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24 July 2019 / Opinion

Segmenting Google Shopping campaigns by user intent

Robbie Decker / PPC Senior Analyst

Putting Shopping campaigns at the heart of a retailer’s paid search strategy is nothing new.

Shopping is an area of paid search that has experienced strong growth in recent years, bringing with it increased competition.

This makes it more important than ever to ensure that you’re getting the most from your Shopping campaigns, from feed setup to campaign structure, and everything in between.

How has Shopping evolved?

Take a look at Google Shopping’s first paid listings, back in 2012…

The same search throws up a very different looking Shopping listing now.

In this post, we’ll be looking at the specific ways in which you can segment your Shopping campaigns, by user intent, to maximise results.

Unlike search campaigns, where user intent can be gauged through keywords, Shopping is much less transparent so knowing how to optimise based on intent can be complicated.

However, it is possible to optimise Shopping campaigns to more appropriately serve each user, putting yourself in a much stronger position in comparison to your competition.

Here are our tips on different segmentation methods to allow you to gain better control over audience groups, enabling you to spend budget more efficiently and maximise ROI.

1. Make use of audiences

Audience lists provide a great way to segment current/potential customers into tighter groups, allowing you to tailor bids for each group, depending on their value.

Creating audience groups such as ‘Non-Converters’ / ‘Basket Abandoners’ / ‘Past Converters’ will allow you to measure the differences in performance of groups that we know will have varying levels of intent.

To go more in-depth, it’s now possible to make use of ‘Similar’ and ‘In-Market’ audiences.

In-market audiences are a relatively new feature (for both Google and Bing), providing the ability to adjust bid strategies for people who are actively looking for the products a particular brand has on offer.

It is likely that those ‘in-market’ for a product, will have greater intent to purchase than those deemed to be ‘in-market’ for those products.

Incorporating ‘Custom Audiences’ into a Shopping strategy will definitely enhance performance.

If you can make use of your CRM data, it’s possible to optimise your bid strategy for existing customers (who will have a strong intent to purchase from YOU, over competitors).

You can build very detailed audiences from your CRM data, e.g. how often certain customers purchase from you or what their AOV is.

You can then build ‘lookalike’ audiences based on these custom audiences, again providing you with greater control over potential new customers.

2. Brand vs non-brand split

If you receive a high number of brand-related searches, segmenting your Shopping campaigns by brand/non brand searches is highly recommended.

This makes it possible to bid more accurately for groups of products, depending on whether the user is loyal to your brand and therefore more likely to purchase.

Step by step instructions

  1. Duplicate each of your Shopping campaigns. Each version of the campaign(s) will feature the same products. However, the products in one campaign will only be triggered when a user makes a branded search
  2. Add all your brand keywords (and close variants) as ‘negative keywords’ (on phrase match), into each of the now ‘Non-Brand’ variation Shopping campaigns
  3. Run an SQR from your ‘search’ campaigns (select a large date range). Filter those search terms so that you’re only looking at non-branded searches. This list of search terms will be your list of negative keywords to be added to your ‘Brand’ Shopping campaigns (as exact match negatives), to help filter out generic queries.

3. Price-led Search Segmentation

If your product offering is vast and contains significant differences in price, then a price-based segmentation of Shopping campaigns could be a great way to more appropriately serve users, based on their intent.

We now live in a discount-driven world and words such as ‘cheap’ and ‘discount’ are frequently included in user’s product searches.

You can take a look at this for yourself by running searches for the products you’re advertising, including words such as ‘cheap’.

Are the products being served in the results the most appropriate ones from your range? If not, this is probably a tactic worth implementing.

Unlike the ‘Brand vs Non Brand’ segmentation, this method doesn’t require duplication of campaigns. Instead, you create ad group variations to break up higher and lower priced products, within a campaign.

For example, if you were running Shopping campaigns for a clothing company, you might have a campaign for trainers. Within this campaign, you might have an ad group for each brand of trainer.

By creating a second ad group for each brand of trainer, you’ll be able to split the cheaper products from each brand, into one of the ad groups, whilst the more expensive trainers can be placed into the other ad group.

In your product feed, you can populate a ‘Custom Label’ field with ‘cheap’ or ‘expensive’ for each trainer.

This will allow you to create a product group containing all the cheaper Nike trainers within a ‘Nike Trainers - Cheap’ ad group, whilst the more expensive Nike trainers would be placed in a ‘Nike Trainers - Other’ ad group.

The final step in this process would be to control the searches so that they trigger the most appropriate products.

To do this, simply place negative keywords such as ‘cheap’ and ‘discount’ in the ad group variations featuring the more expensive products.

This tactic will allow you to advertise more accurately in terms of products served, as well as improving bid efficiency, for the differing user intent-levels.

4. Commercially Aligned

One of the best pieces of advice we can give when it comes to enhancing your Shopping campaigns, is to regularly consider how commercially aligned they are with the business.

This can be as simple as ensuring that you’re pushing the most appropriate products at any one time.

To use the clothing example again, you might want to make sure that you’re pushing summer items during the summer months.

It might sound obvious but, for generic searches such as ‘men’s shirts’, you need to make sure that you’re not serving your winter range.

You can control this using a granular structure, stemming from having detailed product type/custom label attributes in your feed.

If the structure is granular enough, you will be able to break products up into tight ad group themes such as ‘product category + gender + season’.

This will allow you to easily increase bids on the appropriate product groups at any time, to maintain commercial alignment.

5. Don’t Forget Bing

Bing provides massive opportunities when it comes to Shopping. Most industry sectors tend to have less competitive auctions than with Google, meaning you could potentially drive cheaper traffic and ultimately stronger ROIs through Bing.

Make use of Bing’s ‘Product Audiences’ feature! This is a dynamic remarketing list for products. It allows advertisers to segment users into groups based on actions they’ve taken on your site (e.g. viewed products/added products to basket), before remarketing those products accordingly, if an audience member searches again.

You’ll need to update your ‘Universal Event Tag’ (UET tag) to include two custom parameters (Page Type and Product ID), before you can use ‘Product Audiences’.

This is a great product, only available on Bing, that gives you a great opportunity to capture sales from users that have explicitly showed intent, that otherwise could slip through the net!

Hopefully this has provided food for thought on how you could improve segmentation of your Shopping campaigns to better match user intent and ultimately generate stronger results.

Tailoring your Shopping activity towards user intent is much more difficult than search campaigns, due to a lack of keywords.

However, through quality feed setup, utilisation of Google and Bing’s latest products and some creative flair, you can provide a much more user focused experience through your Shopping campaigns and blow your competition out of the water!


To find out more about how to optimise your Shopping or PPC campaigns

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