PPC Adventures Part 4: The Shopping Advertising Exam

The next week of my journey is over and it was a week with ups and downs. I just did the Shopping Advertising exam and had a lot of things to learn for this. Shopping exam sounds like a funny thing to do? That was my first thought about it too, but I was taught better.

Tl;dr

  • Fourth part of my journey to become a PPC expert
  • Still some complicated and confusing topics
  • How long does it take you to learn for the exams?
  • The elements and specifications of a Google Shopping Product Feed
  • Shopping campaigns, product groups, custom labels and campaign priority
  • Information about the Shopping Advertising exam – time, questions, passing score and validation
  • Getting certified

 

In the fourth part of the blog series I’m going to tell you about my inner urge and troubles to pass the exam, the elements and specifications of a Google Shopping Product Feed. Furthermore, I try to explain you the tricky Shopping campaigns, product groups, custom labels and campaign priority and will end with details about the Shopping Advertising exam.

 

Inner urge and troubles

Terms like custom labels and campaign priority didn’t make the Shopping Advertising exam a funny part of my journey. Again the learning materials were just theoretical and I had the same problem, as with the first exam: It was challenging for me to understand the topics due to my mother tongue. 

The learning materials are also available in German and other languages so it shouldn’t be too hard for you, to learn this. Although I had troubles with understanding every single topic, I’m glad that I got through it in English. If you want to get the certification, just try it. And don’t forget: It’s not the end of the world if you don’t pass the exams with your first try.

Before I start to explain you the elements and specifications of a Google Shopping Product Feed, I want to tell you how long it might take you, to prepare for the AdWords Fundamentals exam and the Shopping Advertising exam. If your schedule is not too full and have enough time to get through the learning materials, you might be able to get the exam within two weeks.

Therefore that I go to university and work next to it, it was a bit hard to get the certification within two weeks – but there was my inner urge to do this. I didn’t want to disappoint anybody in my team and so I just did it. I couldn’t concentrate while I was working and that’s why I learned on the weekends and in the night – with success. But enough from me, now it’s time to talk about the Google Shopping Product Feed.

The elements and specifications of a Google Shopping Product Feed

As announced in the last blog post, where I wrote about basic E-commerce knowledge, I’m now going to tell you more about the Google Shopping Product Feed. The Product Feed is “a file made up of a list of products which use groupings of attributes that define each one of a merchant’s products in a unique way.” The Product Feed contains all the information about the products you sell and is most important.

The first thing you have to choose for your product feed is the format of the data feed. Google actually supports data feeds in the general formats text (.txt) and XML (.xml). Only on the basis of the feed-texts such as title, categories, brands or descriptions, Google decides if the product will be included in the search results of the online shopper.


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If your products should be listed in Google Shopping, there are several attributes you have to provide, depending on the specifications from each country. The specifications will help you to find out, which attributes are required for all items, which are required for certain types of items and which are recommended in each product category.  

The product categories range from All products with item groups, Apparel products without item groups to Custom goods, Media, Video game software, Books to all other products. Not providing a required attribute may prevent that the product is shown in Google Shopping results, whereas not providing a recommended attribute may just result in the product being shown up less frequently on Google Shopping results.

General attributes

First of all, there are some General attributes such as the id, to identify the item, the title of the item, the description of the item, the google product category and the product type. Also, the link to the item’s page on the website, the mobile link, the image link and additional image link and the condition or state of the item belong to the General attributes.

PPC Adventures Attributes

 

Availability and Price

These attributes are required to specify the availability and prices of the items. It is very important to notify Google about any changes that happen in this section. The related attributes are the availability status of the item, the availability date, the price of the item, the advertised sale price of the item and the sale price effective date, which refers to the date range during which the item is on sale.

Unique Product Identifiers

The Unique Product Identifiers are unique and identify a product in the global marketplace. The Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) and the product’s brand name are part of this section. If a GTIN or MPN are not available, you have to select FALSE for the attribute Identifier exists, otherwise choose TRUE.

Detailed Product Attributes and Item Groups

A t-shirt is available in several different sizes, colors and patterns? A couch is available in different materials, patterns and colors? Then it is recommended to use item groupings. Attributes in this section are the item group id, the color, gender and target age group of the item, material, pattern and size of the item as well as the size type and size system.

Shipping, Product Combinations and Adult Products

Shipping is one of the most important parts of the total costs of the item and many customers decide if they buy a product depending on the shipping costs. The shipping itself, the shipping weight and the shipping label are the attributes for this section. Google Shopping also allows the promotion of product bundles, a combination of different items sold as a combined product.

The attributes multipack and is bundle allow to submit information about the combined products. Another important point is the family status of the product listings that is submitted. The adult attribute should be used to make sure that the content is shown to the appropriate audience.

AdWords attributes, Custom labels for Shopping campaigns and additional attributes

The AdWords attribute adwords redirect helps to organize the AdWords campaigns and allows to track the traffic to the website the product originates from. Adwords grouping is required if you want to bid differently on different subsets of products. Adwords labels is very similar to this but it will only work on cost-per-click (CPC).

Custom labels can be used to group the items in a Shopping campaign by the values that you choose. Five custom labels can be created, numbered from 0 to 4. The excluded destination and the expiration date are additional attributes and allow to control the destination of the items and the period during which the item is valid.

Specifications

Now that we have listed all the elements of the Google Shopping Product Feed, it is important to know the specifications for the target country.

I will try to show you an example for Austria:  If your products should be listed in Google Shopping in Austria, the required attributes for the product category Non-Apparel in All product with item groups are id, title, description, link, image link, condition, availability and price. You can search for the full listed Product Feed Specifications for your target country on Google Merchant to get a full list of the specifications with all product categories included.

Shopping campaigns

Another topic in this broad range of subjects are Shopping campaigns. If you want to set up a Shopping campaign and create Product Listing Ads (PLAs)  you’ll need to link your Google Merchant Center and Google AdWords accounts. You also have to check, if the content you are providing complies with the Google Shopping Policies. Always make sure that your type of business, products, promotions, and website meet the requirements for Google Shopping.

The next requirement for Shopping campaigns is, that you send an up-to-date product data at least every 30 days. Always keep those requirements in your mind. Now it’s time to think about product groups, custom labels and campaign priority. First I was confused about those terms,

but I think I got it and will try to explain them to you.

Product groups

Product groups are like keywords and let you subdivide your product feed into smaller segments. They contain a group of one or more product IDs and helps you to structure your elements. All the products inside a product group use the same bid. The available options for grouping your products are limited to parameters that exist in your merchant feed.

When you first create a Shopping campaign, you’ll have one product group called “All products” that includes all your products. It’s recommended that you split them into smaller groups to make bidding more specific.

Custom labels  

Custom labels can be used to group the items in a Shopping campaign by the values that you choose. Five custom labels can be created, numbered from 0 to 4. The first step is, to give the custom labels a definition and specify possible values for each. Here’s an example:

hero custom label example 1

 

The second step is, to assign appropriate values of each product in your product data. Notice that each of the five custom labels can only have one value per product. For example:

custom label example 2

 

Campaign priority

Campaign priority is useful when you’re advertising the same product, for the same country, in multiple Shopping campaigns. When you have one product, that appears in multiple Shopping campaigns, you can determine which campaign should take part in the auction for that product with the campaign priority.

When you use campaign priority, the bid will not be the deciding factor. You can set the priority to High, Medium or Low. Here’s an example: You have campaign A with Product 1 and priority Low and you have campaign B with product 1 and priority High. The Product Listing Ads will be triggered from campaign B, because the priority is High.

There are four rules, Campaign priorities use to determine bids:

  • The highest priority campaign will bid
  • If the highest priority campaign runs out of budget, the lower priority campaign bids
  • Note about ad delivery
  • When multiple campaigns have the same priority, the highest bid is used

Please don’t forget that I cannot cover every topic from the learning materials in this blog post. The terms and definitions I give you, are those things, I remembered the most and were the hardest parts for me to learn. With this post, I want to give you an easier description to help you with your learning for the exam.

The Shopping Advertising Exam

I have to be honest, that the attributes really scared me. Fortunately I can tell you, that there are not so many questions about them in the exam. The Shopping Advertising exam itself was definitely easier than the AdWords Fundamentals exam, but maybe this is just my feeling about it. Again I can calm you down, there is more than enough time to answer the questions. Print your learning materials and take them as assistance.

Shopping Advertising Exam Level Up

 

This exam covers both, basic and advanced concepts, creating a Merchant Center account and product data feed, and creating and managing Shopping campaigns. You have 90 minutes to complete the exam which consists of 63 multiple choice questions. Again you need 80 percent to pass the exam. If you don’t pass the exam, you can retake it after 7 days.

Notable is, that the Shopping Advertising exam is available in a simplified Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (US and UK), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

Example Question

To give you a little insight to the exam, like I did it for the AdWords Fundamentals exam, I wrote down one of the questions.


Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) bidding should be used to:

  1. Drive engagement with product brand
  2. Bid for a target cost-per-acquisition (CPA)
  3. Increase total impressions
  4. Optimize bids using converted clicks

You don’t remember the example question I gave you for the AdWords Fundamentals exam? Here you can find it again.

Defeat the Google Shopping Boss

Here’s the good news: I passed the second exam and got the AdWords certification. How does it feel? To be honest, I’m really happy that it’s over. It’s a lot to learn and without the practical insights, it’s hard to remember all the things you’ve learnt but now I’ll try to get the practical insights from my colleagues to consolidate the learned topics.

I still have the feeling, that I don’t know so much, but this feeling is slowly getting better every day. Now that I’ve passed both exams, the journey is still not over. It’s a large pool of topics I yet have to discover and I’ll definitely stay tuned on the topics to finally become a PPC expert. 🙂

If you have any questions about the exam or the topics, please do not hesitate to ask me – we are all in the same boat and I will try my best to help you. 🙂

Series overview: