Product listing ads (PLAs for short) aren’t new news anymore. However, I’m astounded by the number of transactional clients who still don’t use them as part of their search engine marketing (SEM) campaign strategy.
If you advertise online and your site runs off something such as Magento or Drupal Commerce, you should already be on the product listing bandwagon, before it becomes too full.
Let’s go back to basics, then:
What are product listing ads?
Product listing ads form part of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. Some time ago now, Google quite rightly realised that some sort of search queries warrant more than simply serving the user with text ad after visually unexciting text ad. If, for example, you Google “cute red dress”, wouldn’t you rather see images of cute red dresses that you can buy, instead of text ads saying “cute red dress, best price – buy now”? Product listing ads are part of Google Shopping, which is accessible at the top of the search engine results, above your first PPC ads. By clicking on the Shopping button, you can see a full list of all items that correspond to your search query.
How does Google decide what to show?
In a nutshell, Google matches product listing ads to your search query, based on fields within a data feed. The feed is easy to set up from within your Google Merchant Centre, which, in itself, is very easy to set up if you are an e-commerce or transactional website. Don’t know how? You should speak to an expert PPC team, such as us!
Are product listing ads right for me?
If you’re a merchant with a large stock inventory, and you sell products that have photography, the short and sweet answer is yes, product listing ads are right for you. Why wouldn’t you show off your online shelves with photographs rather than text ads?
Aesthetics aside, what are the benefits of product listing ads over traditional PPC?
At the present moment, your average cost per click (CPC) is almost invariably lower on the PLA space than on the correspondent PPC space. Furthermore, I’d argue that you’re going to attract more qualified traffic. If somebody has seen your product image and is clicking on it, chances are that your product has resonated with them and they want to buy. So, cheaper, better quality traffic: win, win, I’d say. Another thing to consider is that you could qualify to have different but similar items showing up on the same product listing ad space, which is effectively a grid of several products. That would mean twice the exposure. Couple this with a strong PPC text ad and a strong organic listing, and you have a great, intelligent search engine presence.
Any other hints and tips?
Consistent photography isn’t a deal breaker, but is always nice, particularly if you have several similar items, which may end up side by side. Finally, if you’re selling something with a SKU number (think: electronics, component parts, software or ISBNs on books), include this in your product feed. Increasingly, the desirable strata of qualified purchasers are searching directly by SKU code, and are literally one step away from purchasing. Make sure that they’re purchasing from you!