Pimping Out Product Extension Ads

As of Thursday the 14th of October, Google released additional attributes that you and I can use to control and track those products that show up in product extension ads better.

And as of Wednesday, October 17th, 2012, Google is moving to an all paid platform, so I’ve updated this post. Each item that has changed or is new is marked accordingly!

First up, if you haven’t, revisit the classic- tracking product extension ads method and first AdWords attributes that product feeds offered: adwords_prefer_for_query and adwords_queryparam post or checkout the basic gist here:

adwords_prefer_for_query: Inside that column next to the products you want to be associated (or featured) for that specific keyword, add in your keyword, so in this case “groomsmen gift ideas.” (Note: This works best for exact match keywords. So if the user searches “best groomsmen gift ideas” there won’t be that same association.)

adwords_queryparam: If you want to see exactly what a user typed in for a search and then visited your products listing with, insert an additional column: adwords_queryparam as the attribute and plugin in kw={keyword} after every product. This will make it so when a user clicks on your ad, it will pass through the exact search query through to GA.

*UPDATE* These attributes are no longer found in Google Merchant Center Help, nor listed as available attributes to use- but don’t appear to have stopped working entirely, at least for the USA. You’re best to assume that these aren’t attributes to utilize any more in the near future.

OK- on to the new stuff!

(Using the example of the text/tab delimited feed)

AdWords Grouping (adwords_grouping)

What you can do with it: 2 things- group certain sets of products together AND allows you to bid a different amount for product extension ads for that specific set of products you’ve grouped together.

Google’s definition:

Used to group products in an arbitrary way. It can be used for Product Filters to limit a campaign to a group of products, or Product Targets to bid differently for a group of products. This is a required field if the advertiser wants to bid differently to different subsets of products in the CPC or CPA % version. It can only hold one value.

Product Filters allows you to show a subset of your products in your product ads (both extension ads and the product listing ads). See below for more on this.

Product Targets allows you to trigger product listing ads for search terms that are related to the products that you specify in the Auto Targets tab in your AdWords account. “Remember that product filters allow you to specify which Google Merchant Center products are eligible to appear for your AdWords product ad campaign, while product targets allow you to specify which products trigger your product listing ads for related searches.”

For example: I sell comforters, pillows, duvets and sheets. I can group like items together to help “push” what Google finds “relevant” to the user’s query on which product thumbnails it shows under my AdWords ad. See column “F.”
But how do you bid differently for different product targets?

That’s where the Auto Targets tab in AdWords comes in. Not every account has this tab, your account must be whitelisted for it. I’ve been having a heck of a time finding accounts that do, even with Merchant Center accounts that are linked and running product extension ads. In fact the only picture I could find of it was from Twitpic in August of this year from Camruud:

If you are on the list the Help Center does have a step by step walk through on how to do it.

Remember! The values must match the values in your Google Merchant Center feed exactly, or your ads will not be served for these targets.

Enter the bids in the Auto Target tab. Set up an auto-target for each of the adwords_groupings you set up. Then you’ll be able to manage the bid from here. There can be multiple auto targets in an ad group, and are controlled at the auto target level.

The only reason why you would use separate ad groups is if you have a different promotional offer (ex: one item has free shipping and another one doesn’t.

AdWords Labels (adwords_labels)

What you can do with it: tag a product with one or more labels. Using the example of pillows- you could label that singular product with labels for down pillows, pillow- see Column G.

Google’s definition:

Very similar to adwords_grouping, but it will only only work on CPC. It can hold multiple values, allowing a product to be tagged with multiple labels.

Labels are good attribute for helping Google determine what the product is and what queries to show it with, similar to the adwords_prefer_for_query.

AdWords Exclusion (adwords_publish)

What you can do with it: exclude specific products from showing up with product ads, yet allowing them to still show in the Google Shopping results by using TRUE or FALSE- see column H.

Google’s definition:

Used to exclude select offers from Product Ads. If not present, we assume we are able to show in ads.

For example: there’s a brown duvet cover set that rarely converts due to it’s high price, you have one left and it’s in the twin size. You don’t want to bring users in on something that will create a negative experience, you want them to come in on the bargain line that’s been converting like crazy.

Just use the “false” if you don’t want it to show- leave blank otherwise, you don’t have to put the “true” in for every single product to use this attribute.

AdWords Redirect (adwords_redirect)

What you can do with it: Send users on a Google search page via product extension ad to a different page on your site instead of where the feed sends them for that product listing.
Google’s definition:

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

For example: The product group for pillows is showing 4 different kinds of pillows, but what I’d really like to do instead of deep linking users to the side sleeper pillow page is drop them off at the main category page for pillows since I have 30 kinds. It just happens that the best looking product photos is that pillow and if my cousin would learn how to work a camera, I’d have more pictures that don’t look like a Yeti in a snowstorm. See column I.

*UPDATE* This attribute was mainly being used to differentiate Product Listing Ads from the free Google Shopping listings. Now with everything being paid and merged under the “Google Shopping” umbrella, you’ll want to keep an eye on this and most likely, make adjustments depending on what you want to track or possibly discontinue use as all traffic will be recorded in AdWords in clicks and impressions. What you won’t know in the AdWords UI is if the PLA showed on google.com or google.shopping.com.


Tracking Product Search from Search

What can you do with it: Expanding on the original adwords_queryparam attribute, we now have two more dimensions beyond the keyword query performed by the user. You will be able to see the keyword typed in by the user that got them to click on the ad, the value (which you determine) an the ad type.

First up- Ad Type

Google’s definition:

You can use {adtype} in this attribute, which will be replaced by “pe” or “pla” if the click came from a Product Extensions ad or a Product Listings one respectively.

For example: Why wouldn’t you want to see in GA if the visitor came from a Product Extension Ad or a Product Listing from Google Shopping? See column J.

*UPDATE* This attribute has also vanished from the Google Merchant Help Center. Still functioning in the USA, but watch for a possible retirement.


Google’s definition:

If you have any individually-defined parameters to include, Google will append these values to the end of the destination URL of the offer: http://example.com/offer26?aid=450

For example- Ad Id, you’re running a special on comforters and you want to track how that ad does specifically in conjunction with product extension ads that feature the grouping of comforters you made. See column K.

Google’s definition:

Google will append the keyword that triggered the ad into the {keyword}. Applies to product extensions on keyword-targeting.

This is one of the original attributes created back in Dec. 2009. Simply pop the kw={keyword} into the fields and GA will populate with the keyword query used to bring the user to your site via Google Product Search. See column L.


*UPDATE* This attribute has also vanished from the Google Merchant Help Center. Still functioning, but watch for a possible retirement. I would encourage you to download this Google Analytics PLA Dashboard to better track the matched search queries used to trigger your PLAs. It’ll be much easier and far less messy. The regular expressions used to pull only PLA campaign queries are built in.

These are great features to not only enhance your product extension ads with but track and experiment with. Personally I am most excited about the grouping and ad type features and have already started rolling them out where I can.

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  1. Excellent article Elizabeth, not sure when you wrote it but over in the UK we have struggled to get much information out of Google on this subject
    cheers Ann

  2. Hi Elizabeth, brilliant article. Quick questions, for AdWords_Labels, would you happen to know if the terms are considered broad matched? For example, for the product with the label ‘sheets,’ if I were to enter ‘bed sheets’ would it show?

    1. Hi Sohna-
      AdWords_Labels has the ability to hold multiple values, so you could use both sheets and bed sheets. The tags aren’t matched by match type per se, but they are considered “tags” so being descriptive is helpful. Think of it more like a phrase match when deciding which tags to use and use the labels more as a way to label/group the products as they are on your site for increasing performance.

  3. Really great article, Elizabeth, but I can’t seem to get this working 🙁 I’ve tried to add the attribute ‘adwords_queryparam’ to my XML productfeed, with the values ‘kw={keyword}’ and ‘adtype={ad type}’. When I import this XML feed into Google’s Merchant Center, I get an error that says the values for ‘adwords_queryparam’ are not valid.
    How did you get this working? Did you use a XML feed, or a spreadsheet? Maybe ‘adwords_queryparam’ can’t be used in feeds targeted for the Netherlands? Hope you can help me 🙂

    1. AdWords has actually retired the queryparam attribute according to the Merchant Help Center, unfortunately. I will need to update the post, thanks for pointing this out.
      Ad Type (PE vs. PLA) is speculated to be going to be going away in October as well- with all of “it” being consolidated under the “Google Shopping” umbrella. Personally, I don’t agree with that, as PEs are very different from PLAs, but it is something to watch for.
      I would recommend nesting anything you want to filter in grouping or labels- as those are columns that are still in use and can be customized in pretty much any way you’d like.
      I really recommend CPC Strategy’s new (free) ebook on this: http://learn.cpcstrategy.com/GoogleShopping2.html there is some more in-depth tagging you can do with GA.

  4. Hi Elizabeth,
    Thanks for your reply!
    Since I’ve posted my question, I’ve been trying and reading to get this going. It indeed seems Google retired the queryparam attribute, but instead uses the adwords_redirect attribute. You can specify a different URL for PLA’s or PE’s than for organic shopping results. I’ve added the following utm tagging parameters to the adwords_redirect URL:
    This seems to work. When I copy the URLs from a SERP, I can that see the added parameters in PLA’s and PE’s are really different from the organic results. But, the AdWords click ID (gclid) overrules the added parameters, therefore not showing up in Analytics as the shopping campaign.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to track organic/cpc shopping traffic as shopping campaigns in Analytics?

    1. Indeed! CPC Strategy’s Google Shopping Guide 2.0: Advanced Segment Tracking & CPA Campaigns. There are some step by step instructions on setting up tracking in GA. Specifically, they are combining plaple into one referrer though, through the adwords_redirect field so that you can separate paid Google Shopping for free, at least for the time being. There is also an advanced section on using the adwords_producttargetid as well and then filtering using regular expressions to see your results and even further segmenting in Excel.

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