Sasha Howells

Paid Search: How To Survive Without A Feed

Here at VS, not all of our paid search marketing clients have a website which uses our eCommerce platform. Because of this, some clients not only have no feed, but they also have little knowledge on how to create a feed. Without a feed, no shopping campaigns can run, which can be detrimental to an account’s overall performance.

Nevertheless, our PPC team have offered their expert advice on how to survive and grow an account, even without the renowned feed.


Google Merchant Center (may we love it, may we loathe it)

To the untrained eye, Google Merchant Center can often be a headache. Bad news is often more common than good – 98% of your products may have been disapproved, or your feed may have failed to upload. Ultimately you may feel that you don’t need to focus on this form of negativity and choose to ignore it completely. However, the Merchant Center is also the home of one of the most valuable things in an AdWords account; the Google Product Feed.

The Google Product Feed is what allows you to run Shopping Campaigns, so maintaining its performance should be at the top of your priority list! But what happens if the inevitable happens and your feed goes down? What if you don’t want to run shopping campaigns or you don’t even have a feed to begin with? What will happen to your account? Will you survive?

We’re just joking! You will of course survive and your account will not go up in flames.

However, it may become stagnant, making the task of progressing the account a hard one. So what can you do to “survive” in this situation?

DSA (Dynamic Search Ads)

Normally, shopping campaigns are one of your best bets for driving generic traffic to your website, but if you don’t have a shopping campaign, a DSA campaign is going to help you out. Think of a DSA campaign as a mixture of a shopping campaign and a search campaign – it’s the closest you will get to a shopping campaign without a feed!

DSA campaigns work by matching the content of your landing page to a search query. You can either target every page on the website or specific categories, purely depending on how much time you want to dedicate to the campaign and your aims, for example what will be more time efficient based on how many products you’re aiming to cover?

They link to how shopping campaigns work, in the sense of matching search queries with product titles based on what is in the feed… except in this instance, the ads are not product listings but text ads…like a search campaign.

Search Campaigns

You’re most likely familiar with search campaigns, but if you are unsure what they are, they’re “the ones that use keywords”. Unlike a shopping campaign or a DSA, these campaigns work with keywords that you select. You can target selected keywords with different match types that help control which searches trigger your ad, based on different wording.  

With search campaigns, you can be very specific and granular, or alternatively, generic and fairly open-ended. So unrestricted in fact, that you can use them to generate high volumes of traffic. If the aim is to accumulate data that closely mirrors the type of data you gather in a shopping campaign, create a search campaign and use match types such as broad match modifier or phrase match, for brands, categories or products and watch traffic flow in.

By using these match types, you will likely acquire more search queries and ultimately, figure out the key areas of interest for your consumers.

However take note! As with DSA campaigns, consider how much time, research and effort you are willing to put in to maintain the search campaign – for example keeping it optimised and staying on top of the quality score for keywords.

Closing Thoughts

The purpose of this blog was to highlight ways in which you can still gather search terms and data that you would normally use to optimise and grow an account, via other means than a shopping campaign. Clearly it is possible. However, that doesn’t mean that living without a feed is advised!

Our final piece of advice would be to take note – without a Google Product Feed, you may well survive, you may even see some growth, but you will be missing out on a lot of potential users, you won’t be able to use Dynamic Ads and you will also be creating a lot of work for yourself!


Looking for more information on how our expert Paid Search team can help you? Get in touch today via [email protected] or on 01642 988 416.

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