Increasing ROAS by 29% with Google inventory campaigns

How Feedonomics made a multi-language, multi-brand, multi-vertical portfolio manageable for SMG Swiss Marketplace Group

Customer challenges

  • Receiving user-generated product listings in an inconsistent format
  • Creating auction ads that stand out on Google search
  • Managing Google inventory campaigns for 2 million unique listings

Feedonomics solutions

  • Standardizing product data to make ad quality consistent
  • Updating ads frequently with listing-specific auction data, such as price changes and number of bids
  • Importing performance data at scale to advertise the most-viewed product per category

Location: Switzerland

Industry: Digital marketplaces

Company type: Online platform operator

Website: swissmarketplace.group

Meaningful results

Increased ROAS by 29% for Ricardo, one of SMG’s online auction sites

Avoided policy violations with simple export rules

Made a full portfolio of multi-language feeds manageable in a single platform

Swiss Marketplace GroupWith a portfolio of real estate sites, automotive sites, and general marketplaces, SMG Swiss Marketplace Group aims to establish itself as Switzerland’s new digital hub. One of its sites, Ricardo, is an online auction and shopping channel that hosts approximately 2 million active listings at a given time.

As a Performance Marketing Manager at SMG, Giacomo Iotti focuses on driving more traffic and bids to Ricardo’s listings, because the company earns commissions on sales made through the site. Many companies rely on Google Shopping to advertise a large volume of products, but as an auction-based site, Ricardo is not eligible to use it.

Instead, Iotti found success with a lesser-known option: Google inventory campaigns. Inventory campaigns use advanced, feed-driven search ads only available through Google Search Ads 360.

“Feedonomics was really essential because a Google inventory campaign is all about text ads. So you need proper text, obviously, and that only works if you have a very good feed. And Feedonomics’ feed rules help harmonize the text to make ads readable and marketing-friendly.”

Giacomo Iotti, Performance Marketing Manager at SMG

With a large catalog and complex source data, Iotti realized early on that optimizing his campaigns without a versatile feed management platform like Feedonomics “would not be possible.”

“Feedonomics was really essential because a Google inventory campaign is all about text ads,” he said. “So you need proper text, obviously, and that only works if you have a very good feed. And Feedonomics’ feed rules help harmonize the text to make ads readable and marketing-friendly.”

The user-friendliness of Feedonomics’ platform gives Iotti a high degree of control over his product feeds. He uses feed rules to keep the quality of ads consistent, and he creates campaigns in French, German, Italian, and English for Switzerland’s multilingual population. Best of all, he’s found ways to make Ricardo’s auction ads more effective.

With Feedonomics’ assistance, Iotti has used Google inventory campaigns to improve the return on ad spend (ROAS) for Ricardo by 29%, unlocked the full potential of a unique advertising strategy, and made SMG’s entire roster of product feeds manageable in one place. In the three years that SMG has worked with Feedonomics, the company has continued to seize new opportunities without sacrificing scalability.

“I think we face a lot of complexity because of the different languages, different brands, and different verticals,” Iotti said. “Using a single tool to put all this together simplifies [the feed management process] a lot and obviously helps to harmonize the different structures from all brands into a structure that we can use.”

“I think we face a lot of complexity because of the different languages, different brands, and different verticals. Using a single tool to put all this together simplifies [the feed management process] a lot and obviously helps to harmonize the different structures from all brands into a structure that we can use.”

Giacomo Iotti, Performance Marketing Manager at SMG

Cleaning up data for Google inventory campaigns

Creating ads for a site like Ricardo is particularly complex for Iotti because the product data quality his team receives from sellers varies greatly. When sellers create listings on Ricardo, they enter product information manually for each listing, resulting in a wide range of formatting styles across the site.

Running quality ads helps build trust in your brand and products, and Feedonomics allows SMG to transform product data at scale and apply consistent formatting to its text ads.

“Our main challenge is that all titles and descriptions for the items are user-generated,” Iotti said. “Some arrive using all capital letters, they use a lot of special characters, and you know, some are very bad. There’s no consistency in the quality. Of course, Feedonomics and the templates in inventory campaigns can help remove all these special characters or make sure the titles are the correct length, those kinds of things.”

Swiss Marketplace GroupIotti uses Feedonomics to truncate titles and stay under the character limit without cutting words in half. He also ensures that headlines are not repeated in ads, which is part of his overall effort to make Ricardo’s ads consistently look good on Google.

Managing Ricardo’s product data more effectively with Feedonomics also helps Iotti avoid costly policy violations. With limited advertising options on Google, Iotti can’t afford to lose a valuable channel. And although Google inventory campaigns have less strict requirements than shopping campaigns, there are still products you’re not allowed to advertise, such as cryptocurrencies and guns. Fortunately, Iotti has been able to prevent policy violations without difficulty.

“It’s super easy on Feedonomics,” Iotti said. “We just remove the category altogether from the feed instead of having to remove or deal with every single instance of guns, for example. There are many categories that Google doesn’t like, and it’s very easy to remove them.”

Creating auction ads that stand out

Swiss Marketplace GroupGetting product data into a usable state was only the first step of Iotti’s ultimate goal to increase views and bids on Ricardo’s listings. In order to make the ads more enticing, Iotti used Feedonomics to frequently refresh specific product attributes in the text of the ads.

“Because Ricardo is an auction-based platform like eBay, the price [of the product] changes all the time,” Iotti said. “Depending on the bids, the price grows. So it’s very important for us to have very real-time price information shown in the ad. Every three hours, our feed updates the price in case it has changed.”

To drive a sense of urgency, Ricardo’s ads include the number of bids on an item and how many days are left until the auction ends. They also include the name of the seller. To Iotti, this level of specificity improves the quality of the ads.

“These very specific product attributes are not common on Google,” Iotti said. “None of our competitors do that. And honestly, I’ve never seen it before, either. [We believe] this is how to make a text ad stand out, because all the others are very similar, you know?”

“These very specific product attributes are not common on Google. None of our competitors do that. And honestly, I’ve never seen it before, either. [We believe] this is how to make a text ad stand out, because all the others are very similar, you know?”

Giacomo Iotti, Performance Marketing Manager at SMG

Establishing a simple system for complex listings

Iotti’s efforts to increase the number of bids on Ricardo included a shift in strategy. By doing a historical analysis, the SMG team identified that directing shoppers to product detail pages would result in more sales than directing them to category pages. However, this revelation introduced a new challenge, which Feedonomics proved instrumental in addressing.

“How can you advertise 2 million products when having unique keywords for each of them is impossible?” Iotti said. “Because many of them are the same product just in different versions, or simply different listings of the same product.”

To solve this problem, SMG received help from a feed specialist at Feedonomics who imported performance data from Google Analytics into the platform, then used the data to limit the products that were advertised.

“In Feedonomics, we made a deduplication system where basically we look at the amount of visits or views that an item already got within a category, and then we advertise only the one with the most views within the category,” Iotti said.

Despite listing approximately 2 million products on its site, Ricardo is able to limit its ads to around 5,000 products at a time. Once a product is sold, the next most-viewed item in the category is exported to Google and advertised.

“In Feedonomics, we made a deduplication system where basically we look at the amount of visits or views that an item already got within a category, and then we advertise only the one with the most views within the category.”

Giacomo Iotti, Performance Marketing Manager at SMG

Making growth sustainable for the future

By maintaining consistently high-quality product data across Ricardo’s ads, displaying and refreshing specific dynamic product attributes, and limiting the product selection that is advertised, SMG has improved Ricardo’s ROAS by 29%.

SMG also uses Feedonomics to create product feeds for retargeting ads on Criteo and shopping ads through Microsoft, and manages more product feeds than just Ricardo’s through the Feedonomics platform. With a growing portfolio of brands and proven success on a new type of campaign, Iotti is excited about the future of the company.

“I think 10 or more brands are under our portfolio, so hopefully we will expand Google inventory campaigns to as many brands as possible within the portfolio,” Iotti said. “And it’s going to be easier than the beginning, of course, because once you build the template for one, it can be used for the others as well, thanks to Feedonomics.”

Find out why the world’s most prolific brands and online retailers choose Feedonomics.