Using Zombie SKUs to improve your Google Shopping Campaigns

Data Strategy
E-commerce Strategy
Ecommerce Implementation

With the summer weather fading fast and Halloween seemingly looming on the horizon we thought it might be a good time to talk about those slow-moving, moaning fellas that have been filling our TV screens… get your mind out of the gutter… we meant Zombies!

More specifically Zombie SKUs.

What are Zombie SKUs?

Zombie SKUs are products or SKU’s that have not received any impressions in the last 28-day period. In the digital world, this classifies them as being dead, however, it is ‘the bringing them back to life’ simile that truly earns them their unique name.

What causes them?

Lots of things can cause a Zombie SKU, just as products can perform differently depending on campaigns, keywords, targeting, bids and any number of other criteria. However, they all result in the same outcome; some products will be shown more in Shopping Ads and some not at all!

In short, Zombie SKUs are products that do not get a chance to serve in Google shopping campaigns.


What can I do? You have two choices on how to handle Zombie SKUs

Either stop promoting these products for the time being in favour of trying other products. This should improve account efficiencies until you want to reintegrate these products. 

Or…. Generate Zombie SKUs and bring a new lease of life back to these products!


How do I go about generating Zombie SKU’s?

You’re only 4 simple steps away from Zombie SKUs and breathing new life into your Shopping campaigns.

  1. 1. Generate a list of SKUs that have had zero impressions in the last 28 days. You can do this by using a Google Ads script from a data automation solution such as Supermetrics and saving the data to an Excel file.

  2. 2. Now assign the zero-impression SKUs with a custom label.We recommend using a scale, depending on which are already being used and how much they are being used in your current campaigns.

  3. 3. Create a new column headed ‘Zombie Rating’. Setup the Excel file as a supplemental feed in the Google Merchant Centre and make sure the columns are correct so that the SKUs can be matched via their ID. Set the data refresh to occur daily. Create a new feed rule to assign custom label X (whatever you decided to call it in step 2) to the value from the supplemental feed you’ve just set up.

  4. 4. Finally, create a new feed rule to assign the custom label to the value from the supplemental feed which you just set up. Congratulations, you will now have a custom label assigned to your “Zombie SKUs” which means you can now target these exclusively in your Shopping campaigns to give them a chance to perform.


Lastly but no means least here are the benefits of using Zombie SKUs

Zombie SKUs give your underperforming products a chance to shine, what was dead may never die, and so on! But seriously, this is a very efficient way to turn previously dead products into revenue drivers.

Without this data, you will not know be able to give your products a fair opportunity to work their hardest and drive considerable revenue to your brand.