Google Shopping & PLAs

We know that the ongoing changes to Google Shopping and Product Listing ad campaigns have made many headlines recently and that there seems to be an endless amount of questions as to how this might affect advertiser’s campaigns today and in the future.  We’re here to provide some much needed clarity in the form of answering frequently asked questions, providing the most recent updates, and linking to additional resources in this post.

For marketers fairly familiar with running Google product listing ad campaigns, some of the below information might be a refresher.  For businesses only running on Google Shopping platform that used to drive traffic free of charge, you will now have to invest in this service.  Keep in mind that retailers only pay when the shopper chooses to click on your ad.

Firstly, we must address the change in the way the Google Shopping platform will look and how Google believes these changes will positively impact the Google Shopping experience. To eliminate clutter and duplication that was a common problem to shoppers in the past (before this, Google Shopping included multiple result boxes for product search, product listing ads, and products universal), Google has made their shopping interface into one single product commercial model. (See picture below)

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What are Google Product Listing Ads and why should I know about them?

In a nutshell, Product Listing ads (PLAs) work with an advertiser’s Google Merchant Center account (after linking a product feed) to serve highly targeted ads that include richer product information directly in the ad itself.  This includes product image, price, and merchant name.

PLA campaigns are going to become a much more significant part of a company’s e-Commerce strategy as US searchers on Google.com will begin to see PLAs more frequently on their shopping related queries.  PLAs help simplify the advertising process for merchants with a large inventory base by using their product feed to serve rich image ads without specifying keywords as you would with search.

While Google product search used to be a free service to have your products listed on www.google.com/shopping that service is being discontinued and Product Listing ad campaigns will be the only way to get listed on the new Google Shopping platform in the near future.

The main purpose for this transformation is to develop Google Shopping into a more credible establishment for both consumers and merchants. It will also help drive significant performance improvements for retailer campaigns.  In preparation to this change there are a few aspects to consider about PLAs.

Launch your PLA Campaigns before August 15th!!!

  • Because PLAs are now considered an investment, Google is offering two incentives to help retailers get started.
    • (1) A 10% monthly credit of your PLA spend through the end of the year (December 2012) on Google.com PLA campaigns targeting the US across all devices.
      • Requirement 1: Customer needs to be promoting ALL policy compliant products (on their feed) through a Product Listing ad campaign
      • Requirement 2: The PLA campaigns need to target the US and English
      • Requirement 3: PLA campaigns MUST be created by August 15th 2012
      • Expert Tip: Your CPC bids can be as low as $0.01 to trigger the incentive program until the end of the year
    • (2) A $100 off coupon WASalso available for retailers with a Merchant Center account that had at least one approved item for product search in the US as of May 30, 2012.
      • The $100 credit is not something that you can continue to receive if your merchant account was not set up before May 30th however you can receive your $100 Adwords credit by submitting a simple online form if you were live before May 30th 2012.

 

Get started towards receiving your $100 coupon and read the full terms of the incentive program here

Tracking: Advertisers can still track performance across entire product lines, specific product categories, or at the product level. The efficacy of this tracking method will be dependent on an advertiser’s ability to organize the feed into product groups and assign specific AdWords URLs for each product.

Here is a timeline with the milestones to consider with PLAs:

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As far as we know this is just the beginning in terms of the coming changes to expect from Google regarding their shopping platform and Product Listing Ad campaigns.  Look out for the next Elite SEM PLA blog post, where we will outline more advanced PLA campaign strategies as well as inform our readers on the best ways to keep these campaigns optimized.

Additional Resources

Google just recently in July launched a series of Google hangouts to help guide business owners through the transition in Google Shopping. Those hangouts are now available in the Google shopping section of the Google Business Youtube channel.

Adwords Editor 9.8 (launched June 28th)

There is now the ability to add and edit dynamic search ads and product listing ads, and also the ability to modify location targets more efficiently. For those looking to build PLAs quickly, please check out this release. Google has also simplified the PLA setup in AdWords –making it even easier for new users to create PLAs. (See below)

adwords editor
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