The opportunities Covid brings to the E-commerce world

While most businesses suffered from the effects of Covid, growth still occurred in the e-commerce world. With lockdowns, ordering goods and services online became indispensable. E-commerce raised its share of the global retail trade from 14% in 2019 to 17% in 2020. 

With Covid restrictions waning. The question is, will shoppers’ preference for online shopping continue to grow even after the pandemic restrictions are over? 

The longer the pandemic takes, the more shoppers become accustomed to buying online, so we can expect it to become the new normal. That being said, in some countries we already see a drop in the e-commerce shares in total retail sales after the pandemic peak. The shares after the peak are, however, still higher than the shares before the pandemic.

e-commerce sales during covid

E-commerce sales in all countries increased in 2019 compared to 2018. For most but not all countries, e-commerce sales increased in 2020 compared to 2019. 

Shopping trends during Covid

During Covid, we have come accustomed to working and learning remotely, helping kids with their schoolwork, exercising at home and trading restaurants for cookbooks. These are the product categories that are seeing some of the biggest jumps: 

Electrical devices such as webcams, monitors, computers and laptops became in high demand. By the end of 2020, there was a 26,1% growth in computer sales over the previous year. 

Loungewear and sleepwear sales increased significantly. Working from home caused most people to choose casual and comfortable clothing over a suit and tie. Especially Australia, Brazil, Korea and Italy saw a significant increase in this product category. 

Covid also caused us to get creative in the kitchen. Baking items like food decorating kits, batter mixes and pastry fillings gained popularity.  At the same time, a sales increase in fitness and sporting equipment occurred. Especially exercise-bands gained popularity. 

We often reached for gaming consoles like Playstation to keep us entertained. Gaming hardware, controllers and games saw sales growth around the world. Seasonal products like barbeques, garden furniture, and pools rose, since holidays are still mostly spent at home. 

Not all product categories rose in sales with this pandemic. Travel-related products like suitcases, cameras, and swimwear decreased in sales. 

No one knows what the next year, or even 6 months, are going to look like when it comes to Covid-19. All we can say is that it’s highly likely that global retail will not go back to normal, and we should instead prepare for a new normal. Amidst all the uncertainty, we think it’s safe to say that the e-commerce world will continue to grow, with or without a pandemic. 

e-commerce sales during covid by country

E-commerce sales by country over 2018, 2019 and 2020. Datasource: Eurostat

More shopping trends

The pandemic caused the consumer’s mindset and behaviour to change, making them more conscious of their shopping habits. According to Google, shoppers are influenced by the “buy local, or bye local” campaigns that emerged as a response to the pandemic, resulting in 56% of EMEA holiday shoppers stating they will shop more at local stores this holiday season.

For these reasons, it’s important to show shoppers your in-store inventory if you are a local store owner. To show this and other important store information, like directions to your shop or opening hours, you want to use local inventory ads. If you want to know how to set up local inventory ads for your shop, check out our article about it. 

Common pandemic struggles for retailers

Google states that pandemic-related supply chain challenges are expected to continue. The supply chain challenges are the effect of labor shortages, fluctuating demand and disrupted shipping lanes.

These challenges result in delivery delays and expected stock shortages, so shoppers are paying more attention to product availability before they convert to purchasing a product, and they are using Google Search to get product availability information. 

What can you do as a retailer?

It is important to keep your product availability information up-to-date. If a popular product goes out of stock, consider offering relevant substitutes that could still meet your customer’s needs. Also, make sure to be transparent about your delivery times and possible delays so customers know what to expect. Changes in delivery time after a customer bought your product can result in distrust and damage brand loyalty. 

We hope this article has been helpful.  If you have any questions or need our help with your Shopping ads, please feel free to contact us at any time at css@shoparize.com.

The different types of automated bid strategies

Automated bidding can save you time while optimizing your advertising spend. Machine learning is used in all automated bid strategies to set an optimized bid in every auction.
In this article, we break down 4 automated bidding strategies so you can pick the one that reaches your performance goals.

*In the beginning of 2021, Google reorganized Smart Bidding strategies. All bidding strategies below are still available for your use. 

Important notes 

Please note that you need to have conversion tracking set up to correctly use automated bidding. The only automated bid strategy that does not require conversion data is Maximize Clicks. 

If any issues occur with conversion tracking, you can use data exclusions to make sure that unintended changes in your conversions don’t affect your Smart bidding. With this tool, you can tell Smart bidding to ignore data from dates where conversion tracking issues occurred.

Maximize Clicks, Maximize Conversion Value, and Target ROAS strategies can be used as either a standard strategy in a single campaign or a portfolio bid strategy across multiple campaigns.

If you expect major changes to conversion rates in short periods of time (1-7 days), you can use seasonal adjustments to inform Smart bidding of expected changes in conversion rates for future promotions or sales. 

Automated bidding strategies

Maximize clicks
Maximize clicks positions you to get as many clicks as possible within your budget. You can set this bid strategy for a single campaign or multiple campaigns with the help of a portfolio bid strategy that groups together multiple campaigns. You can set the maximum amount you are willing to pay for each bid using the Maximum CPC bid limit. Use the average daily budget tool to determine the spend for campaigns. Average daily budget sets the amount you are willing to spend each day over the course of the month.

Maximize clicks bidding strategy is only available for standard Shopping campaigns. 

Smart bidding strategies

Enhanced Cost-per-click (ECPC)
This bidding strategy lies in between a manual and an automated bidding strategy. You still control your bids like with manual bidding’s Cost-per-Click (CPC), but your bids are optimized to increase the number of conversions or conversion value within the same total spend. You can use ECPC to optimize conversions which adjusts your max CPC bid to the likelihood of conversions, or conversion value, which adjusts your max CPC bid to the likelihood of high-value conversions. 

ECPC uses auction-time signals, like location and browser, to take different conversion rates for all types of traffic into account.

Maximize Conversion Value
This bid strategy is only available for Smart Shopping campaigns. Working within your specified budget, Maximize Conversion Value optimizes and sets bids to maximize the total conversion value of your campaign. This bid strategy uses historical data from your campaign to determine the best real-time CPC bid for your Shopping ad.

Target ROAS
Target return on ad spend (tROAS) is used to maximize your conversion value at the ROAS you set as a target. Just as with Maximize clicks, you can use Target ROAS as a strategy in a single campaign or for multiple campaigns using the portfolio bid strategy. Target ROAS bids high on user searches that are likely to generate a high-value conversion. 

What is the optimal strategy?

We advise merchants to use smart bidding when possible. Smart bidding strategies for Google Shopping campaigns such as Target ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) and Maximize Conversions value will save you time optimizing your bids and they can increase your campaign performance through machine learning bid algorithms. These algorithms use automated bidding signals such as device, search term and price competitiveness to determine the optimal real time bid in every auction based on historical campaign data.

The only drawback is that your Shopping campaigns need at least 30 conversions in a month to start with smart bidding. The smart bid strategies become more effective with more historical conversion data. Therefore it is advised, when possible, to set a lower target ROAS in the beginning to accelerate the conversion data in your campaign.

When your Shopping campaign has less than 50 monthly conversions, or when you are setting up new campaigns, we advise you to start with manual-enhanced cpc bidding. This gives you more control on your ad spend by setting your max CPC bid. In this way, you can build up conversion data in a cost effective way. As manual bidding is complex and time consuming, we advise you to switch to a smart bidding strategy, like Target ROAS, or set up a smart shopping campaign with the Maximize Conversion value bid strategy as soon as your campaign reaches more than 50 conversions in one month.

There are many ways to meet your performance goals with or without automated bidding strategies. Please note that you can always change your bid strategy after a campaign has launched. 
If you have any questions or want us to help you choose the best bid strategy for your business, contact us today at css@shoparize.com. If you are more interested in working with the managed service model, read this article.

The 2022 essential shopping dates calendar

Since the pandemic continues to encourage shoppers to buy online, holiday-specific promotions and discounts are becoming more important than ever.
Here are essential shopping dates for 2022 so you can prepare accordingly and make 2022 your most profitable year yet.

January

01/01/2022 – New year, new resolutions. Build your campaigns around these resolutions, like offering 30-day challenges, fresh-start kits and special discounts. 

February

14/02/2022 – Love is in the air this month with Valentine’s day. Build your campaign around love and focus on special Valentines day promotions

March

20/03/2022 – Today we welcome the first day of spring! Boost your performance with seasonal promotions and discounts. 

27/03/2022 – Depending on where you live, Mother’s Day may be celebrated this month. In the UK this special day is celebrated on the 27th of March. 

April

17/04/2022 – Easter Sunday puts us in the mood for eggs, easter bunnies and lots of sweets. This is the perfect time to focus on decorative material and themed foods. If that is not something you sell in your online store, you can still use this day for some themed products, campaigns and promotions. 

May

08/05/2022 – For most European countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of May. Make sure to build your campaign around this day and think about Mother’s Day promotions. 

June

All over the world, this month is recognized as Pride Month. Inclusivity and freedom should be themes to be honoured throughout the entire year by paying attention to these themes within your campaigns and promotions.

19/06/2022 – Father’s Day is celebrated on this date in the US, most European countries, Canada, China and Japan. Double-check this date since the date depends on where you are in the world. 

21/06/2022 – This day marks the first day of summer! Boost your performance with this season’s related promotions and discounts. 

July

For most people, July equals summer holidays. Although travel might still be difficult, that doesn’t mean this month cannot be celebrated. Use this to your advantage by focussing on summer promotions or travel-themed products. 

August

Back to school! August is all about preparations for the new school year. Use back-to-school promotions and discounts to focus on school-related products.

September

22/09/2022 – Summer makes room for fall on this day. Take advantage of this by focusing your campaigns and promotions around this season. 

October

31/10/2022 – October is all about Halloween-themed promotions. Use this day for some fun themed campaigns and promotions. 

November

11/11/2022 – Single’s day is rapidly gaining popularity as a celebration for being single and pursuing self-care. This day was originally invented by well-known e-commerce platform Alibaba and quickly caught up to Black Friday. Make sure you mark this essential shopping date in your calendar! 

25/11/2022 – The day all merchants look forward to is Black Friday. Make sure to plan ahead and start preparing your Black Friday campaigns at least a month in advance. 

28/11/2022 – After Black Friday, get ready for Cyber Monday. Some retailers are known for offering even bigger discounts on this day compared to Black Friday. 

December 

21/12/2022 – Fall makes room for winter. Take advantage of this by focusing your campaigns and promotions around this season. 

25 & 26/12/2022 – Christmas is one of the most commercial holidays of the year. Focus your campaigns and promotions on gift-giving, family and love.

31/12/2022 – Wrap up the year with a New Year’s Eve campaign. Focus on special end-of-the-year promotions, and any products that can be used for the new year ahead.

Mark these essential shopping dates in your e-commerce calendar and start planning today! If you want to learn more about getting ready for essential Shopping dates, read this articleRemember, these are the most well-known holidays. Make sure to check any other holiday that might be interesting for your business.

Would you like Shoparize to help you prepare for these important e-commerce days? Reach out to us at css@shoparize.com

The ultimate beginners guide to Google Shopping

Reading time: 8 – 10 minutes

This article explains the basics of Google Shopping CSS, making it the ultimate guide for beginners in the world of Google Shopping. 

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a Google platform that allows shoppers to browse through products from advertisers (merchants) who chose to feature their products on Google’s Shopping platform. As a merchant, you can promote your product offerings, drive traffic to your website or local store, and increase the quality of your leads by participating in Google Shopping. Google Shopping ads show your product offerings in a more visual format, containing a photo, title, price, store name, shipping information, and more.

google shopping

What is a Comparison Shopping Service (CSS)?

A Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) is a website that gathers product offers from online merchants. Shoppers can compare product attributes like price, size, color, and other characteristics. When they choose the product they want to buy, the CSS sends shoppers to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase. CSSs can place Shopping ads on Google in the 21 countries where Google’s CSS program is available on behalf of merchants they represent. Working together with at least one CSS is needed in order to participate in Google Shopping Ads. 

What is a Google Shopping CSS and what is a Google CSS partner?

Google Shopping CSS is Google’s own CSS. Like any other CSS, Google Shopping CSS can place Shopping ads and free listings on Google on behalf of merchants.

Google CSS partners are Comparison Shopping Services that can place Shopping ads and free product listings on Google on behalf of merchants, just like Google Shopping CSS. Companies in the CSS partner Program who have qualified for Partner status are granted the CSS partner badge or the Premium CSS partner badge. Here you can find an overview of all CSS partners.

What is the relationship between Google Shopping and CSS?

If you want to advertise products on Google Shopping, you need to work with at least one CSS partner. A CSS can bid to place Shopping ads on Google on behalf of the merchant. This bidding takes place in the Google ad auction, which determines which ads should show, and takes place every time someone uses Google search or visits a site that contains ads. 

Why do CSS partners exist?

In 2017, the European Commission recognized that Google abused its market dominance as a search engine to give an unfair advantage to its own CSS. In response, Google introduced the CSS partner Program to comply with European legislation on market forces and encourage competition. After Google redesigned its Shopping platform and opened it up to external CSSs, the CSSs that qualified for the Google partner status were granted the CSS partner badge or the Premium CSS partner badge.

The CSS partner and the Premium CSS partner

A Premium Google CSS partner has to meet stricter requirements than the regular CSS partner, like additional technical certifications, and having at least 500 active merchants working with them. Shoparize is proud to be a Premium Google CSS partner. As a Premium Google CSS partner, we benefit from this status by receiving more support from Google through a dedicated support channel, consultation, workshops, training, and more. As a result, Premium Google CSS partners can support their merchants in a better way.

What changed after the introduction of the CSS partner program?

For shoppers, only minor changes were visible. Since the introduction of the CSS partner program, CSSs are featured in the bottom of the Shopping ads, showing they are the source reference and the CSS partner the merchant is currently partnering with. 

CSS partner as a source reference

When shoppers click the Shopping ad, they are redirected to the merchant’s website where they can purchase the product. When shoppers click the featured CSS at the bottom of the Shopping ad, they are redirected to the CSS website where they can compare the product to products from other merchants. 

Who can benefit from Google Shopping?

Merchants of any size and type, looking to place products on Google Shopping in countries part of the European Economic Area (EEA), the United Kingdom, and Switzerland can benefit from Google Shopping. 

How do I start with Google Shopping?

In order to place Shopping ads, you need to have two Google accounts: a Google Merchant Center account and a Google Ads account, which need to be linked together.
The content you want to use to create the Shopping campaigns and ads needs to comply with the Google Shopping ads policies. Furthermore, you need to provide up-to-date product data, which also needs to meet Google’s standard for data quality. This product data needs to be uploaded in a primary feed. To learn more about the primary feed, read this article on our Blog page.

If you are just starting out, this may sound like a lot. But don’t worry! If you decide to work with Shoparize CSS, we create the Google Merchant Center and Google Ads account for you and walk you through all the steps to get started.

What are the different ways of working with a CSS partner?

There are two main ways of working with a Google CSS partner: self-service and managed service. 

With managed service, the merchant receives a Merchant Center and Google Ads account created by the CSS partner. The merchant shares product data with the CSS, and the CSS in turn optimizes the merchant’s feed and manages their campaigns. 

With self-service, the merchant gets access to both the Google Ads and Merchant Center accounts and manages feeds and campaigns themselves.

Shoparize CSS works with a managed service model. To learn more about the managed service model and its benefits, read our article on this topic.

How do I choose the right CSS partner?

We believe in generating incremental sales from working with multiple CSS partners simultaneously. Working with multiple CSSs can be beneficial if you work with the CSS as a managed service model. Working in a managed service model can result in incremental sales by running the CSS’s channel in parallel with other Shopping campaigns. The CSS optimizes the merchant’s product data, resulting in bids on distinct terms and impressions that do not occur in other campaigns. This can lead to more traffic and conversions based on the different bidding strategies.

Do not worry; multiple CSSs can advertise on your behalf, and this will never inflate your CPC’s.

Besides more traffic and conversions, there are numerous benefits to working with a CSS in a managed service model, like time savings, a commission-based revenue model, and complete control over your ROI. Read our article on this topic to learn more. 

To make searching for suitable CSS partners easier, you can benefit from an affiliate network. An affiliate network acts as a liaison between affiliates (CSSs) and merchants. Through an affiliate network, merchants can find a CSS partner that is relevant to their business. 

An affiliate network can help you choose the best CSS partner(s) from their network that suits your target group. 

More questions?

We can imagine you still have some questions. We created a FAQ on our website to answer most of your questions. If you want to learn more about the different aspects of Shopping ads, visit our Blog page. Here you can find articles on various Google Shopping-related topics.

The Shoparize team is also happy to help you with any questions. Feel free to reach out to us at any time at css@shoparize.com.

How to set up Local inventory ads

Reading time: 6 – 8 minutes

If you want to show shoppers your in-store inventory, directions to your shop, opening hours, and more after clicking on your ad or free listing, you want to use local inventory ads. 

With local inventory ads, shoppers arrive on a Google-hosted page for your store after clicking your ad or free listing. This Google-hosted page is also called the local storefront. Nearby shoppers who are searching with Google get to see your products and store information.

If you are a merchant with a local store, you can take advantage of the local inventory ads by promoting your in-store inventory by bringing your local store online with the Google-hosted local storefront. You can also measure performance by monitoring your ads and free local listings’ influence on your online and in-store sales.  

How to set it up?
  1. Set up your accounts

To enable local inventory ads, you need a Merchant Center account, a Google My Business (GMB) Locations account, and a Google Ads account. 

Chances are you already have a Merchant Center and Google Ads account. If not, Shoparize CSS is happy to help you with this. Feel free to contact us at css@shoparize.com. 

If you already have a Google My Business Locations account, you can skip this step. If not, please follow the instructions on this Google support page to make a location group, which is the first step to create a Google My Business Locations account.

Next, you need to upload your store information in bulk by creating your bulk upload spreadsheet. You can follow the steps in this Google support page to create your spreadsheet.

After setting up your Google My Business Locations account, link the account and your Google Ads account to your Merchant Center. Also, make sure to link your Merchant Center and Google Ads account. If you need more information about linking these two accounts, please read our article about it

  1. Enable local inventory ads

To enable local inventory ads in your Merchant Center, follow these steps:

  • After signing into your Merchant Center account, click Growth
  • Then, click on Manage programs

manage programs in Merchant Center

  • Find the local inventory ads card and click Get started

local inventory ads

  • Now you can choose the country where your stores are located
  1. Add business information

You can add the name of your store when you are setting up your account. This is the name that shoppers will see in your local inventory ads. 

  1. Link your Google My Business account and select location group

To link your Google My Business and Google Ads account, please follow the steps in this Google article.

After linking your accounts, you need to select a location group. The location group will be chosen automatically if only one Google My Business location group is available across all linked GMB accounts. If this is not the case, you can also manually add business location groups. Please follow the steps at the bottom of the Google article just mentioned to complete this step. 

  1. Feeds

First, you need to create a primary feed. If you already have a primary feed, you can opt-in for local inventory ads via the primary feed settings in the Merchant Center. It is recommended to submit both of your online and local product offers in a single feed. 

If you do not have a primary feed yet, you can create one in the Merchant Center using our article about this topic. You can also visit this Google article for an example of a primary feed for local inventory ads.

Next, you will want to create a local product inventory feed. You can do so by following the steps in this Google article.

You will also want to register and submit local feeds. Your local feeds probably reside in your primary feed. If your primary feed is already registered, you do not have to register it again. If you have not registered your feed yet, you can follow the steps in this Google article to register.

  1. Your “About” page

This step is for merchants in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland only. If you are not located in one of these countries, you can skip this step. If you are, please follow the steps in this Google article to verify your About page.

  1. Inventory verification

The inventory verification check helps Google verify if the products in your physical store match the inventory information you have submitted. To set up inventory verification, you need to submit your inventory verification contact, which is a person who works with Google to coordinate verification.
After submitting your contact, you need to request the inventory verification. Google reviews your submitted feeds. This can take up to 7 days.

The steps you need to take for inventory verification need to be done in the Merchant Center. For step-by-step instructions, please visit this Google article.

  1. Shopping campaigns

The last step is to enable local products in your Shopping campaigns. You can do this by logging into your Google Ads account and navigating to your existing Shopping campaign. 

Follow these steps to enable ads for products sold in local stores (this works the same way for Smart Shopping campaigns):


Step 1: navigate to Additional settings in Settings after clicking on your Shopping campaign in Google Ads.

additional settings in Shopping campaign

Step 2: Additional Shopping campaign settings will appear. Find Local products in your Shopping campaign settings.

local products in Shopping campaign settings

Step 3: Enable ads for products sold in local stores and click Save.

enable local products

These are all the steps you need to set up local inventory ads. If you have any questions or need our help with your local inventory ads, please feel free to contact us at css@shoparize.com.

Can I work with multiple CSS partners?

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

The short answer is yes. If you would like to know how this works, keep on reading to learn more about working with multiple CSS partners.

Why work with multiple CSS partners?

The most prominent reason to work with multiple CSS partners is to generate incremental sales. You may run any CSS channel in parallel with your existing campaigns. You can leverage the CSS’s expertise to optimize your product data and bid on distinct terms and impressions that do not occur in other campaigns. This is especially a great benefit if you have a high-variety product inventory, because you can choose a CSS for each specific product field based on their area of expertise, services, and charging models. Also, if you sell products to different customer segments or within different geographic regions, tailoring your campaigns to these specifics with multiple CSS partners is a great solution.

Please note that these benefits only apply to a managed service model, since that is the only service model that allows CSSs to manage and optimize your product feed for you. The CSS managed service model runs in parallel with in-house Google Shopping activity. With this service model, the Google CSS partner manages the Google Shopping campaigns on behalf of the merchant. The managed service model is typically set-up on a Cost-per-sale (CPS) payment model through an affiliate network. This arrangement can lead to additional shoppers and sales without competing with your current campaigns.

Furthermore, your products will be visible on multiple CSS websites, which can result in more traffic to your website.

Will I end up paying more if multiple CSSs place my Shopping ads?

This is one of the most common questions we receive from merchants regarding this topic. The answer is no. Google will not charge higher CPCs if a merchant is working with multiple CSSs. The bid price you pay is always based on the next best bid by a competitor.

Let’s say your CSS partner enters the Google auction and bids €0,25 on your behalf, and that bid wins the Google ad auction. Now let’s assume the next highest bid from a competitor is €0,20. This means you will pay €0,20 if someone clicks on your ad.

If your bids are placed in the same auction by a different CSS partner, Google will recognize it’s you and ignore these bids. This means you will never bid against yourself. Even if another CSS partner places a bid of €0,22 on your behalf, you will still pay the bid price of the next best bid by a competitor, in this case €0,20.

This is how Google explains their auction process: “A merchant will never be second-priced against itself in the auction for any offer, and that rule holds irrespective of the number, or identity, of the CSSs used by the merchant. Therefore, if two CSSs place bids on behalf of the same merchant, the winning offer and the price paid by the winning CSS will be the same as if those bids had been placed by one and the same CSS”. Google support” 

working with multiple css partners

How to get started

To find CSS partners that meet your needs, you can either use Google’s Comparison Shopping Partner portal or join an affiliate network. An affiliate network acts as a liaison between affiliates (CSSs) and merchants to help you choose the best CSS partner(s) from their network. Through the affiliate network, merchants can find CSS partners that are relevant to their business. Shoparize CSS currently partners with the following affiliate networks: AWIN, Webgains, TradeTracker, Partnerize, and Daisycon. Learn more about affiliate networks in this article.

What does working with a CSS managed service model on an affiliate network look like?

The CSS(s) that you choose will create a new Google Merchant Center account for you. You can then provide your product data and choose to make your entire product feed available or use a custom feed if you want to use this CSS for a specific product category. The CSS will optimize your product feed and manage your campaigns.

Shoparize shares campaign data and auction insights with you. You can also retrieve data about additional turnover, profit and incremental sales.

The CSS partner pays for the traffic that the Shopping campaigns send to the merchant’s webshop. After a sale has been completed on the merchant’s website, the CSS partner receives compensation through the performance-based CPS (or No cure, No pay) payment model. This compensation is made through the affiliate network interface.

How can you apply these benefits to your webshop?

Shoparize CSS is easy to set up through your affiliate network. You only need to accept Shoparize as a publisher to your affiliate program. A test period will show how much incremental revenue Shoparize CSS can generate for you on top of your current Shopping activities.

Learn more about working with multiple CSS partners in the managed service model by an affiliate network in this case study. You can read all about how Conrad enjoyed the full benefits of Shoparize’s managed CSS service and find out how Shoparize CSS did not cannibalize with a second Google Shopping account.

Take advantage of these benefits with Shoparize CSS. Allow Shoparize to help grow your business by improving the performance of your Google Shopping campaigns. Make the switch today, by following the steps in this article or sending an email to css@shoparize.com.

Working with Shoparize CSS managed service via an affiliate network – A complete guide

In this article, we will explain the benefits of working with Shoparize CSS managed service model within an affiliate network.

Introducing Shoparize

We are Shoparize – a Premium Google CSS partner offering managed service CSS. Shoparize was founded in 2013 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where the company started as the price comparison website Kiesproduct.nl. The 2017 court ruling regarding Google’s monopolistic practises seen throughout the EU gave Shoparize a platform to rise above the standard industry sales proposition leading to superior customer service for our merchants. In that same year, we became one of the first CSSs to be accepted into the Google CSS partner program.

As a result, Shoparize quickly became an international player, being active in all of the 21 countries where Google’s CSS program is available. Today, Shoparize accounts for 23% of the Benelux region’s market share. 

The difference between Managed and Self-service 

There are two main ways of working with a Google CSS partner: self-service and managed service. 

With self-service, the merchant gets access to both the Google Ads and Merchant Center accounts and manages feeds and campaigns themselves.

With managed service, the merchant receives a Merchant Center and Google Ads account created by the CSS partner. The merchant shares product data with the CSS, and the CSS in turn optimizes the merchant’s feed and manages their campaigns. 

What’s an affiliate network?

So, what is an affiliate network? An affiliate network acts as a liaison between affiliates (CSSs) and merchants. Through an affiliate network, merchants can find a CSS partner that is relevant to their business. 

An affiliate network helps you choose the best CSS partner(s) from their network that suits your target group. Working with multiple CSSs can be beneficial if you work with the CSS as a managed service model. Working in a managed service model can result in incremental sales by running the CSS’s channel in parallel with your existing Shopping campaigns. The CSS optimizes the merchant’s product data, resulting in bids on distinct terms and impressions that do not occur in other campaigns. This can lead to more traffic and conversions based on the different bidding strategies.

Besides more traffic and conversions, there are numerous benefits to working with a CSS in a managed service model.

The advantages of a Managed CSS service 
Incremental sales

Are you already running Google Shopping campaigns?
Perfect! This means we can deliver incremental sales by running our Shoparize CSS channel in parallel with your existing campaigns. Using our expert insights and market knowledge, we will optimize your product data, which results in bids on distinct terms and impressions that do not occur in your other campaigns. Do not worry; multiple CSSs can advertise on your behalf, and this will never inflate your CPCs.

Commission based sales only

Within managed service, it is possible to work with a commission-based model. With this model you only pay for actual sales, not clicks or impressions that don’t increase your ROI. This performance-based way of working ensures that a campaign generates sufficient return, which is better than a fluctuating CPC model.  

Increased visibility on Google Shopping

Merchants report better visibility for their webshop and higher total revenue from Google Shopping when they use a managed service model by running their Shopping campaigns in parallel with multiple Google CSS partners

Shoparize manages feed & campaigns

Working with a managed service is convenient and saves time. You can hand over your entire Google Shopping campaign and trust Shoparize to run your Shopping campaigns successfully for you. 

CPC will not increase

Your CPCs will not increase due to working with multiple CSSs, because you will never compete against yourself when working with multiple CSSs. If there are two or more CSSs placing a bid on your behalf, the winning offer and price paid by that CSS will be the same as if the bid was placed by only one CSS. For more information on this topic, read our article or our case study on this topic or visit this Google support page.

Remain in full control over your ROI with transparent analysis

Set your desired CPA (cost per acquisition) commission (%) for Shoparize CSS, so that you retain control of your ROI in Google Shopping. You can find transparent analysis in Google Analytics which measures the additional value (additional turnover, profit and incremental sales). Upon request, we can share a campaign performance evaluation of your results. 

Not convinced? Test it first!

Most merchants make their entire product feed available for a CSS’s managed service model. But if you want to test the model first, you can start with a custom feed, such as a feed containing lower-priority product groups. If you are considering working with Shoparize CSS, you can give us the specific feed you want to use for managed CSS — this can be different from the standard affiliate feed.

The advantages of working with Shoparize CSS managed service

You can expect the following benefits from Shoparize’s feed and campaign management:

  • Product title optimization based on search data from Google
  • We will generate higher quality scores in Google Shopping with continuous updates to product data within our database that contains over 60 million products.
  • Bidding strategy optimization based on product price (lowest price), search term, device, location, and productEAN, to stay competitive with other advertisers.
  • Audience targeting to optimize Shopping ads with about half a million monthly unique user data from our CSS websites. 
What does working with a CSS managed service model on an affiliate network look like?

The CSS partner of your choice will set up a Merchant Center for you and manage the product feed that you make available on the affiliate network. The CSS partner uses your product feed to create Shopping ads to bid in the ad auction on your behalf. 

You can have a new campaign up and running on Google Shopping within 1–2 weeks. Contact your CSS account manager to discuss your campaign’s performance to make the necessary adjustments. Shoparize shares campaign data and auction insights with you, and you can retrieve data about additional turnover and profit, and incremental sales.

The CSS partner pays for the traffic that the Shopping campaigns send to the merchant’s webshop. After a sale is completed on the merchant’s website, the CSS partner receives compensation through the performance-based (or No cure, No pay) business model. 

This compensation is made through the affiliate network interface. 

Conclusion

The main reason for merchants to use a managed service is to increase reach and turnover while saving time. It is best to collaborate with one or more CSS partners alongside your own Google Shopping campaigns to drive incremental sales.

The affiliate network matches you with a CSS that has a portfolio of campaigns within a similar industry as you, therefore you can count on relevant expertise from your CSS partner. The risk remains low because you can choose to test the services of a CSS by starting with a custom feed or taking advantage of the trial period.

Payment is based on a performance model of actual sales. This ensures sufficient return on your investments. 

In conclusion, working with a CSS managed service through an affiliate network is a win-win situation! If you are interested in joining an affiliate network, check out our partners: AWIN, Webgains, TradeTracker, Partnerize, and Daisycon

We hope this article has been helpful. If you have any questions regarding Shoparize’s managed service model, feel free to reach out to us at css@shoparize.com.

Google lessons from Conrad – working with multiple CSS partners

Reading time: 6-8 minutes

* This article about working with multiple CSS partners is a direct translation from the original, Dutch version which can be found on the Emerce website. In this article, you can find references to Kiesproduct, which is Shoparize’s Dutch brand name.

During the search for a Google CSS partner, you come across terms like discount and cashback. Usually, they are talking about a Google CSS partner’s self-service model. With a self-service model, merchants can save Shopping ads costs directly due to the 20% bid advantage

But what is the managed service model through which shopping activities are partly outsourced to a CSS partner? Does this have added value for your client? In most of the situations, it can even lead to more revenue and a higher ROAS from Google Shopping, as it did for Conrad as well.

What is Google CSS managed service?

There are several ways in which a Google CSS partner and a merchant can work together. One of the well known strategies is that merchants advertise in Google Shopping through a self-service model, whereby merchants stay in control of their Merchant Center and the Merchant Center is linked to a Google CSS partner. At all times, the merchant manages their Shopping campaigns and billing from their Google Ads account. 

Most of the time, merchants also use a Managed service model which runs in parallel with their in-house Google Shopping activity. With this service model, the Google CSS partner manages the Google Shopping campaigns and billing on behalf of the merchant. 

Since the Google CSS partner also finances the campaigns, they are reimbursed based on CPC (Cost-per-Click), CPS (Cost-per-Sale) or Adspend model. The most popular is CPS, because this no cure no pay model is the most transparent collaboration as it does not involve any risk for the merchant. This collaboration on CPS is usually set-up through affiliate networks and can lead to additional shoppers and sales without competing with the merchant’s current campaigns.

You don’t want cannibalization

It is assumable that you would compete against yourself with an extra Google Shopping campaign. That is not desirable. That is why we examined how Google CSS partner’s campaigns influence their own Google Shopping performance. 

Does bidding against each other really take place when working with multiple CSS partners? Are clicks and sales being hijacked by Google CSS partners, or in other words, was there cannibalization? 

We had to put this to the test. There are enough theoretical articles about this subject, but we could not find any concrete customer cases that support this. That is why we, together with Conrad, launched Google Shopping campaigns via our Premium CSS partner Shoparize. These campaigns ran beside the Shopping campaigns from Conrad via Google CSS. 

You never compete with yourself

In the official source documentation, Google shows how the Google Shopping auction introduces Google CSS partners in the equation. Google designed a second-price auction in which a merchant can never compete against itself with the same bid and working with multiple CSS partners. Google also answers the question: Do I have to pay more for Shopping ads if multiple CSSs advertise on my behalf?

Google’s answer is: “A merchant will never be second-priced against itself in the auction for any offer, and that rule holds irrespective of the number, or identity, of the CSSs used by the Merchant. Therefore, if two CSSs place bids on behalf of the same merchant, the winning offer and the price paid by the winning CSS will be the same as if those bids had been placed by one and the same CSS”. Google support” 

Bids by multiple CSS partners

Besides Conrad’s Google Shopping campaigns, Shoparize managed a campaign being the only Google CSS partner for Conrad, based on identical product feed. For a period of eight weeks, we tested the following assumptions:

  • Does Google Shopping CSS managed-service model result in incremental sales?
  • What happens to the ROAS when two Google Shopping campaigns advertise for the same website?
  • Does the performance of your own Google Shopping account suffer from working with a Google CSS managed-service?

The test is evaluated based on the customer’s KPI’s: revenue and ROAS (where the costs are equal to the own Google Ad Spend plus the CPS fee paid to Shoparize CSS).

On top of that, we evaluated the transactions based on Google Analytics 360’s last click. To assess the results, we provide insight into revenue and ROAS per week.

Revenue and ROAS with multiple css partners
The red curve shows revenue and the blue bars show ROAS.

The results are very positive. Both the revenue and the ROAS increased significantly in the test period. At first glance, there is no question of cannibalization. 

The positive test results can be explained in different ways. Did Shoparize focus on the end of the funnel to, for instance, advertise EAN codes and product names? Did Shoparize focus on high-priced products or rather on products with a low order value, like the wide range of Conrad’s LED lights? 

The answer to these questions is “no”.
The assisted conversions from Shoparize’s campaigns were even higher, despite leaving out “Conrad” in the search terms. 

The assisted conversions were an important factor in the results because the results were initially evaluated on the last click, which does not always tell the complete story.

How does Conrad (Shoparize CSS) vs Conrad (own Shopping campaign) relate in the Google Shopping auction? 

To get a realistic view of signs of cannibalization, we further investigated the auction statistics from the Shoparize CSS Google ads account. 

This shows that Shoparize CSS is responsible for an impression share of 16,02%. The impression share of Conrad’s campaigns is higher, namely 45,26%. You would think that Conrad has the highest impression share, but that is not the case. It appears Conrad has multiple competitors who take on a considerable impression share in the auction.

The outranking share is only 11,97%

Conrad is represented in 34,43% of Shoparize’s Impression share in the same auction. Shoparize’s outranking share in comparison to Conrads is only 11,97%. The outranking share shows how many times your ad is placed in a higher position than another contestant, how many times your ad is shown while the contestant ad is not, divided by the total amount of ad auctions where you participated in. 

overlap rate and outranking share with multiple css partners

Blue shows “overlap rate”, light green shows “outranking share”, and dark green shows “without overlap”.

Based on these statistics, we can draw the following conclusions:

  • About 53,60 – 65,57% of the Shoparize CSS traffic from Google Shopping for Conrad could never be generated by Conrad itself. Simply because they were not part of the auction. The sales resulting from this are completely attributed to Shoparize’s shopping campaigns. We can speak of verifiable incremental sales.
  • From the overlapping Shoparize traffic of 34,43%, the vast majority did not go to Conrad. However, it is hard to give an exact percentage because numerous big players were active in the auction. With Shoparize, Conrad increased visibility in the auction because Conrad would never obtain the same amount of clicks when entering the auction only with Google CSS. 
  • Because Shoparize CSS realized higher positions than Conrad, you would assume Conrad missed out on sales due to Shoparize. This is not the case because multiple contestants in the auction also obtained higher positions than Conrad. If Shoparize had not participated in the auction, this traffic probably would not have gone to Conrad, but a competitor. 
  • Of the 34,43% Shoparize CSS traffic, little overlap occurred with Conrad. Because multiple advertisers show similar impression shares / outranking shares with Shoparize CSS, it is highly unlikely that Shoparize competes more with Conrad than with other advertisers. Furthermore, there is no indication that Conrad’s and Shoparize’s ad positions are directly related. 

impression share, overlap rate, outranking share with multiple css partners

Conclusion: Does cannibalization happen, or can you safely profit from managed CSS service?

Conrad enjoyed the full benefits of Shoparize’s managed CSS service and, for the most part, Shoparize CSS did not cannibalize with a second Google Shopping account. Based on the test results, we can conclude that Shoparize CSS generated incremental sales and an increase in revenue. Furthermore, Conrad benefitted from a higher ROAS from Google Shopping, more Conrad.nl visitors, and extra visibility in Google Shopping.

How can you apply this case to your webshop?

Shoparize CSS is easy to set up through your affiliate network as you only need to accept Shoparize as publisher to your affiliate program. A test period will show how much incremental revenue Shoparize CSS can generate for you on top of your current Shopping activities. For the performance, factors such as commission percentage, cookie length, and attribution are very important.

The attribution model you choose, last click or linear, will significantly influence your final evaluation.

The commission percentage you choose also influences your performance. Increasing your commission percentage results in more competitive bids in the Google ads auction, resulting in higher rankings, more traffic, and ultimately more sales.

In preparation for a test, it is advised to execute an EAN-overlap analysis. This way, you can map competitors that enter the auction with a similar product feed.

Take advantage of these benefits with Shoparize CSS. Allow Shoparize to help grow your business by improving the performance of your Google Shopping campaigns. Make the switch today, by following the steps in this article or sending an email at css@shoparize.com. To learn more about working with multiple CSS partners, read our article on this topic.

This case study was realized with the help of Conrad, Budgetverf, Hunkemoller, Daisycon and Shoparize. You can find the original, Dutch version of this case study on the Emerce website

Switching from Google Shopping CSS to a CSS partner – changes in support and the Merchant Center

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

If you worked with Shopping ads before the introduction of the CSS Partner program, you probably received help from a Google account manager. Things changed when Google launched the CSS program, and Google account managers were no longer able to assist merchants with their Shopping ads. Because Google Shopping CSS became a separate Google business after the antitrust violations in 2017, even merchants working with Google Shopping were assigned to another account manager representing Google Shopping CSS. 

Thanks to a waiver, Premium CSS partners like Shoparize still receive support from Google account managers. Through this waiver, Shoparize can still ask questions related to Shopping ads and communicate the answers to their merchants. As a merchant, you want to commit to a CSS — like Shoparize — that has this CSS Premium partner status. Premium CSS partners receive more support from Google and can therefore better support their merchants. 

Issues like policy violations, disapprovals, and account suspensions can be treated by either your CSS partner or Google Shopping ads support. Google Shopping ads support still supports merchants with issues like these via their Google Ads Help form. You can also find many frequently answered questions, guides, and checklists on the Google Ads support page.

The bottom line is that Shoparize CSS is a Premium CSS partner. Merchants can count on operational and strategic support and receive Google’s support through Shoparize CSS. 

What exactly changed?

Unless merchants have questions about or need help with account-related issues, they no longer receive hands-on Shopping support from a Google account manager. The merchant’s CSS partner helps the merchant with all other matters within operational and strategic support, including campaigns, performance, and new features. This applies equally to  merchants who advertise through Google Shopping CSS and those who do not. Both receive support from their Google CSS support team rather than directly from a Google account manager. The support structure is therefore the same with a CSS partner as with Google Shopping CSS.

Google still supports Premium CSSs through a dedicated support channel (waiver). Premium CSS partners like Shoparize receive more support from Google than non-Premium partners. The benefits include consultation, workshops, training, and more. As a result, Premium Google CSS Partners can support their merchants more effectively. 

What changes in the Merchant Center?

In the top-right corner of your Merchant Center account, you can see which CSS you are currently using to place Shopping ads on Google’s general search result pages. When you change from Google Shopping CSS to a CSS Partner, you can verify that the change is completed when the new CSS replaces the old one in the top-right corner.

Conclusion

Whether you are working with Google Shopping CSS or a CSS partner, the support structure is the same. The merchant’s CSS partner handles all operational and strategic support. As mentioned, a Premium Google CSS partner receives more support from Google and can therefore better support its merchants. It is key to check if the CSS partner you plan to commit to is a Premium partner. 

Shoparize CSS is a Premium CSS partner, which means Google support will remain active through Shoparize. We have a skilled team of experienced account managers who are always available to help. We provide support for feed and campaign optimization and for all questions and issues, including 24/7 troubleshooting. If you would like to learn how to switch your account from one CSS to another, read our article on this topic. If you are ready to switch to Shoparize CSS, follow the steps in this article or reach out to us. 

If you have any questions about this topic, or to receive more information about Shoparize’s support, please reach out to us at css@shoparize.com.

How to create a multi-client account (MCA)

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

What is a multi-client account?

You will receive a new multi-client account (MCA) when you convert to an advanced account setup. With a Google Merchant Center advanced account setup, you can submit data feeds for multiple domains at a large scale as an individual or company. This basically means that you can upload feeds to multiple Google Merchant accounts with one multi-client account. 

Should you convert to an advanced account setup?

Most merchants will not need a multi-client account. This account is designed for managing multiple sellers and domains at a large scale. An advanced account setup may benefit you if any of the following apply:

  • You are an international retailer selling a product brand internationally. Your sales could be on one or multiple domains and online or in physical stores.
  • You are a merchant owning multiple brands and selling products on multiple domains, either online or in physical stores.
  • You identify as a marketplace — a platform where multiple merchants can sell their products.
  • You are an advertising agency consulting to merchants on SEO. You may occasionally create advertising campaigns for the merchants.
  • You are a store-builder platform that enables merchants to present and sell products by setting up an online store.
  • You are a channel partner enabling merchants to present their product offers on multiple channels.
How can you convert to a multi-client account?

To convert to an advanced account setup and receive a multi-client account, you must be an account admin. If you are not sure about your account access level, read this article to learn more. Please note that you cannot request conversion if your account is already a multi-client account or is a sub-account within a multi-client account. Your request will be rejected if you have an account-level policy violation.

Steps to convert to an advanced account:

  1. After logging in to your Merchant Center account, navigate to the Tools icon, Settings, Account settings.

account settings in Google Merchant Center   

  1. Click Advanced account setup on the Account settings page.
  2. Click Request conversion.
  3. Choose the options that most accurately describe your business. You can find the business definitions under “Should you convert to an advanced account setup?”
  4. Click Request conversion.

Please note that requests can take a few days to complete. If you want to check the status of your request, you can do so in the Account settings page. 

You will receive a new MCA when you convert to an advanced account setup. This means that your current Merchant Center account will transfer to a sub-account of this MCA.

How can I verify and claim my website under a multi-client account?

Google recommends that MCA owners verify and claim the website URL using the advanced account setup’s parent account login email. The top-level domain must usually be verified and claimed by the parent MCA.

To learn how to verify and claim URLs specifically for sub-accounts linked to multiple websites or sub-account URLs that are sub-hosts under the MCA claimed URL tree, visit this Google support page.

We hope this article has been helpful. If you are unsure whether you need a multi-client account, or if you need help with the setup, please feel free to contact us at any time at css@shoparize.com.