Posted 9 March, 2011 by in PPC

AdWords Product Extensions and Your Google Product Feed

With all the various ad extensions available to AdWords advertisers nowadays it can be a bit of a struggle of keep on top of everything and make sure that they are all working as well as they should.

I think by now everyone is pretty familiar with Sitelinks and how great they can be for improving CTR and how you can use them to push time sensitive promotions. As such I can confidently predict that everyone is running test after test on your links finding out what the best character lengths & offers are.

Since November 2009 in the US advertisers another extension available to advertisers has been Product Extensions. These extensions allow advertisers to not only push their products and promotions through the copy of their ads but also to include images of their goods within a ‘plusbox’ below the copy. When first shown the ad looks very similar to the other ads on the pages except with the additional one line of test that reads “Show products from this advertiser for {keyword}. When the searcher clicks on the plusbox next to this line of text a small window opens below the ad (pushing other advertisers further down the page) and a filmstrip of up to 6 items is shown. An example of this is type of ad ‘opened up’ is shown below.

This extension finally made its way over the pond late in 2010 & I was very keen to trial and run this type of ad as I had found great results from using Sitelinks previously, however, after running the extension for a while I became very frustrated with the lack of apparent control over which products were shown & when as well as tracking the extension accurately. Unlike the Sitelinks extension where you can manually fudge the tracking by adding a Sitelink= parameter to the URL, finding a way of tracking this extension was slightly more difficult as the products were taken straight from your Google Merchant Center which meant that the same feed was used to promote your products on Google Products.

One thing I’m not sure people realise with product extensions though is the amount of control you can have over exactly which products are shown when. Hopefully below you’ll be able to see that by adding just a couple of extra columns of data into your Google feeds you can make sure that every time the extension fires you’re showing the products you want to. Under each attribute I’ll show you what type it is and also what it will look like in your feeds (in either the text/tab delimited format or the XML format).

Before I go through these additions I’m going to make the assumption that you’ve already created your Google Merchant account & that you have also linked it to your AdWords account (If you haven’t done either of these & you are an online retailer you should definitely look at doing them now).

NOTE: At this point it’s also probably best to say that Google state that being able to manipulate your merchant feeds in the following ways is only available to advertisers in the US and the UK. They say that they are looking to increasing the number of markets that can use these features but I don’t know firsthand if this has changed. If you are advertising outside of these areas and you’ve had success let me know in the comments.

Grouping Attributes: There are a couple of different attributes available for grouping your products depending on what you require but they both allow you to organise your campaigns with specific groups of products.

adwords_grouping [adwords_grouping]
This can be used to group products in an arbitrary way and can be used to filter products or limit a campaign to a group of products if you want to bid differently for a group of products. This is a required field if you want to bid differently to different subsets of products in the CPC or CPA % version. It can only hold one value.

Type String
Text/Tab delimited shirts
XML shirts

adwords_labels [adwords_labels]
This is very similar to adwords_grouping, but it will only work on CPC, whereas the previous version worked on both CPC and CPA versions. This attribute can also hold multiple values, meaning that you can tag a product with multiple labels.

Type String
Text/Tab delimited jackets, shirts
XML jackets , shirts

Exclusion Attributes: This attribute allows you to exclude products from Product Ads. Such as special offers or sale items (if that’s what you want to do). If you don’t include this in your feed they will assume that they can show all your products in the ads.

adwords_publish [adwords_publish]

Type Boolean
Text/Tab delimited true OR false
XML true

Tracking Attributes: As with the grouping attributes there are a number of different options available to advertisers here depending on what they want to do.

adwords_redirect [adwords_redirect]
This allows advertisers to override the product URL when the product is shown within the context of Product Ads. Gives advertisers the ability to track different sources of traffic separately from Google Product Search.

Type URL
Text/Tab delimited

adwords_queryparam [adwords_queryparam]
This attribute is similar to the redirect above but instead of over-riding the URL it lets you add a value to the end of it. The options here are:

  • Ad type
  • Keyword
  • Value

Ad Type
If you use the ad type option (adtype=) your URLs will end with either adtype=pe (for product extensions) or adtype=pla (for product listings). This means that you are able to see exactly which channel the click (and conversion) has come from.

Type String
Text/Tab delimited adtype={adtype}
XML adtype={adtype}

For PPCers, this option should be pretty self explanatory. When using keyword (kw=) Google will add the keyword that triggered the ad into the {keyword} field.

Type String
Text/Tab delimited kw={keyword}
XML kw={keyword}

If you have any internally defined of campaign/ channel specific parameters that you would like to include in your URLs this is the option for you. Using this mean that Google is able to append them to the end of your URL. You can see an example below.

Type String
Text/Tab delimited aid=999
XML aid=999

Hopefully you’ll find that by using some of these additional attributes you’ll be able to use the (relatively) new free clicks data found under the Dimensions tab and optimise your product feeds better!

If you want to know what else you can do with your feeds you can also find all the required & recommended Google Products feed attributes in the Google Merchant Center help section. I’ve also put together a handy chart that includes all the above details here .