Single Product Ad Groups – A Better Google Shopping Structure

This is the third in our series on improving Google Shopping ads. If you haven’t already, you can check out our first article on improving feed quality and our second article on advanced query sculpting.

If you’ve ever read the DemandMore blog before, you will know that I’m a huge advocate of using single keyword ad groups, or SKAGs, in search campaigns because they drive great results.

Well, as it turns out, there is an equivalent format for Google Shopping called SPAGs, or single product ad groups.

What are single product ad groups?

Single product ad groups are a way of structuring Google Shopping campaigns to give you the most control over when your ads show.

They are simply an ad group that contains only one product.

This allows you to set bids for each product. This is important, because each product has a different margin, as the diagram below shows.

It also allows for the pausing of individual products that are not performing well. It enables you to create a set of negative keywords for each product, too, further improving the efficiency of your shopping campaigns.

With this structure, you can ensure that your shopping ads appear in the most relevant searches and that you can control the bids to hit your ROAS targets.

The structure also makes optimising and reporting easier, as it allows you to quickly see how much revenue each product is generating, as well as the search terms that triggered that specific product to show.

Why you should use SPAGs

The main reason for using SPAGs is that they give you back some of the control that you lose due to Google Shopping not being keyword targeted. 

Being able to see the search queries that your ads appear for can also be helpful for optimising your product titles and other elements of your data feed, becauses the title has the biggest impact on when your Google Ads show. 

Furthermore, it allows you to take back some control over which keywords your Google Shopping ads appear for when used in conjunction with a query sculpting strategy

Naming conventions for SPAGs

Using a sensible naming structure for SPAGs is really important, especially when you might have tens of thousands of SKUs within your account.

We suggest that you create the name of your SPAG using data from your product feed, adding the name and price of the product as a minimum. 

If you have the data within your feed, you could also consider adding the product ID as well as the margin, as this helps you make bidding decisions.

Should I still use SPAGs if I’ve got thousands of SKUs?

The simple answer is yes. 

Although there are arguments that having thousands of SPAGs is a nightmare to manage and time-consuming to set up, the significant benefits of running Google Shopping in SPAGs outweighs the downsides.

The key to solving these two issues lies with automation. Although you can build SPAGs manually, which would take literally all day, using the Google Ads API, you can automatically build them at scale in minutes for tens of thousands of SKUs.

In terms of bid management and adding negative keywords, with the right set of Google Ads scripts, Google’s tROAS Smart Bidding or, for enterprise advertisers, third-party tools such as Google Ads 360, Kenshoo or Marin, you can manage these complex campaigns with ease.

Even a lot of the negative keyword work to exclude poor performance terms can be done at scale using n-gram analysis to find trends in large sets of data across several campaigns with ease.

How to create SPAGs at scale

Step 1. Get the right structure

When creating SPAGs at scale, you need to think carefully about your structure, because Google Ads only allows a maximum of 20k ad groups per campaign. 

Even if you have fewer than 20k ad groups, we suggest that you don’t group all of your products together into just one campaign, with each product split out at ad group level. 

We recommend that you break your SPAGs into different campaigns based on an identifier within your product feed. 

There are a few ways of doing this. One of the most common methods is to split campaigns by product category. Here is an example of how we have done this for one of our clients. 

This generally works well, as products in these campaigns are likely to have similar relevant negative keywords that would apply across all of them.

You can also test splitting your campaigns by product profit margin. Here you would have campaigns for products with 5-10% margins, 10-15% margins and so on. 

This is an effective format if you’re planning to bid based on each product’s profit margin.

Splitting campaigns by brand or by top performers versus the rest can also work well, depending on what you’re looking to achieve.

Step 2. Splitting by ID

There are two main ways in which you can build single keyword ad groups. The first is using automation via a third-party tool that works through the Google Ads API, and the second is to do it manually using a spreadsheet. 

By far the easiest way to do it is using a third-party platform. The one that we generally use is Optmyzr.

You can then define a hierarchy that you want Optmyzr to split your products out by. We suggest that you do category and then product ID to split out each product individually.

Source: Optmyzr

Once you’ve done this, just hit “Run” and it creates thousands of SPAGs for you at scale – split out into the exact structure that you want.

This is by far the easiest way to build SPAGs and is the method that we use here.

You can, however, build them using a spreadsheet, which is also reasonably quick but requires some Excel skills.

Conclusion

Single product ad groups are a great way to take back a lot of the control that advertisers have lost with Google’s black box approach to shopping.

Whether you have one SKU or one million, the key to building this structure at scale and managing it effectively lies with automation. 

We suggest using a third-party tool such as Optmyzr to build campaigns in the SPAG structure, then use Google scripts, Smart Bidding or third-party applications, such as Google Ads 360, Martin or Kenshoo, to manage bids at scale.


About Wes

Wes is the Managing Director of DemandMore. He is columnist for several leading marketing publications including Campaign Magazine, Econsultancy and Search Engine Land where he shares his expertise in search marketing.