Complete Guide to Google Shopping Automation in 2021

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Google Shopping Automation

The advent of eCommerce has changed our lives for the better…. no, we won’t begin with any such line like that. It is a well-established fact that online platforms have been one of the most incredible things since canned foods.

Ever feel blessed when you can compare an endless number of brands while looking for one single product?

Yes, eCommerce platforms have gifted us with that!

As the likes of many such platforms, we widely use in our daily lives. This platform can’t precisely be termed as a platform but is a marketplace that links sellers to buyers. It assures visibility to businesses of all shapes and sizes, despite their reach. 

Sounds impressive, right? However, the complex process of development and management of campaign ads makes it challenging for several users, and this is where Google Shopping automation comes into the picture. Let’s have a look at it in our next section.

What is Google Shopping Automation? 

Google Shopping automation is the automated management of feed updates that revolve around the availability and prices of products. It takes away the manual labor of uploading and updating product feeds over MCA.

Now that you know what automation over Google Shopping is let’s have a quick overview of the advantages.  

Benefits of Using Automation to Create and Manage Google Shopping Ads 

One of the significant benefits of using automation to create and manage Google Shopping Ads is the freedom from strategizing and creating manual campaigns and product feeds and saving you time to focus on your core business operations.  

Step by Step google shopping automation Workflow

1. Setting up Your Center account

Your very first step towards Google Shopping automation begins right here, with the creation of a merchant account. 

Steps to Create a Merchant Center Account

Listed below is a step-by-step process for the creation of a Merchant Center account:

Step 1: Setting your first foot forward with a Merchant Centre account is easy; all you need is a Gmail id. (However, we recommend using a new Google account to manage and execute operations over your Merchant Center account.)

Reason?

Your initial Google account might already have been used in many places; when you use the same account for the merchant center, you will end up adding to the extensive list of sign-ins with one specific id.

Step 2: Now that you have your email id handy, sign into the merchant center and fill in all the necessary fields given (you can also use your existing email if you desire). 

Tip: Put a lot of thought behind naming your Google account as it will be representing your business. 

Things to know for your Merchant account:

  • Google Merchant platform allows users to manage different Merchant Center accounts (a step that would come in handy for the marketers). To do the same, you need to request your newly created account to an MCA (Multi-Client Account). 
  • You might come across a situation where some other Google account needs access over your Merchant account; to do the same, you need to set up your user access. 

Note: You will require an admin’s privileges to make account-level modifications ( modifying users, managing sub-accounts, etc.). 

  • Google Shopping requires you to authenticate your Merchant Center account if you want to use the Content API.

Post the setting up of your Google Merchant Centre account comes the part where you need to administer an existing account. Let’s get started! 

Administering an existing account for a merchant

Manual steps: Under a situation where your client wants to keep control of their Merchant Center account, you can help them with –

  • You can ask your client to assign you as an administrative user of their Merchant Center account.
  • To use Content API to access your client’s account and authenticate it via OAuth2 client, you need to get permission for the same through a consent screen. 
  • To use Content API and authenticate the same over a service account, you need to add your service account ID over the client’s Merchant Center.

Similarly, if you come across a situation where your client wants you to manage their existing MCA, and you have a multi-client account, the steps are:

Step 1: Gather your required MCA ids of your client.

Step 2: Navigate to ‘Help’ under the menu section, present over the upper-right corner of your Merchant Center.

Step 3: Click on the ‘Contact Us’ section and request for the conversion of your client’s MCA to a sub-account of your Merchant Centre Account. 

Interestingly, you can also reverse the actions over this process by reaching out to Google in a similar fashion.

Verification and claiming URL for your Merchant Center

Verification of your Merchant Center is essential to prove that you are the authoritative person of a given account. To do the same, one must follow the steps suggested below to claim their URL over their MCA’s.

Note: You cannot authorize one merchant website from two Merchant Center accounts. 

To begin with, you need to first add your website to your MCA, the steps for which are:

Step 1: Once signed in, reach for the tools icon from the navigation menu of your Google Merchant Account.

Step 2: Once under the “Tools” section, select ‘Business information.’

Step 3: Hit the Website tab.

Step 4: Now, add the URL address of your online store and save the settings.

Now that you are done with adding the URL, it’s time you verify it. Verification of URL can be done in 4 ways over Google MCA, namely:

  • Connecting your website to Google Analytics
  • Linking your website to Google Tag Manager
  • Adding an HTML Tag
  • Uploading HTML File.

Once verified, it’s time you set your tax preferences and the shipping settings for your products. 

Setting up of tax and shipping 

Every product that you sell over your online store needs to have shipping information for sales navigation. Now, Google MCA allows users to avail two options: either go manual and set standard shipping rules or simply make use of the Content API for Shopping. 

Tip: If your business is focused around the United States, we suggest you first set up your tax settings to target your products. Not failing to do the same hampers operations as you won’t proceed further with product upload.

Let’s have a look at the detailed process of setting up tax and shipping over MCA.

Manual:

To manually set up your tax settings for the US, Google Merchant Center allows you to set up the shipping setting over a per-product basis or on an account-based basis.

Automatic: 

To automatically set up your tax settings for the US, you can use the Accounttax service over the Google Merchant Center. Further, you can either set up the shipping setting over a per-product basis or on an account-wide basis.

Tip:

  • To set your shipping settings account-wide, make sure that you use the Shipping settings service. 
  • To set your shipping settings for per-product, use product resource representation.

Once done with the major hustle and bustle of prepping up your Merchant Account, it’s time to move a step closer to your shopping campaigns with product feeds. 

Wondering what and how? Let’s explore!

While Merchant Center accounts help you with the task of storing your product’s information, allowing you to set Shopping Campaigns, the task remains incomplete without upload. However, here’s a trick – you need to upload a product feed over your eCommerce store to allow Google Shopping to fetch all the related information. 

To visit your product feed, you can reach out to both the Merchant Center and Content API. However, it’s the Content API that allows individual product uploads.

Let’s get started with the process.

2. Product Feed Setup

Steps to create a feed

Google Shopping allows users in two steps, Manual and Automatic, steps to both of which are explained below:

Manual:

Step 1: Select your desired feed format that is supported by Google and plan your feed structure.

Step 2: Once you have followed the specified guidelines and created a feed, it’s time to get the feed uploaded. 

Automatic:

To upload your automatically, use the content API once you are done with creating your data feeds, as per the guidelines set by Google Shopping. 

Correct an existing feed

If you already have an existing feed for your store but want to correct it or make it better.

Now that you have an existing feed that needs to be tweaked a little, make sure that you check out if your feed format matches Google’s criteria for feed upload.

Things to consider:

  • You can use feed rules to amend changes to the product feed instead of changing these transformations manually.
  • Consider deleting the parts that do not match the specifications of Merchant Center before you upload your feed data.
  • Add the missing pieces of information over your feed, making it a match with the Merchant Center requirements.

Now that you are done with the ideal feed format, it’s time to register your feed over the Merchant Center account and go live.

Maintain product feed

When you run an eCommerce store, the chances are high that you would like to introduce promotional events or simply revise your products’ availability. 

Interestingly, Google Shopping provides you with the functionality to maintain your feeds, both manually and automatically. The steps suggested ahead help you out with the same. 

Manual

Step 1: Create and link your supplemental feed to your primary feed. 

Step 2: Enable the automatic item updates to allow seamless maintenance of your product feed.

Automatic

To allow Google Shopping to automate the prices, information, and availability of your products, you need to use the Content API with the Inventory.set method. 

3. Google Ads Account Setup

Following the process of product feed creation is setting up your Google Adwords, the steps for which are listed below:

Sign up for a Google Ads manager account

Google Adwords manager account helps you align all the listed accounts over one unified structure. This way, users can quickly scale their operations over sub-trees that provide them with a complete hierarchy. 

Steps to create your Adwords manager account:

Step 1: Once you visit your manager’s page, signup with a new email id (that has not been used for any existing Adwords account).

Step 2: Assign a name to your account, followed by ‘Settings’ -> Account Settings -> Account Access.

Step 3: Once inside the Account Access setting, choose how you would like to manage your account (manage an individual business or manage it for some other merchant).

Step 4: Select the desired country, time zone, and create your account by saving the settings.

Post the creation of your Adwords account; Google will verify your email; once verified, your account is live. 

Exercise your rights over existing Google Ads account

Administering an existing Adwords account allows you to manage and view the data of the linked account. 

Note: Google allows a maximum of 5 manager accounts over an individual AdWords account. Further, the managed account structure cannot exceed six levels in depth.

Interestingly, administering an existing Ads account can be done both manually and automatically, the steps for which are given below:

Manual linking

Step 1: Note down the AdWords Customer ID provided over the top right corner of your account. 

Step 2: Reach out for the manager’s account > ‘Accounts’ > Performance. 

Step 3: Once you navigate to the performance tab, click on the sub-tab, followed by ‘+ Account.’

Step 4: Head for the ‘Link existing accounts’ options and review Google’s terms and conditions. Once done, add the Customer ID that you previously noted.

Step 5: Once done with the ID, submit the page. 

Once you have completed the process, the linked AdWords account receives an email and an account notification, inviting them to connect the account.

Automatic Linking

Step 1: Make sure that you are authenticated as the manager account and have your client’s customer ID handy.

Step 2: Now, use the ManagedCustomerService.mutateLink to initiate the process of linking a new account to the manager account via AdWords API. 

Note: 

Create a ManagedCustomerLink object, allowing you to process with the parameters of mutateLink call. Once done, you will still find the status to be ‘pending.’

Step 3: Create a LinkOperation, followed by the addition of ManagedCustomerLink that you had generated in the last step, followed by adding the client as an operator.

Step 4: Use the ManagedCustomerService.mutateLink to add the LinkOperation to extend your invitation to the client account.

Step 5: Once you receive the requested invitations over ManagedCustomerService.getPendingInvitations, you can easily view and accept/ decline the invitations.

Note: Your clients can also accept requests using an API call.

4. Link Merchant Center with Google Ads

When you link your MCA with your Adwords account, you allow Google Shopping to update the product feed details easily. To proceed with the same, you need to follow the suggested steps.

Requesting the links via Merchant Center

You can either request the linking process manually over the MCA or get it done automatically via Content API. Let’s understand the steps in detail:

Manual linking

Step 1: To link your accounts manually, navigate to ‘Account Liking’ through the dropdown menu. 

Step 2: Once done, click on ‘Adwords,’ followed by the ‘Link Account’ option where you need to add your AdWords customer ID for the account that needs to be linked. 

Step 3: This way, Google sends a link request to the specified AdWords account. 

 Automatic Linking

Step 1: Fill up the designated Adwords customer ID over the initial account resource that needs to be provided over Accounts.insert over the sub-account creation option.

Step 2: For existing accounts, you can either go with Accounts.patch or Accounts.update option to send a link to the adwords link field.

Voila, you are done with the linking process over the Merchant center. 

Accepting the link via Google Ads

This section covers the process of requesting the acceptance over the linking process that you had previously created, Given below are the steps for the same:

Manual

Step 1: Navigate to ‘Linked accounts’ over your Google Ads account and click on the Merchant Center section.

Step 2: Click ‘View Request’ to view and accept/ reject the requested links.

Automatic

Step 1: View the CustomerService section to access the list of requests via the getServiceLinks process.

Step 2: Once there, you can accept/ ignore the requests by using the mutateServiceLinks method.

5. Create Shopping Campaigns

Congratulations, you are all set to begin with the process of creating your shopping campaigns.

Creating your Shopping campaigns

Google allows you to create your shopping campaigns over the Adwords section or use the API to make things quicker for you. 

Not sure what to follow? See for yourselves:

Manual

Step 1: Ensure that your MCA and Adwords Account are linked. 

Step 2: Sign in to your Adwords account, begin with your new campaign after you have selected the desired MCA and “Country of Sale” to start with. 

Step 3: Now, configure all the necessary Shopping settings, e.g., bidding strategy, inventory filter, budget, and maximum bid, among others.

Step 4: Click on “Product Shopping Ad” as you ad for the suggested campaign and create a specific that includes “All products.” 

This marks the successful creation of manual campaigns.

Automatic

Step 1: Once you have successfully linked the MCA and Adwords account, use CampaignService to start a new campaign and set your advertisingChannelType option to ‘Shopping.’

Step 2: Enable a ShoppingSetting object by selecting the merchantId & salesCountry.

Step 3: Create a default AdGroup and select a default ProductPartition. 

Step 4: Include a ProductAd to the curated group and add all the necessary attributes like budget, bidding strategy, and shopping setting. 

Once you are done with the suggested steps, you proceed with saving the settings and checking for the products included in the campaign. Lastly, ensure that you turn on your drive and have your billing on. 

Manage a Shopping campaign with ad groups

Using ad groups is an essential aspect of creating shopping campaigns. It helps you structure and subdivides your campaigns to enable bidding and use bid adjustments for all grouped projects.

The two ways to manage shopping campaigns with ad groups are manual and automatic; here’s a step-by-step to the same. 

Manual

Step 1: Form a new ad group and segregate your campaign over different attributes (as suggested by Adwords).

Step 2: If you want to continue creating sub-categories, continue the process, and develop similar bidding for them. 

Step 3: Once done with the bidding strategies, check the generated .

Step 4: Finally, pause the running campaign to start using the new ad structure.

Automatic

Step 1: Create Shopping Campaign using CampaignService

Step 2: While you are creating your ads using AdGroupService, choose the option of SHOPPING_PRODUCT_ADS when you are setting the adGroupType.

Step 3: Create ProductAd depending on the adGroup type.

Step 4: Use ProductPartition to secure a similar structure like product groups.

Post the management of your shopping campaign with ad groups; it’s time you create product groups for your campaign.

Create product groups

Product groups are necessary to create product ads. Listed below are the ways to help you create product groups in possible ways.

Manual

Step 1: Form an All Products shopping campaign.

Step 2: Once you create a new campaign, you can either create and sub-group new products or continue using the existing product groups over All products. 

Step 3: Once you have subcategories the products, you can also add manual subdivision values in a list format:

  1. Choose the “Bulk add values manually” option.
  2. Create individual subdivisions per line and save the changes.

Step 4: Once done with the settings, set a maximum CPC bid for individual product groups created.

Automatic

Step 1: Use CampaignService and AdGroupService to create shopping campaigns and ad groups, respectively

Step 2: Form a root node for your ProductPartition and set it as ‘Subdivision’ with an id of the root to a temporary value.

Step 3: Once done with the ProductPartition tree, it’s time to create a child node by subdividing the current tree levels

Step 4: Create BiddableAdGroupCriterion and NegativeAdGroupCriterion for every ad group.  

Step 5: Confirm your changes using AdGroupCriterionService. 

The next step to follow is adding filter products in a campaign.

Filter products in a campaign

There might be a situation when you want to chalk out products from your ongoing campaign. Listed below are the ways to do the same:

Manual

Step 1: Create a shopping campaign using the associated Merchant account and by adding the Country of Sale

Step 2: Navigate into ‘Shopping Settings’ and click the ‘Create custom filter.’

Step 3: Once there, select the custom label attribute and input the values.

Automatic

Step 1: Form a campaign using CampaignCriterionOperation with the following:

Step 2: Use ADD to your operation and set your operands as suggested:

  • Set your campaignId.
  • Select the criteria for ProductScope.
  • Set your dimension property to ProductScope over ProductDimension for each filter.

Step 3: Use the mutate method given in CampaignCriterionService for suggesting the list to CampaignCriterionOperation.

Once you form a vast number of campaigns, not everything needs to be maintained simultaneously. Often, you might be required to push the priority of a given campaign. Let’s see more of it in the next section. 

Set up campaign priority

Campaign priority helps you determine your preferable product bid over different shopping campaigns running in the same country. 

Listed below are the steps to set up your campaign priority:

Manual

Step 1: Once you are signed in to your Adwords account, set your campaign using the Adwords experience.  

Step 2:  Now, click on the ‘settings’ that you want to edit

Step 3: Set your campaigns based on priority, High, Medium, or Low and save the settings.

Automatic

Step 1: Create your campaign using CampaignOperation with your operator to SET.

Step 2: Once done, set the operands with the following:

  • Use your id to the suggested campaign ID.
  • Set campaignPriority using the following priority levels:

0 for Low.

1 for Medium.

2 for High.

Step 3: Execute CampaignService using the mutate method and assign the priority over your CampaignOperation objects.

YES, we are almost there; your first campaign is about to be live. However, there are a few more steps to be followed. 

Add negative keywords to a campaign

Adding negative keywords to your campaign allows your ads from reaching out to specific targets. Listed below are the steps to help you in putting up a negative keyword to your campaign.

Manual

Step 1: Set your campaigns based on AdWords experience.

Step 2: Move to the ‘Keywords’ tab -> Negative keywords -> ‘+’ to allow you to choose between ad groups or campaigns.

Step 3: Select your desired ad groups/ campaigns to use those negative keywords and save the entered keywords.

Step 4: Select the desired match type, the options for which include: 

  • Broad match (default)
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match

Automatic

Step 1: Form your campaign using CampaignCriterionOperation and the suggested process:

Step 2: Select your operation to ADD.

Step 3: Select your operand over NegativeCampaignCriterion with the campaignId.

Step 4: Use the criterion to set Keywords by setting your text and matchType.

Step 5: Once done, it’s time to run your operation using the mutate method of CampaignCriterionService for passing it to the list of CampaignCriterionOperation.

Now, you are only one step away from getting your automated campaign up and running. 

6. Campaign Reporting

You need to generate reports over your campaigns over periodic intervals to understand their performance and effectiveness. Listed below is the detailed process to set up reporting for your shopping campaigns.

Manual

Step 1: Sign in with the Adwords account over which you want to generate your reports

Step 2: Understand your Adwords experience and move to the ‘Campaigns’ section.

Step 3: Select any running campaign (with a minimum period of 15 days)

Step 4: Navigate through the Ad groups tab and reach for the Columns button. Once there, go for ‘Conversions’ under ‘Predefined’ column sets and go for the download button.

Step 5: Once there, select your preferred format and download your report.

Automatic

Step 1: Create your report definition setting using the ReportDefinition.ReportType and type PRODUCT_PARTITION_REPORT using the available selectors.

Step 2: Configure your report setting with the use of the reporting configuration utility.

Step 3: Use the report downloader utility to initiate a download request.

Step 4: Schedule the code for the desired reporting.

Note: Choose the campaign that has been running for more than 15 days.

Conclusion

Automating your Google Shopping is easy; all you need to do is follow specific steps. Listed below is a summary of the process:

  • Set up your Merchant Centre Account
  • Set up your product feed
  • Set up your API (essential for automation)
  • Sign in for Adwords
  • Link your Adwords and MCA
  • Create Shopping Campaign
  • Turn on the
  • Time to check the reports

About the author

Karthik Ramachandiran

Google Ads Expert From Bengaluru. Share his Expertise Here