Product Listing Ads are Finally Here!

As you may already know, on November 11th Google released Product Listing Ads for all AdWords advertisers. The feature has been in beta for past year available only for selected advertisers. Product Listing Ads (PLA) are similar to Product Extensions, and also use same product feed from Google Merchant Center. Unlike Product Extensions, that extends your standard text ad with multiple product images under a plusbox, Product Listing Ads is a standalone ad format that is a part of AdWords auction. Here is the example of a page that contains both Product Extensions and Product Listing Ads:

Product Listing Ads vs Product Extensions example

Considering the upcoming holiday season, eCommerce advertisers should be especially excited. The feature allows you to bring “rich product information directly in the ad, such as the product image, title, price, and merchant name”. During its beta testing Google has found that “people are twice as likely to click on a Product Listing Ad as they are to click on a standard text ad in the same location”. When customers see the product image and price shown in the ad they will only click if the product is relevant to their search intent. It has always been a dilemma for advertisers of how to eliminate irrelevant clicks. With the opportunity of improved CTR and decrease of unwanted clicks, merchants using Product Listing Ads could get a better ROI on their paid search program.

I noticed that some confuse Product Listing Ads with Product Extension, here are the key differences:

Product Listing Ads

Product Extensions

Appear separately from standard AdWords ads on the page and feature multiple relevant products from multiple merchants that are relevant to a user’s search terms. Appear below a standard text ad and show all relevant products for a user’s search terms
Format Standalone Ad Text Ad Extension
Source Uses product information from the advertiser’s Google Merchant Center account.
Product Information ImagePrice


Merchant name




Focus Product (could show multiple merchants in one ad) Merchant (could show multiple products for one advertiser)
What Triggers to appear Google decides which product is relevant to a search query Keywords
Cost CPC, ad group level CPC, keyword level
Targeting Set targets filters based on product attributes (condition, brand, product_type or adwords_labels, adwords_grouping) on  ad group level Set targets filters based on product attributes (condition, brand, product_type or adwords_labels, adwords_grouping) on campaign level
Bidding CPC and CPA Not Available

So, what do you need in order to start running Product Listing Ads? Here are the steps to set up your PLA (and PE as well):

1. Create and set up  a Google Merchant Center account: Merchant Center is formerly known as Google Base, it allows you to submit your products and sell them through Google’s organic product search as well as to connect to your Adwords account.

2. Once Merchant Center account is configured, you can upload your product feed data. You can upload data manually or use Google Base data API to do it automatically. Google has certain specifications and policies for product feeds, but following five attributes are essential for advanced filtering and targeting groups of products in your paid search program:

  • adwords_grouping
  • adwords_labels
  • adwords_publish
  • adwords_redirect
  • adwords_queryparam

3. Link your AdWords account and Merchant Center accounts. You can do this in your Merchant Center Account settings by adding your AdWords ID . Then, you need to enable Product Extensions in AdWords account by enabling them in campaign settings.

4. Now you should be ready to create a Product Ads campaign. Of course, you can add them in your existing campaign, but the best practice is to keep them separately. During the campaign creation you will have a choice between CPC or CPA bidding (depending if you want to focus on clicks or conversions). Make sure you check in “Extend my ads with relevant product details from Google Merchant  Center” and choose the account from the drop down list. When asked to create an ad, simply check “Product Ad”:

5. Remember those special attributes you added in your product feed? Now you can organize products in ad groups by setting up filters in “Auto Targets” tab. You can also set bids on product groups.

This should get you started with Product Ads and Extensions. If you’d like to learn more on PLA and PE, Point It will be hosting a webinar on December 9th, 2010 where I will guide you through the set up process with some killer tips on targeting and tracking. SIGN UP HERE.

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  • Awesome explanation Serge. Thanks for clearing it up for us casual users 🙂

    November 19, 2010 at 2:18 am
  • rin

    what’s the difference btw cost & biddig?

    November 24, 2011 at 12:01 am
  • Hi Rin! I am not so clear on the question. Could you elaborate a little bit please? Thanks!

    November 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm

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