Zombie products in Google Ads

Published at Dec 26, 2023

Zombie products in Google Ads

What are “Zombie” products in Google Ads?

“Zombie” products in Google campaigns (PMAX, Standard Shopping, Dynamic Display, Demand Gen, and YouTube) campaigns refer to products that have not received any impressions or clicks in a specified period, usually 30 days, often due to various factors such as low demand, outdated products, misaligned pricing strategy, inventory forecasting, inventory problems, and poor product feed optimisation. Additionally, Google’s Shopping algorithm prioritizes SKUs that have performed well historically, which can contribute to the lack of visibility for certain products. that said, identifying “Zombie” products is a laboured process which involved anything for Google Ads scripts to data analytics.

“Zombie” products and their consequences

Having zombie products in Google campaigns can negatively impact your Account’s performance. Here are some of the consequences:

  • Lack of visibility
  • Reduced account efficiency
  • Loss of potential revenue
  • Inefficient use of resources
  • Delayed introduction of new products

Identify “Zombie” products by analysing overall performance

In general, identifying the overall product performance in Google Ads involves analyzing various metrics and data points to assess how well your products are performing in your advertising campaigns. In brief, it involves the following:

  • Google Analytics Integration
  • Conversion Tracking
  • Product Groups
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Conversion Rate
  • Cost per Conversion
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
  • Impressions and Clicks
  • Average Order Value (AOV)
  • Quality Score
  • Ad Position
  • Time and Device Analysis

The good thing is that you don’t have to do all of that since you only need to identify the products that have no impressions in the last 30 days.

In order to accomplish this, you will have to:

  • Run a Google Ads script
  • export the data to a google sheet
  • Sort the data
  • Create a supplementary feed with the product IDs and a custom label.
  • Upload the feed to Merchant Center

Now let me walk you through the process

Google Ads scripts consist of JavaScript code snippets that enable the automation and control of your Google Ads campaigns. They serve a range of purposes, including automating internal functions within your Google Ads account, interacting with external data, and executing tasks like bid modifiers, pausing, deleting, third-party data integration, and reporting. These scripts prove invaluable in saving time by automating repetitive tasks, and they are accessible to anyone with a Google Ads account and a basic understanding of JavaScript.

There are two main types of Google Ads scripts: single account scripts and manager account scripts. Single account scripts operate within a specific Google Ads account, while manager account scripts function at the Manager Account level, enabling the execution of scripts across multiple accounts. Manager account scripts offer distinct advantages, such as:

  • Managing all advertiser accounts through a single script instead of creating individual scripts for each account.
  • Retrieving accounts under a manager account using the accounts method.
  • Operating on multiple client accounts simultaneously through the executeInParallel method.

In brief, single account scripts automate tasks within a specific Google Ads account, whereas manager account scripts are designed to automate tasks across multiple Google Ads accounts under a Manager Account.

Currently, there are two available scripts:

  1. The script from Google.
  2. The script from Flowboost.

You have the freedom to choose either one, although I personally favor the second option.

However, the provided scripts are designed for a single account. Therefore, the subsequent instructions are tailored to this specific context.

To install a script into Google Ads, follow these step-by-step instructions for seamless integration:

  1. Access the Script Interface: Navigate to the Google Ads interface and select “Tools & Settings” from the menu. Choose “Scripts” from the options available.

  2. Create a New Script: Click the ”+” button to initiate a new script. This opens the script editor where you can input your custom code.

  3. Paste Your Script Code: Copy and paste your meticulously crafted script code into the editor. Ensure accuracy and relevance to your specific campaign objectives.

  4. Save Your Changes: After pasting the script, click on the “Save” button to preserve your modifications and ensure the script is ready for deployment.

  5. Authorization Permissions: Navigate to the “Authorization” tab within the script interface. Grant the necessary permissions to activate the script and allow it to interact with your Google Ads account.

  6. Schedule Script Execution: Specify the frequency at which the script should run. Configure settings for daily, weekly, or other desired intervals to automate its execution.

By following these straightforward steps, advertisers can effortlessly enhance Google Ads functionality, optimizing campaign performance with customized scripts.

Data sorting

To filter data in Google Sheets, you can use the built-in filtering options to focus on specific information. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Open your Google Sheet: Navigate to the Google Sheet containing the data you want to filter.

  2. Select the Range: Click and drag to select the range of cells that you want to filter. If your data has headers, include them in your selection.

  3. Click on “Data” in the Menu: At the top of the screen, locate the “Data” option in the menu.

  4. Choose “Create a Filter”: In the “Data” menu, hover over “Create a filter” and select it. This action will add filter arrows to the headers of your selected range.

  5. Click the Filter Arrow: For the column you want to filter, click the small filter arrow in the header. This opens a drop-down menu.

  6. Set Filter Criteria: In the drop-down menu, you can choose specific values to display or use conditions to filter the data. For example, you can select specific items, sort in ascending or descending order, or use custom conditions.

  7. Apply Filters: After setting your filter criteria, click “OK” or “Apply filter” to implement the filter. The data in your selected range will be filtered according to your specified conditions.

  8. Remove or Adjust Filters: To remove a filter, click the filter arrow again and choose “Remove filter.” If you want to change the filter criteria, simply modify the selections in the drop-down menu.

By following these steps, you can efficiently filter data in Google Sheets, focusing on the specific information you need for analysis or presentation.

More information about data sorting in Google Sheets

Once you’ve applied the data filter, proceed to generate an additional Google Sheet featuring two columns. One will be for the Product IDs and the other for the custom labels.

Custom labels

Custom labels in product feeds are additional attributes that can be used in Google Ads in order to identify, group, filter, and structure products, allowing for the application of specific product listing ad strategies. For example, custom labels can be used to implement different bid strategies for specific items, such as bidding less for clearance items. T hese labels can be based on various criteria, including brand, release year, best sellers, margin, season, special shipping, and item attributes like color and size. Up to five custom labels, numbered from 0 to 4, can be created, with up to 1,000 different values for each label. Custom labels are for internal use and won’t appear in the Shopping ads themselves. They can be set up using feed rules or supplemental feeds in the Google Merchant Center

More info about custom labels

That said, you should now have a google sheet with 2 columns. In the first column, include the product IDs of the zombie products, and in the second column, assign a custom label with the text “zombie_product” to categorize them accordingly.

Supplemental feed

To create a supplemental feed in Merchant Center, you can follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Feeds section: In Google Merchant Center, click on “Products” on the left-hand menu, and then click on “Feeds”

  2. Add a supplemental feed: Click on “Add Supplemental Feed” to create a new supplemental feed

  3. Name the supplemental feed: Give your supplemental feed a name and choose the relevant Google Sheet

  4. Generate a new spreadsheet: You can generate a new spreadsheet or use one you already created

  5. Link the product ID: When creating your supplemental feed, ensure that the product ID in the supplemental feed is identical to the product ID in the primary feed

  6. Fetch the supplemental feed: The first time you upload the supplemental feed, you must press “Fetch Now” to apply it to the primary feed

  7. Adjust the frequency: You can adjust how often the supplemental feed is fetched using the “Fetch Schedule” option

By following these steps, you can create a supplemental feed in Merchant Center and enrich your primary feed with more data to improve the performance of your Google Shopping campaigns

More info about supplemental feeds

Manage “Zombie” products

You have several options for managing zombie products:

  1. Implement bid adjustments for better control.
  2. Remove zombie products from existing campaigns.
  3. Create new campaigns excluding the zombie products.”

Personally, I recommend leveraging both the third and second options to effectively manage zombie products. The “prudent” approach involves creating an experiment where new campaigns exclude the zombie products, providing a safe testing ground for their performance. On the other hand, the less advisable choice is to directly remove the zombie products from existing campaigns, as this may have immediate effects on the ongoing campaign dynamics and performance. By implementing a cautious strategy and experimenting with the exclusion in new campaigns, you can make informed decisions about the impact of zombie products on your overall advertising strategy.

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