Without keywords to manage your ad placements, finding the right bids for products in Google Shopping seems at least more indirect than bidding for keywords – after all, keywords give you full control over the search queries and devices you would like to target with your ads. But what’s the bottom line when it comes to bidding for keywords and products? Which one really poses the bigger challenge to performance-driven bid management?

Let’s talk about the obvious difference between Google Shopping Ads and Google Text Ads first: For Text Ads, Google allows you to hand-pick the search queries that you would like to use to advertise your products or services. In Google Shopping however, your ads show for all search queries that match your products by default, leaving you with little control over your ad placements.

There are a number of ways for you to influence when your ads are displayed, however. These include measures such as using negative keywords, writing meaningful ad copy in product titles and descriptions – basically, they are about trying to predict Google’s relevancy criteria that determine when your ad is eligible to show. One of the most effective strategies affects bid management more directly: it’s building your campaign structure in a certain way. A highly granular campaign structure allows you to look at the performance of each product individually, and target specific devices and search queries.

So on the one hand, complex campaign structures are necessary to gain control over your products in Google Shopping, which makes product bidding more complex to begin with. On the other hand, products have advantages over keywords that prove valuable in predicting conversion rates and basket values. In highly granular campaign structures, product bids are exclusive to one specific product that we know a lot about. This is a crucial difference between keywords and products – products provide us with much more information.To analyze keyword performance, we look at its position in the campaign hierarchy for instance, at the on-site behavior of users who searched for a specific term and other time-based dimensions. All of this information is also available for products – but in addition, products tell us which category they belong to, their brand, color, size, price and more. A lot of this information is available right when a new product is added to the feed, so it expands the data basis instantly.

Being able to rely on a versatile data basis is brilliant in trying to predict product performance: even though we don’t know with certainty which placements our bids will trigger in Google Shopping, we know a great deal about how products convert. Thanks to detailed information on the product that is – in part – available right from the beginning, we are able to tailor our bids in Google Shopping to every product individually.

In sum, bidding for keywords appears to be a more transparent process that leaves you full control over the search queries and devices you would like to target. With a highly granular campaign structure it is possible to manage products at the lowest possible level and achieve similar results in Google Shopping, however.