likely to have a higher on-site conversion rate. Hannah stressed that it’s important to keep refreshing this strategy too as stock levels will fluctuate and seasonal trends change quickly in the fast-fashion industry.


The key messages to take away from Hannah’s talk were to get acquainted with your product data feed, as this is where you’ll drive the performance of your PLA campaign, and the importance of testing: Hannah encouraged a “think, test, review, repeat” method that’s familiar to advertisers. What works one year might not work the next, and the strategy that’s been successful in one shopping campaign might not work so well for another – keeping things fresh and constantly evolving your strategy is key to PLA success.