Last updated on April 26, 2023

Best practices: Advertising apparel products on Google Shopping

Advertising your apparel products via Google Shopping can be a complex task. Isn’t it frustrating that usually 95% of an advertiser’s apparel products are not shown on Google Shopping? That is why we will explore how you can optimize your shopping (and performance max) campaigns to generate more best-seller products using Producthero’s Shopping Ad Platform.

Challenges of advertising apparel products

When advertising for apparel like clothing and shoes there are almost always different sizes and multiple colors of products. This results in having lots of products that are similar. Moreover, seasonality can play a big role in this category. Often, clothing stores have a new assortment for each season of the year. So, let’s dive into three challenges and the solutions to advertising for clothing.

Three challenges of advertising with apparel products

1. Huge amount of products – resulting in lots of zombies
The apparel category generally has a large assortment, as for each product type multiple products exist. For example, one type of shirt has multiple sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL) and can be available in multiple colors. Each size and color combination is treated as a product in your Merchant Center.  

However, not all sizes/variants are equally wanted. A shirt in size M is probably more popular than the same shirt in size XXS. Because of this, you’ll have lots of Zombies (= products that are sleeping, they barely get any clicks and conversions). So, when you look in the Producthero App, don’t be surprised that 95% of your assortment (or more) is a Zombie (see the image below for an example of a fashion retailer who just created a Labelizer campaign).

2. Internal competition on generic terms
Due to the possibility of having your product in multiple sizes, colors, etc, lots of products will be eligible for the same searches. This can result in internal competition.

For example:
The search term “Brand name + blue top with short sleeves women” can show your brand with blue top A in 5 different sizes, blue top B in 5 different sizes, etc. 

It is a good sign to have multiple products at the top of the results for a generic search query, as shown in the example above (this is definitely what you want to have for your Heroes and Sidekicks), however, it also means that you are competing with yourself. As the titles don’t show the correct size, this might lead to clicks that don’t convert.

3. Seasonal fluctuations lead to fragmented performance data
Seasonal products, such as summer clothing, outdoor recreational equipment, or holiday decorations, experience a surge in demand during specific times of the year. Data collected during the peak seasons may not accurately reflect the overall performance of these products throughout the year. Having peak and low seasons leads to fragmented performance data. For example, summer products perform well during the summer months (these products are your Heroes or Sidekicks). While in winter, sales may drop as demand decreases (and they become Villains or Zombies). 

Furthermore, stores might launch new collections during the different seasons of the year. A new collection (e.g. spring collection) has no performance data, resulting in the entire collection being labeled as a Zombie. In such a period, shops have even more Zombies than they already had. While the business may want to prioritize promoting these products. They might want to try to have a large impression volume on these products, just like you want with your Heroes.

At the same time, the old collection (e.g. winter) goes on sale. During the sale period, these products will be likely to “wake up” and become Heroes, Sidekicks, or Villains. But having these products in different campaigns (one for each label) can give a distorted view of your performance. We have seen that this can result in these products moving to the Heroes campaign, and quickly after that, going out of stock. This resulted in the Heroes campaign performing worse than the Zombies campaign.

Recommendations to optimize your Apparel shopping campaigns 

Recommendation 1: Optimize your apparel’s titles 

Optimizing the titles of your products is especially valuable when you sell many similar products. Similar products are eligible for the same searches. By optimizing and thus enriching their titles, you increase the likelihood of showing for relevant searches. By doing this, you will distinguish each product from another as best as possible. 

We recommend following the tips in this article on why and how you should start optimizing your product titles can be found in this blog, however, here are more specific tips for apparel products:

  1. Describing the color
    While testing your product titles, trying different wordings for colors might be interesting. For example, a blue top might be dark or light blue. If you add a word like ‘teal blue’, it might show less often but increase the relevancy of the search. This is something that you should test to see the results.

  2. Adding fabrics
    For clothing the fabrics matter. This gives consumers information about the durability, quality, appearance, and feeling of what it is like to wear the product. Including this in the product title will help them in their search. It will also improve the visibility of your product when a customer searches for “a blue silk blouse” and yours shows up.

  3. Size of clothing
    A big frustration with shopping for clothing online is when the size that you want isn’t available. That is why it is important to add the size of apparel items to your product title. Adding “medium” to your blue silk blouse will help the consumer to find the right item that fits them well.

  4. Adding gender
    While adding gender to apparel is a common practice in Google Shopping ads it is not always necessary. For example, dresses, lingerie, or bathing suits already create a distinction. One interesting shopping trend to monitor is genderless fashion. It might be interesting to test the effects of removing or adding gender to search terms. A study by Brianna Harlow on similar segments also showed interesting results as products without “women’s” in the title, generated an incremental 5% in revenue per day. Discover her test: What’s In A Name? Building Powerful Product Titles For E-commerce

Using Producthero to optimize your titles

Optimizing your titles can be a time-consuming process. Especially if you have many fashion items. That is why you can see the performance of your products within Producthero. This will help you to choose which titles you should optimize. And even better, if you open the product, it will also give suggestions of attributes to add to your product title. The Producthero Optimizer is available for all customers on Producthero CSS.

Recommendation 2: Separate villains & promotional items

As mentioned before, it is completely normal to have a large share of Zombies. Especially when a new collection is added. It can even be the case that 95% (or more) of your assortment is labeled as a Zombie. Even though this is normal, we offer a Labelizer campaign structure which (among other things) helps you to reduce this share. 

Recommended campaign approach:

Campaign 1: Heroes, Sidekicks and Zombies
We recommend keeping the Heroes, Sidekicks, and Zombies included in your existing campaign. Only remove the Villains from your campaign, more on this is explained in the next paragraph and the case study below.

Campaign 2: Your villains
Villains are products you are losing money on. In other words, they’re your bad-performing products. This is not what you want, so what can be done to make them more profitable? Remove these Villains from your existing (all products) campaign and create a separate campaign for this label. By doing this, you can give this campaign a specific treatment and make sure they become more profitable. Learn how you should treat Villain products by setting the right Target ROAS.

Campaign 3: Boost for new collections or holiday-related products
The third campaign is meant to boost products alongside your existing Labelizer campaign structure. This can be used for seasonal products. For example a new collection, specific holiday-related products (which are sold only temporarily), or sale products. Some examples of how a boost campaign can be used: 

  • The spring collection is added to the assortment. As the collection is new, all products are labeled as Zombies. However, during the launch period, the advertiser wants to boost the collection as much as possible (even more than the heroes). So, a boost campaign is created. Now, the advertiser is in control over how much they want to boost his/her seasonal products. |

    Once the launch period is over and the products have gained performance data, the advertiser decides to pause the boost campaign and include the spring collection in the Labelizer campaigns.
  • Christmas is coming and Christmas-related products are being launched. Again, the collection is new and the advertiser wants to boost the collection as much as possible. A boost campaign is created. These Christmas products have their own campaign during the Christmas period. Once Christmas is over, the campaign is paused and the advertising of Christmas products stops. 

Note: It is recommended that the products you include in your boost campaign, are excluded from your Labelizer campaigns. In this way, you aren’t advertising the same product in multiple campaigns.  

Case study: Adding a Boost campaign

In the case study below you can see an example of a fashion retailer. At first, they had the following campaign structure:

Old campaign structure
1. Heroes & Sidekicks
2. Villains
3. Zombies

The products that had a promotion running were integrated into the Labelizer structure. However, we ran a test campaign in which we changed the structure to the following:

Test campaign structure
1. Heroes, Sidekicks & Zombies
2. Villains
3. Boost sale (Promotional items)

This test ran for a month. In the screenshot, you can see that the total return on ad spend (ROAS) increased. The total number of conversions and conversion value also increased. Of course, we take in mind that seasonality might also impact these numbers so we are running multiple tests to monitor this campaign approach. If you have any campaigns running feel free to contact us to have your examples included.

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