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Google Shopping issues in the UK lead to sharp KPI declines

Chatter on LinkedIn and Twitter indicates that many advertisers in the UK and beyond are experiencing a bug with Google’s Smart Shopping campaigns. Advertisers have gone to the Google Ads Help forum, Twitter, and LinkedIn to ask if they’re the only ones.

The issue. Impressions and spend have dropped in Smart Shopping for many UK advertisers starting around August 20, 2021. “A high proportion of UK-based advertisers have seen a drop in impressions, cost and revenue for their PLA campaigns since Friday 20th,” tweeted PPCer Liam Wade. Google Ads Platinum Product Expert Emmanuel Flossie posted in the forums that it’s a known issue.

Update: “Our team uncovered a technical issue that prevented some products from being served via Shopping Ads, since 8/20. As a result, corresponding impressions & clicks may have been impacted. The issue is now completely resolved as of 8/24,” tweeted Google Ads liaison Ginny Marvin on Tuesday afternoon.

Some seeing returns to normal. While advertisers initially saw drops as high as 70% to 90%, some are seeing a return to normal in the past week. Wade reported a 75% increase in impressions from the dropped numbers previously.

Potential good news… 🛒🤞

Starting to see impressions coming back for a few of our UK clients from ~5pm (not all)

Here's today compared to yesterday, now +75% up.

Still -22% comparing to avg Monday 5pm, but a definite step in the right direction.#ppcchat #googleshopping https://t.co/YV3fUYVuA3 pic.twitter.com/sy95fD18oH

— Liam Wade 🎸 (@Digital_Liam) August 23, 2021

Why we care. “Assuming it gets fixed, bear in mind that bid strategies will likely be affected and may re-enter learning phases,” tweeted Wade in the initial thread. If your accounts or campaigns have been affected by this issue, it’s critical to communicate to clients and stakeholders that this change is a glitch in their metrics, and not indicative of other issues. It’d also be beneficial to annotate this change in Google Analytics so any KPIs can be caveated in future reports. The bug is also causing advertisers to question the machine learning and automation happening behind the scenes in ads.

Also, bugs like this with #GoogleShopping make me less confident in switching everything to machine learning. I need more reassurance. Bugs will happen, but this has been several days now… #PPCChat

— Rachel (she/her) (@PPCRachel) August 23, 2021

This report will continue to be updated as we gather more information.

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