Product Listing Ads: What to Expect and Why you want to be There.

I remember the first time I ever set up a Product Listing Ad campaign.  I remember confusion, a plethora of unanswered questions, and sheer frustration to name a few. I also remember the humongous smile on my face when I got everything up and running. I have a feeling many other online advertisers out there had a similar experience as Product Listing Ads can be a bit intimidating. I assure you, you can tackle PLA’s with poise and grace if you know what to expect. With feed transparency, efficient architecture, and a little bit of patience, you can overcome your fear, and dominate your competition.

Part 1: Find the Feed

The first step in your PLA journey involves getting your hands on the feed. This gives you a chance to see if whoever is handling the feed is taking advantage of the optional attributes Google allows. If they offer them, use them! Although Google doesn’t give you a number, feeds have a quality score. By using these optional attributes, and regularly refreshing your feed, you’re improving the overall “quality” and increasing your chances for your products to enter the auction. Using these attributes also gives you the ability to customize and test, and we all know how much testing makes search marketer’s happy and warm inside.

Part 2: Consider the Architecture

Once you have the chance to see what quality of feed you’re working with you can begin to think about the structure of your account. How many products are in the feed? What products are considered the bread and butter? You need to ask these questions before you even consider creating your first campaign. When you’re dealing with Product Listing Ads think about what type of architecture will allow you to digest the feed as efficiently as possible. I say this because some product feeds are MASSIVE, and shoot, we’re only human.

Occasionally, only a handful of products in a feed may be considered valuable. If this were the case I’d isolate the individual sku’s by product id, and run another all products campaign with a much lower bid for complete coverage. If more than one category or type of product is considered valuable, use the product grouping or label attributes (these are considered optional). This will allow you to bid more aggressively on the moneymakers. These are just a few basic examples of how Product Listing architecture is situational, and just like search, every account needs a unique game plan that makes the most sense for the individual account.

Part 3: When your feed breaks

Something to keep in mind when working with Product Listing Ads is that feeds tend to break. If you’re not handling the feed on your end and an error goes unnoticed, it can be pretty costly. One way to combat this is to check the feed quality within the UI, weekly if you can, to make sure things look ok. You can’t access the whole feed per say as it’s a pretty high level snapshot, but you’ll be able to answer some important questions. Are there broken images? Mismatched pricing? Ultimately, you want to make sure the user experience isn’t suffering, as a result of a small oversight.

So why drink the Kool-Aid?

  • Product Listing Ads are visually appealing to consumers. When looking at topline metrics, PLA’s have on average a 34% higher CTR than traditional text ads.
  • Product Listing Ads for mobile was also recently announced, and I have a feeling if you’re there early you can take advantage of little competition and low CPC’s, just like many e-commerce advertisers did when Google Shopping became a paid model last October.
  • Google has begun rolling out 360-degree images, which will greatly improve the user experience. They’ve started with toys, but they will continue expanding in to other categories soon, and many advertisers are reporting awesome conversion rates.

Remember PLA’s don’t have to be scary. With higher CTR’s, a bright future in mobile, and improvements to the user experience, they should be a weapon in your search marketing arsenal. So stay calm, wrangle that data feed, and make sure you’re staking your claim!

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Matt Mason About the author

Graduate of Webster University, born and raised in the 636 (Saint Louis). Lover of good food and music. In my free time you may catch me banging on the drums or crushing rock walls around Seattle. You could also find me watching Netflix with my wife and cat. Every day is an adventure!

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