Google Shopping has transformed the online retail industry and connected products with customers like never before. However, and in spite of advances like Google Smart Shopping (GSS), it remains unwieldy and its complexities leave online retailers facing a choice: 

  1. Upload your product feed into GSS and trust in automation.
  2. Dedicate resources to adopting a more targeted, manual approach and assume the risks inherent in doing so.
  3. Outsource to a Google Shopping agency and become entirely reliant on external support.

While any of these approaches can deliver results, they each come with significant drawbacks. Put differently, the way most organisations incorporate the platform into their digital marketing efforts is suboptimal. And that’s without even mentioning the imminent arrival of Performance Max campaigns.

With these complications to consider, many online retailers make the choice of outsourcing the heavy lifting to an agency. However, compared to Upp, an automated, AI and data-driven intelligence platform, an agency can only provide so much. In this blog we’ll take you through why Google Shopping agencies fall short while Upp takes Google Shopping management to the next level.

Why people use Google Shopping agencies

There are, in base terms, two main reasons to outsource Google Shopping campaign management:

  1. Results: Agencies are generally populated with Google Shopping experts who know what works based on best practice. When things go to plan, that means greater return on ad spend (ROAS) and return on investment (ROI) than would be possible via a strained in-house or solely automated operation.
  2. Efficiency: Succeeding with Google Shopping ads can be a labour-intensive endeavour. If you lack the necessary resources and insight, you could quickly find yourself in difficulty.

So, is appointing a PPC agency the way to go? Perhaps. While these are compelling grounds to seek outside input, there’s more to the story. The fact that someone else could do something better than you or that using an agency is the norm does not necessarily mean that there isn’t a better way to achieve success.

The obstacle standing between online retailers and those results is people. There is simply too much data for our brains to manage, interpret, and apply on our own. So, what happens in the context of an agency is that the people responsible for managing your campaign structure turn to best practice, which may or may not be current. Furthermore, this is often applied at category, not SKU level. 

This may be an improvement compared to the results you could produce yourself, but it would never be at an ideal level of insights. That ideal level being able to control your Google Shopping work at a granular level. 

This involves utilising an extreme amount of data that can only realistically be done with technology. With the right platform, it can be performed now.

Agencies that only use Smart Shopping and Google data aren’t enough

If you reached the conclusion of the previous section and thought ‘that sounds like GSS’ then you’re right. To a certain extent at least.

Thanks to GSS, it’s never been easier or faster to update shopping feeds in the Google merchant centre and enjoy results. Powerful automation means the system is always seeking the best possible outcome for your products.

However, it’s an imperfect system. And here’s why:

  • It’s a ‘black box’: You’ll always know the outcomes of a GSS campaign. You’ll just never know what it’s doing or why. This is fine when you’re hopeful of some payoff. It’s inadequate when you’re striving for the very best results.
  • Data is siloed: GSS understands perfectly what happens on the platform but it doesn’t care much for the results your own in-store and online efforts are generating. For example, the platform might, as a consequence of its own insight, continually overlook your best-sellers from your ecommerce store.
  • Google sets the priorities: Google Shopping uses conversion data to make decisions — and little else. When it acts in what it feels is the best way to generate a sale, it may succumb to flawed judgement. For example, it might promote a product that is low in inventory ahead of one you’ve recently introduced.

Suggested reading: Ready for a deep dive? Check out this article on how to overcome Google Shopping limitations.

Agencies will quite often turn to GSS to complement their own efforts and this isn’t necessarily a problem. By automating some of the workload, agencies can focus on specific SKUs and/or product lines and that deals with some of the issues outlined above. However, this approach cannot deliver maximum ROI. It’s also not ‘night-and-day’ different from just using GSS. Your agency will not always be proactive due to time and resource constraints and will only change, correct, and update your campaigns when they can or when you escalate things to them.

Google Shopping Upp Augmentation

This is where Upp comes into focus. Our platform uses AI to augment — not replace — the GSS experience and it does so by placing a more complete data set to continuously optimise your product and campaign structures based on your target parameters and thresholds.

How Upp complements Google Shopping

Upp takes existing Google insights and supplements them with multiple product performance data points. This, in effect, supercharges your GSS campaign by removing inefficiencies and enabling laser-focussed spending. This is true, SKU-level marketing.

Suggested reading: Keen to dig deeper? Take a look at this article on the impact of SKU-level analysis.

However, it doesn’t just optimise your campaigns. It tracks and shares every intervention to provide full visibility of the process and its impact on your product lines. This enables users to make and implement informed, data-driven decisions. 

The best part? It’s just as easy to make a product listing on Upp as it is on GSS so you retain all that valuable automation, convenience, and insight. 

This setup provides a host of advantages over appointing an agency. These include:

  • Total control and visibility: Using Upp means you are beholden to nobody. You won’t be limited to making decisions on the information an agency decides to share. This is your platform and all the insights sit with you. You dictate the direction.
  • Immediate impact: A data-driven approach means you’ll see ROI straight away. In fact, it can take as little as two weeks to learn enough about your account performance to execute your strategy. With an agency, that could take months.
  • Next-level optimisation: The extra data that Upp analyses to enrich your Google Shopping services means you stand a much greater chance of getting the most from your ad budget while maintaining ROAS and CPA.
  • Always-on: Agency operating hours are dictated by what’s humanly possible. We appreciate some people go above and beyond but ultimately nothing can compete with an effective, 24/7 system. 
  • Consistency: If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the workforce is fragile; despite every agency’s best efforts to make you feel otherwise, you will never be their only client. Our intelligent AI platform never skips a beat. 

All this is to say that, no matter what agency you choose, there is only so much they can provide in comparison to what Upp can do for you in the here and now, and future. 
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Using Upp to power human decision-making with AI

Although manual teams alone can struggle to create and manage a truly efficient Google Shopping campaign, they are still essential to the wider process. What needs to change is the way people approach the problem. It’s not just unrealistic to think that the human mind can cope with the volume and frequency of data interactions involved in creating an optimised campaign — it’s fanciful.

Provide marketers with the resources they need to interpret and engage data and things look very different. Upp delivers full visibility and granular control over ad spend and the consequent results. Better still, it does it in an intuitive way that builds on all the GSS features companies have come to rely on.

And that means retailers no longer need to be overwhelmed by the platform or future technology Google will soon implement. Upp enables an effective, in-house operation in which all domain knowledge sits with you.

See the immediate benefits for yourself by booking a free Google Shopping consultation with us today.

Upp vs Google Shopping Agency