4 Tips to Improve Your Product Feed for Advertising

We are now in era in performance marketing where the quality of a marketer’s own data is a critical driver of advertising success. This is particularly evident in retail, where product listing ads (PLA) are often the largest share of the paid media budgets. Those ads are powered by the content that lives in the retailer’s product feed.

Due to the fact ad content is dependent on the product feed, the marketing department needs to take a more active role in the development and management of the feed content, much like it has done with SEO over the past few years. Here are some easy steps (often only one-time work!) to take without requiring significant coding expertise or investment in costly feed management and optimization tools:

Normalize product variants, especially product colors, as consumers who search for products online frequently use these.

Merchandisers have all kinds of interesting ways to describe the colors of their products to stand out from their competition.

Some of the more popular I’ve seen are “tangerine,” “sea foam,” and “azure.” Sure, tangerine is a cool name for a color in the print catalog, but people aren’t often looking for a “tangerine” dress on Google. Here’s a quick update for better match rates:

  • Tangerine -> Orange
  • Sea foam -> Green
  • Azure -> Blue

Once you’ve translated your internal colors to primary colors, this should be a simple find-and-replace in your feed.

Remove extraneous information, especially from your product titles.

Online shoppers (outside of B2B procurement specialists) rarely look for retail products by their product ID, SKU#, ISBN code, etc.

If this kind of information is in your product titles, then you are hurting your keyword density and ultimately your relevance. You will pay higher CPCs for the same position and your ads won’t be as enticing to the end shopper. Better to scrub this stuff as there are typically columns in your feed for them specifically.

Always include the product category in your product titles.

People generally look for stuff online, not abstract concepts. While “Betsey Johnson Mermaid” sounds nice, it typically doesn’t connect to search behavior. At the very least let the shopping engines know that it is a cocktail dress.

Categorize your products deeply, especially your most popular ones.

Categorization is critical to the engine’s awareness of what types of queries your products are relevant for. Many merchandise categorization schemes do not align well with those of the engines. Clearly it is challenging to reclassify thousands of products to meet the needs of Google or other publishers, but doing this well for your best-sellers, at the least, will go along way to ensuring that your nest products show up when you need them to.


There are obviously much more sophisticated techniques to apply to feeds that would further improve the relationship between the product data and how consumers search. However, if you are light on tech resources, don’t feel like you are stuck with what you have.

Remember that these are your ads and they need to be treated with the same care and respect as your more “creative” ad units. Some of the quick techniques above can be the difference between success and failure in PLA and related channels.

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