Google Shopping & PLAs

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Marc Weisinger
Marc Weisinger
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 its shopping interface into one single product commercial model.

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 U.S. searchers on 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 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.

  • Because PLAs are now considered an investment, Google is offering two incentives to help retailers get started. (If you had a PLA campaign launched before August 15)
    • (1) A 10 percent monthly credit of your PLA spend through the end of the year (December 2012) on PLA campaigns targeting the United States 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 U.S. and English
      • Requirement 3: PLA campaigns MUST have be created by August 15, 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 U.S. 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 30; however, you can receive your $100 Adwords credit by submitting a simple online form if you were live before May 30, 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.

Below is a timeline that illustrates the milestones of Google Shopping and PLAs. As of October 1, everything in Google Shopping is commercialized.

As far as we know, this is just the beginning in terms of the coming changes to expect from Google regarding its shopping platform and Product Listing Ad campaigns.

Additional Resources

In July, Google 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 28)

There is now the ability to add and edit dynamic search ads and product listing ads, as well as 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.

Marc Weisinger

Marc Weisinger

Marc Weisinger completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Florida. He has worked as a search engine marketing professional ... [Read full bio]