Beyond the Basics: The New Era of Product Listing Ads

When Google first introduced Product Listing Ads (PLAs) many marketers and retailers alike feared the implications that this new shopping model would bring. However, it did not take long for critics to learn to embrace the system, especially when they began to see the positive impact on volume and ROI. Since their full inception in the fall of 2012, PLA impression rates have seen exponential growth and success. Retailers realize that in order to stay competitive in the ecommerce retail market, PLAs must play a significant role in search strategy.

Now that everyone has had a few months to learn the ins and outs of the program, it is now time to take PLAs to the next level. PLAs can help you not only be competitive in today’s market place through product placement and promotion, but they can help drive over-arching strategic business initiatives; such as new customers acquisition, increasing paid search share of voice or combatting the “Amazon-effect”. The next evolution of PLAs is here and included below are some tactics designed to leverage PLAs to deliver on key business strategies:

1. Feature Sales and Promotions that are product or category specific and not site-wide: With PLAs you have the ability to group a product or group of products into specific ad target(s) and feature promotional text to support those products. For example, close-out items can be grouped together allowing retailers to focus on clearance messaging on the appropriate universe of items identified as clearance. This refined targeting process allows you to accurately represent products with sale or promotional text and bid appropriately.

2. Combat the Amazon-effect: Most retailers use Amazon’s ecommerce marketplace as an additional revenue channel and experience a lot of success on the ecommerce giant’s platform. Although high sales rates are beneficial, they result in one-off sales without the opportunity to market to that Amazon customer. Due to the inability to own or use that customer information, Amazon stifles new customer acquisition. Additionally, retailers are paying a higher price to Amazon for the sale. Grouping your top Amazon sellers on your PLA feed helps you to target those products with effective bids to drive sales directly at a lower cost, while adding new customers and value to your file.

3. Increasing your New Customer Acquisition: The Holy Grail and top initiative for all retailers is, “How can I generate more new customers?” Analyzing data on what products/categories drive stronger new customer acquisition enables us to be strategic in our approach to how we segment, feature, bid and budget PLA campaigns. We can effectively maximize new customer volume by ensuring we properly feature and fund the products and categories that fuel this initiative.

4. Leverage Information for both Paid Search & PLAs: To really optimize the “search engine results page” and increase share-of-voice, using both keyword and PLA query data is crucial. Ongoing mining of queries that generate paid ads (PLA & text) enables you to both grow your non-brand text ad and PLA campaigns. Not only can you double serve a PLA ad with a text ad, but PLAs can also be utilized to increase non-brand search ROI. PLA search queries offer insight into potential new keywords. For example, through a PLA search query report you might find that “yellow skinny jeans” have generated strong PLA order volume at a high conversion rate, and you can then use that information to add “yellow skinny jeans” to your non-brand paid search campaign. This bid strategy allows your PLA ad to show in-line with your text ad, thereby improving your brand’s exposure and pushing competitive ads down.

Product Listing Ads continue to evolve and enhance the Google shopping experience, and it is necessary to consider their impact on your company’s broader marketing strategy. Taking a more sophisticated and adaptable approach to PLAs sets your brand up for growth and long-term success.

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  • Subramanian S

    very well said..PLAs will definitely help in combating the Amazon effect..Guess this holiday season will see more and more advertisers embracing PLAs very tightly…

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