Our special guest for episode 321 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast was Kirk Williams of ZATO Marketing. Site Strategics CEO Erin Sparks spoke with guest Kirk Williams of ZATO Marketing about Smart Shopping Campaigns and Shopping Ads through Google.
Kirk Williams: His Background and Experience
Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his Paid Search & Social PPC micro-agency of experts, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero for 3 years in a row (the first time was right after he was on our show), has written articles for many industry publications (including Moz, PPC Hero, Search Engine Land, and Bing), and is a frequent guest on digital marketing podcasts and webinars. He is one of the hosts of the weekly #PPCChat on Twitter, as well as an avid conference speaker, having traveled across the US and UK to talk about Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads). Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, soon-to-be five children, and little sleep. Kirk has booked speaking engagements in London, Dublin, NYC, Dallas, OKC, Milwaukee, and more and has been recognized through reviews as one of the Top 10 presentations on more than one occasion.
Prior to getting involved in digital marketing and PPC, Kirk was in seminary school and working overnight at Target. He was so exhausted he vowed to take the next job that came along, which just so happened to be digital marketing. An eCommerce company asked him to take on their Google AdWords, so he jumped in and taught himself on the job. After a couple of years he was starting to get his own clients and decided to launch his own agency, which became ZATO Marketing. The name is a nod to his seminary days. It’s a Greek Koine (the dialect of Greek in the Bible) word that means to search or seek out – very apropos to paid search digital marketing. His deepest expertise is in Google Shopping Ads.
Google Shopping Ads: The Basics
Google Shopping Ads has been around in one form or another for more than a decade. They are Product Listing Ads (PLA) featured across Google Search and shopping results. When you’re in text-based Google Search and these Shopping Ads pop up, they get your attention because suddenly there’s a picture of a product that might interest you. It’s a much more direct connection to the consumer, especially for products you need to see to know if it interests you, such as apparel. And of course you also instantly see the price and product ratings.
The trust factor is very important here. There are lots of requirements for Shopping Ads that don’t apply to text ads. For example, the landing pages you go to if you click on a Shopping Ad has to be totally legitimate. When you click on that ad that shows the product, price and ratings, you’re going to wind up on a legitimate page where all that information is there and accurate. Of course, people manage to slip things through until Google notices and disapproves it, but you can trust that the ad and the page where you can buy match up.
Another big difference with Shopping Ads is that you’re not bidding on keywords. Instead, you submit a feed of your product data to Google, which then matches your feed to user search queries. Rather than bidding on keywords, you have to make sure those keywords are in your product data feed. Among the requirements for Shopping Ads is that the page consumers land on after clicking the ad has to be able to handle the whole transaction: Ad to a cart, checkout, pay, and so on. The idea is to make sure there’s no possibility of any kind of bait-and-switch schemes.
There will also be multiple Shopping Ads showing up in Google results, up to something like six, which means your relevant product(s) will be shown along with your competitors so shoppers can instantly compare before deciding to click on that and go to a specific merchant’s site to learn more or make the purchase. This makes Google Shopping Ads an additional piece of digital real estate where you brand can appear online outside of your website. And it’s prime real estate appearing at the top of Google search results. And unlike text ads, you could have multiple Shopping Ads appear at the top of a search engine results page (SERP). You’ll pay for it, to be sure, but right now the platform does allow a brand to be very aggressive. There are many ways to optimize Shopping Ads, and various ways to group related products in your product data feed.
Greater Automation is Coming
At some point (and it’s already happening in some places, but not yet in the US), Google is going to move to a “feedless” approach where you won’t have to feed them anything because they will get it all automatically from your website. And if they’re going to scrape it from your site, then schema is going to come into play more and more. Yes, people will complain and get mad, but then they’ll all fall into line and comply, right, because what choice do they really have? It’ll be just like when Google started requiring GITNs (Global Trade Item Numbers). Everyone complained bitterly, but since they also still wanted to advertise, everyone got on board.
These kinds of automations are only going to increase over time, not decrease, so it will be worth everyone’s while to make sure their websites and shopping software and so forth are able to rise to the challenge and fit in and be effective. This kind of automation is already happening with pricing and status (in-stock/out-of-stock). Kirk notes that automatic item updates are already in use for most of his clients. Google will automatically correct any item’s price in the Google Merchant Center if it doesn’t match what’s on your website. With the autocorrection, then they don’t have to disapprove an ad because of a mis-match. Just keep in mind that all of this can and will make your life as a digital marketer easier, if you let it. And If you’re new to Shopping Ads, check out Kirk’s A Beginner’s Guide to Shopping Ads!
Connect with Kirk Williams of ZATO Marketing
Twitter: @PPCKirk (https://twitter.com/PPCKirk)
Facebook: @PPCKirk (https://www.facebook.com/PPCKirk/)
Instagram: @ppckirk (https://www.instagram.com/ppckirk/)
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