How Ecommerce Companies Can Boost Performance by Integrating Search Ads 360 + Google Analytics 360

by Jonathan Bynoe

As an Analyst at Napkyn, a common ask from our enterprise ecommerce clients is to help them identify the most valuable audiences in a sales funnel, and leverage insights about those audiences to drive online sales. One of the most powerful integrated stacks  that can accomplish this is Search Ads 360 + Google Analytics 360, enterprise advertising and analytics platforms that are part of the Google Marketing Platform. This post will walk you through the Inventory Management feature in SA360, and how it can help you run more efficient and effective ecommerce campaigns,  as well as some of the big wins any skilled ecommerce analyst or marketing professional can gain by integrating SA360 and GA360. 

What is Inventory Management in Search Ads 360? 

Inventory Management in Search Ads 360 uses data from an inventory feed to generate search campaigns, ad groups, text ads, keywords, and Google Ads sitelinks. As you update inventory data, Search Ads 360 automatically updates the generated campaigns and other items. Pretty sweet, right? Read more on the feature itself from Google here

Key Benefits of Inventory Management in Search Ads 360

Why do smart marketers use inventory Management in SA360? There are three key benefits of the tool: 

  1. Budget Optimization – You don’t want to pay to display search results when the inventory needed to close the sale is not available. 
  2. Ease of Use – Doing this analysis and monitoring can be cumbersome without a simple integration, which is exactly why Google added this functionality to SA360.
  3. Interdepartmental victories – Creating cross-team partnerships within organizations fosters deep connections that develop new strategic options. This is a really significant opportunity to align Merchandise & Inventory Teams with 3rd & 1st Party Marketing Teams.

Pro tip: Inventory Management in SA360 works particularly great for companies with fluid product inventories, especially when prices change depending on region or product demand. This can help you answer questions like: Does my  inventory reflect which products perform best for this time of year? Which ones have changed?; and How fluid is the restocking for some of these products and in which geos does that potentially change?

Search Ads 360 + Google Analytics 360 

Now that we know why we would use SA360’s inventory management features, what supplemental data opportunities does incorporating GA360 provide?

(More) Budget Optimization

The paid search terms that relate to Product A can be restricted as there is less inventory availability of Product A, but with Google Analytics 360 you can also identify complementary products B and C. With this additional context, you can ensure you prevent drops in Average Order Value (AOV) as products B and C run low on inventory, despite not being directly related to the search term(s).

Return & Refund Reconciliation

While SA360’s reporting focuses on revenue and closing transactions, there may not be available data in SA360 that allows you to recognize how often a product is returned or refunded. With GA360’s data uploads, you can further inform which search terms are avoided based on actual long-term impacts on the bottom-line. If you’re new to looking at refund data within GA360, this post from our sister company Babbage Systems should help.

Data-Driven Attribution 

It’s all well and good to presume that certain identified search terms are needed to close the sales they get credit for in SA360, but do Google Analytics 360’s machine learning-driven algorithms agree with those presumptions? Wouldn’t it be nice to move this paid search budget towards a campaign that will increase revenue? Napkyn actually has several posts dedicated to attribution and its importance, which I’d recommend looking into for some new ideas.

Year Over Year & Quarterly Reporting 

If your campaign is for a particular time of year, or if your users tend to follow similar behavioural trends year over year (YoY) it may be prudent to compare to previous year’s performance within Google Analytics or to a previous quarter instead if that is more appropriate. 

Behaviour Insights

Taking insights gathered from Google Analytics reports on user behaviour will allow you to generate valuable audiences for advertising, and A/B test particular ad strategies at scale, especially by product type or overall availability and can have them run automatically. These same demographic or location-based findings from GA reports, will also allow product-type catering through SA360 to be location-based as well.

Caveats to Consider

Foundational Requirements

To maximize the capabilities of these tools (especially GA360), you need a trusted data layer that captures the insights you need. For ecommerce performance measurement, ensure you are already using Enhanced Ecommerce and User ID, and tracking product data (tied to SKU)  as a baseline.  Using your Ecommerce Product Performance report from GA360 allows you to further align your top performing products with your campaign goals. In doing so, you can identify which SA360 campaigns are affiliated with specific products, and where there are less optimal bids. (Psst … if you’re getting lost, you’re not alone. This stuff can get complicated, that’s why we’re here. Give us a shout, you can even say JB sent you).  

Integrated Reporting Limitations

Although it is possible, I would not at this time recommend using SA360 reports in Google Analytics for reasons resembling this, and other data quality issues that arise with the integration. What you should do instead is leverage the effective reporting within each individual tool.

Using these strategies and leveraging both SA360 and GA360 will not only allow for a more controlled/predictive view for performance within selected campaigns and on your website, but also for more effective and valuable ad spends, ensuring that you are maximizing user behaviour and engagement on your pages. Leveraging inventory management with takeaways from GA360 user performance will allow for far more seamless and data-driven decisions to be made on the fly, for product performances, and on targeted demographics.

Jonathan Bynoe

Analyst

As an Analyst at Napkyn Analytics, JB strategically leverages the capabilities of the Google Marketing Platform to improve digital outcomes for his enterprise customers.

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