Shopping ads for the small budget: Here’s what to expect in 2019

This year may (finally) see the end of feeds, but we can also expect an increasing adoption of smart shopping campaigns and more advanced bidding strategies with Bing Ads for smaller budgets.

Believe it or not, a new year is upon us (our surprise, of course, being in the speed of its arrival rather than the arrival itself) and in accordance with previous predictions, Shopping Ads are more important than ever for the e-commerce marketers toolbox.

What I have found to be frustrating about Shopping Ads at times, is that most articles and presentations seem to be primarily geared towards larger brands and accounts.

But what about smaller budgets? Marketing Land approached me with the idea of writing a predictions post for the SMB shopping advertiser and I loved it!

Here are my thoughts on what we can expect from Shopping Ads for smaller accounts in 2019. Please note that these aren’t completely devoid of value for larger Shopping Ads advertisers, they are just specifically created with the smaller budget account in mind.

1. The (true) beginning of the end of feeds

I think we will see full integration of Google’s page crawling service into Google Merchant Center by the 2019 holidays. In other words, I think we’ll see the feed begin it’s gasping, final breaths. To continue the metaphor at the risk of being somewhat violent… I’ll happily cheer (and assist, if possible) its demise.

I have often thought that of all the things for Google to invest its algorithm and machine learning and brain power regarding Ads, why not take the fairly easy step of eliminating the need for a product feed since virtually every important product element is already listed on the product page.

Yes, I realize there are many complicated things that go into this, but keep in mind I am writing this post to small brands or retailers.

My experience has been that with a few exceptions, limited budget accounts tend to be somewhat simplistic in product changes. That is, elements in the feed once set, rarely change with the exception of new products or updated pricing and stock status. By the way, those last two are already included in automatic item updates and already fully automated based on page data.

Because many small brands are also making a feed themselves, and have limited budgets, a feed provider isn’t always a great solution (and neither is Google Sheets for those with too many products to add manually) since they still have to get the product data uploaded to the feed provider.  It would be simpler for retailers or brands to request Google scrape their site for data so they can be feed free. I have a suspicion that many of them would go that route.

What about data accuracy? If all advertisers don’t use some form of structured data markup then doesn’t that mean we’ll just get what Google wants us to have?

A valid concern, but in my opinion:

  1. Google is filled with brilliant engineers. If they can’t write a program to tell when there is a product description or price on the page even if that doesn’t have the exact correct markup then c’mon. (That’s my cynicism talking.)
  2. Feed rules could be used by smart advertisers to tell Google what to map each field to based on the options that Google gives them (in this fantasy non-feed world of mine).
  3. Feeds would still be an option (also why I don’t think third party feed providers are doomed… well, at least the ones who offer optimization assistance. The ones who simply push up fields, yeah, they’re doomed eventually if they don’t evolve). Some advertisers will want to specifically control and test with feeds and they could be set to override anything Google pulls.
  4. Individual field kill-switches. Similar to automatic item updates currently, I’d expect to see an option for brands to be able to kill specific fields that they don’t want running that Google suggests.

Think of it though, all of those suggested fields that no small advertisers fill out, unless they are 4.0 students who can’t stand to leave test answers blank, would automatically be pulled.

While we’re probably still a little bit away from this, I think the signs are there that Google is focused on adding it. Remember that they announced automated feeds last July (start at 48:00), but to my knowledge, they’ve been silent since.

The warning signs are there. This is on Google’s radar and I think 2019 will be the year we see it pushed out.

2. Increased adoption of smart shopping campaigns

While many advertisers I speak to dislike the control Smart Shopping campaigns have taken away, others have begrudgingly noted the ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) success they have observed in these campaigns.

My experience so far has been fairly mixed. As can be expected because of the need for data to feed the hungry algorithms, I’ve certainly noticed more success in larger accounts than smaller accounts in running Smart Shopping.

Because of that, I still can’t personally suggest Smart Shopping campaigns to smaller advertisers. But I think that will continue to change and I expect to see Google push these even harder in 2019 on small, unsuspecting advertisers.

While their algorithms are sure to get better, I suggest treading cautiously in your limited budget accounts. Even the best machine learning algorithm needs good data in for good results to spit out. If you just don’t make a lot of sales in Google Shopping, I would suggest experimenting in a non-crucial time of year with only a subset of your products. Perhaps testing a few product brands in a Smart Shopping campaign, or a single category.

As you take over accounts, be prepared to see a lot of them with Smart Shopping switched on (which may or may not be related to the account’s need for new management) and the need for thinking wisely about its impact and testing manual, or other automated bidding options such as Target ROAS in order to utilize Google’s smart bidding, but retain control as well in other areas.

Regardless, be prepared for an onslaught of Smart Shopping campaigns this year. They work at times, and because of that as well as Google’s insistence on every campaign in every account (rolls eyes) being pushed to Smart Shopping campaigns, you can bet there are a lot of small advertisers who will follow the siren call of the “easy management” option and push the button in 2019.

3. Increased Bing Ads bidding automation

Lastly, I would be negligent to leave out Bing Shopping in a predictions post. I think we’ll see the addition of more advanced bidding strategies in 2019 for Bing Ads.

Currently, we can only bid manually or with enhanced CPC in Bing Shopping Ads and I would expect this to change this year. It would be interesting to be able to bid according to Target CPA and Target ROAS (with the Bing UET pixel set correctly, of course) and I would be surprised if this wasn’t in the works already.

read more here:

Consumers Are Now More Likely to View Ads Online Than on TV

GroupM unveiled its 2018 “State of the Digital” report, which predicts where people worldwide are expected to consume content in the coming year. And for the first time, the WPP network sees online surpassing every other vertical—linear TV, print and radio—in terms of where people will choose to spend their time with media.

The study, when weighted by expenditure, estimates that consumers will spend an average of 9.73 hours per day with personal media in 2018, up from 9.68 hours in 2017. GroupM predicts online to take a 38 percent share of total time spent with media; for the first time, linear TV trails behind and is expected to end the year with a 37 percent share. The group predicts radio and print to then take 18 percent and 7 percent shares, respectively.

Last year, linear TV held a 38 percent share over online’s 36 percent.

GroupM noted in the report that it wasn’t able to accurately measure TV’s online distribution, so those numbers were “lost in that online aggregate.”

The report likened the rise of digital ad expenditures to that of global e-commerce spend, which it also sees jumping considerably in 2018. Based off the 35 countries that supplied e-commerce totals for this study, GroupM predicts the dollars spent online to climb 15 percent to $2.4 billion in 2018 from $2.1 billion last year.

This is also the first time GroupM predicts e-commerce shopping to “grow notably faster” than Internet usership, which is estimated to climb 4 percent in 2018, compared to 6 percent in 2017.

Across the 35 reporting countries, the network estimates 47 percent of all online display investment to be transacted programmatically in 2018, from 44 percent in 2017 and just 31 percent in 2016.

GroupM’s research also touched on which of the hot-button issues around emerging tech are really top of mind for marketers, according to employees surveyed within its WPP network. For example, respondents described blockchain as a “slow, clunky and expensive” tool they don’t see as practical just yet.

“Blockchain’s main attraction is its distributed ledger, which tells everyone everything and thus presents the opportunity to reduce inefficiency or cheating,” Adam Smith, GroupM Futures director, said in a statement. “However, its Achilles’ heel is the need to keep every participating computer updated with everything all the time, and that’s too slow for a real-time world.”

The study’s respondents within GroupM reported improved development around AI and data use, although they admitted the need for further improvement on the latter. Those respondents brushed off the threat of clients in-housing their work, saying that it’s “more often talked about than done.” GroupM employees surveyed “reported [more] hybrid arrangements” than full in-house operations, “with clients often happy to take on strategy but leave risky and expensive execution to agencies.”

Clients are hiring more digital staff in-house and leaning more on specialist agencies than generalists, according to the study.

In a statement, GroupM global CEO Kelly Clark listed automation and talent as the “big themes in advertising’s current revolution.”

“One of the downsides of specialization is the increase in specialists who know more and more about less and less,” Clark said in the statement. “We have to use automation to liberate brand power so talented people can look across the entire media ecosystem to help clients optimize short-term results and create long-term value.”

read more here: