I like to call this one extreme Google Shopping, and the one PPC case study you don’t want your competitors to read.


A big claim, but in most cases the majority of Google advertisers aren’t getting the ROI they deserve. But in fairness, when it comes to shopping campaigns it is not necessarily the fault of the advertiser.

Why, because there’s a distinct lack of keyword targeting for shopping campaigns and the assumption is you upload your merchant feed and you’re done (but that’s just the start).

Let’s face it, shopping campaigns can be a little unwieldy.

Yes we can optimise feeds to ensure product details are correct & search queries match, but it’s not guaranteed.

The reality is, an accurate shopping feed isn’t ‘optimising’ anything, it’s just good housekeeping.

Bid management at the product level is okay, it’s best practice but certainly not inventive.

If your competitors are all doing all this ‘best practice’ stuff too – then how are you ever going to be the market’s top performer?

Sticking to best practice alone makes it hard, if not impossible to out-fox your competition.

Right now, everything feels a little, well… unsophisticated.

We’re going to fix that…

Matt Lawson Quote


This case study shows you how, by stepping outside of the proverbial box, there is a better way to shopping ROI.

With some clever campaign structuring and search sculpting, performance rewards are there to be had.

You just need to be shown where to find them.

You’re going to discover:

  • How to combat a lack of keyword (precision) targeting
  • How we structure accounts to be better than best practice
  • How you can layer, remarket and automate your way through the data
  • How this dramatically improves your revenue without lifting spend

We won’t be talking about conversion rates either.

We should always be optimising based on click revenue, not conversion rates alone.

Effective PPC management is anchored around paying the right price for the right click.

Search intent is your edge, so let’s dive in…



Navigational, informational and transactional – you may have heard those designations before. They’re the traditional way of describing how people search the web.

But, they don’t really apply to shopping.

In fact, ‘transactional’ is far too a broad a specification to describe the buying cycle.

When it comes to shopping online, there are 3 additional types of search intent, and each one represents the customer’s likelihood of making a purchase – from you – today.

They are therefore crucial to your retail success and can be described as: generic, brand, specific.

Search Type Table

But what do these search buying patterns look like in practice?



Mindset: I know I want one, but I’m not sure which brand I should choose, or the specific product that suits my needs.

Generic Search

Generic Search Example


Mindset: I know I want one, I’ve selected which brand I wish to buy, but I’m not sure which specific product is right for me.

Branded Search

Branded Search Example


Mindset: I know I want one, I’ve selected which brand I wish to buy, and now I’m looking for the specific product I wish to buy.

Specific Search

Specific Search Example


Theories can be dangerous, thankfully with the power of ecommerce enabled Analytics, the real-world data can be used to validate the concept.

Below is a 6-month extraction of the top 10,000 search queries, by query length (how many words). Here we confirm search query length dramatically effects the revenue produced per click.

Understanding the search buying patterns is one thing, but without keywords how do we structure a Google Shopping campaign to take full advantage of this?

Next, we build…



If everyone else is only optimising their feeds and product bids, how can you sculpt your campaigns to take full advantage of how customers – not search engines – behave?

Bidding at a product level means that you bid the exact same amount for that product, regardless of the search intent.

That’s what everyone else is doing, and that’s less than ideal.

The method to identifying and unlocking the potential of generic, brand and specific search patterns, starts with mapping out a product search hierarchy.

Search Bid Hierarchy

Using the product hierarchy, this is how we start to structure campaigns for maximum return on investment:

This enables campaigns to serve spend versus search intent.

Exclusive of the feed, Shopping campaigns are controlled by four factors; negative keywords, priority, bid and budget.

Using negative keywords for brand and specific product terms, combined with bid, we sculpt when to show shopping ads and at what price point.

  • Bidding low on less specific product search terms
  • Bidding medium for those brand search terms
  • Bidding high against product specific search terms

Shopping Priorities

Because the same products now exist across multiple campaigns, the shopping priority setting enables us to prioritise the low bid on the product based search terms.

The brand based terms have a medium priority, and of course the lowest priority goes to the highest bid, which is to trigger only the longer, more precise specific search queries.

This simple approach removes any internal account competition where the strongest bid would win by default.


Finally, a shared budget is applied to avoid the unfortunate scenario of your best products depleting their budgets and allowing spend to trigger in the higher priority, but lower ROI campaigns instead. That would be counterproductive, of course.

Is that it?

Not entirely. This account structure will certainly give you an edge over your competitors, funnel budget to the most appropriate products and decrease cost per sale.

But it doesn’t end there…



With the account structured nailed down, now you need a robust remarketing (aka retargeting) strategy.

We live in a multi-touch world where people browse and shop across many devices, which makes remarketing a very important component for your marketing.

Search, display and social remarketing can bring the right customers back to your site – to purchase – whilst they’re still in the mood for spending money.

It’s a shame then, that so many people get it wrong.

Let’s get it right, these remarketing lists are begging to be deployed in your AdWords account.

Remain front and centre of buyers

  • Viewed basket, didn’t commit to purchase
  • Viewed a high ‘detail-view’ to checkout-rate product
  • Viewed website for over 4 minutes in one session
  • Viewed site in the past 5, 10 and 15 days
  • Viewed site from high converting location
  • Viewed site from high converting device
  • Viewed site and in top lifetime value segment

Target your best mobile devices

An audience of the top 10-15 converting devices based on a higher than average per session value.

Demographic trends

A gender and age segment, based on geography and per session value above the site average.

Apply these audiences to your campaigns for both search (RLSA) and display.

Next, we layer them…



Bids are critical, a few pence in the wrong direction and you either lose conversions or you pay too much for them.

So with any typical store having thousands of products and segments, how do we do it?


Firstly, all audiences are layered by priority. Those basket abandoners, top performing demographics, devices, regions and down to recent visitors.

This ensures that budget is prioritised based on the most responsive audience (not necessarily the largest).


The next step is to produce 24/7 bid schedules.

Most [expensive] bid management systems aren’t as clever or as granular as they’d have you believe. In fact, many are limited to just a few updates per day.

That’s not going to cut it.

We deploy seasonally sensitive scripts that automates bidding across a custom schedule, for every hour of every day of the week. A hat tip goes out to this post for the original script that we’ve since butchered and fully automated.


24h Bidding Schedule

Looks fancy.

Is fancy.

And because past performance isn’t always indicative of future performance, we typically run a portion of the ad budget on an open schedule with no bid modifiers.

This enables you to spot trend changes and react to them (hurrah – humans are not yet surplus to requirements)!

  • Bulletproof build complete
  • Red hot remarketing strategy in place
  • Pro optimisation schedule activated

What does all this work this look like in real terms, let’s look at “extreme Google Shopping” return on investment…



There’s a lot of moving parts to a successful pay per click campaign and when it comes to Google Shopping, way more than meets the eye!

Time, expertise, the right artificial intelligence and (admittedly) some heavy lifting, pays dividends.

High performing ecommerce stores aren’t born overnight, but driving revenue up by a whopping 192% in little over 180-days is a result we’re proud of:

Google Shopping Performance

Sustained performance, without the need for aggressive ad budget increases.


Using the steps outlined in this case study, we took an established Google AdWords account and transformed the performance.

Now its your turn.