Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on Google Shopping present a way for eCommerce marketers to reach targeted, specific, and ready-to-purchase consumers. PLAs are the images people see when searching for a particular product in a search engine. They are paid image ads specifically used by eCommerce retailers, to drive traffic to specific product pages. With a 22% higher clickthrough rate than paid text ads, these image based ads have proven they gain the attention of online searchers. PLAs allow consumers (and businesses) to quickly see a product, its price, and the seller’s brand name. With a click on the image, the potential customer goes directly to the product page of your eCommerce store to learn more information about purchasing that particular item.


*Google has recently done some consolidation and updates within Adwords and during your research you should consider PLAs and “Google Shopping Campaigns” synonymous for all intensive purposes.*

The Difference between PLAs and PPC?

As we mentioned, PLAs are the image ads found in search results, the more common ads we see in search engines are often referred to as PPC or “text ads”, as these ads are made up completely of text and look similar to the “organic” search engine results. For Google advertising both can be managed from your Adwords account, however how you manage and execute advertising strategies can differ greatly between the two.

Main Differences include:

  • Landing Page vs Data Feed:  PPC text ads are created by simply designing an ad within Adwords and directing the ad to a landing page within your website. PLAs require you to submit a “data feed” which is a list of your products with associated information such as the price, description, product page URL, and product image. These are usually submitted via a spreadsheet or automated 3rd party tool.
  • Keyword Targeting: Unlike PPC ads you can not select keywords to bid on. PLAs are shown in a similar fashion to organic search results in that Google determines if your ad is relevant to the searcher’s query. They determine your ad’s relevancy by the direct data feed you submit and the they keywords found in the product title, description, and categories.
  • Ad Design & Copy:  PLA Ads are not designed and modified like a PPC Ad. Ads are formed from the data feed you submit.
  • No Guarantees: PLAs are at the mercy of Google’s algorithms to determine their relevancy and thus probability to be shown in search results. Unlike PPC in which you can buy your way to the search results.

Why utilize PLAs?

Outside of the conversion numbers mentioned in the start of the article, PLAs are built for targeting those who are seeking to buy, or those with high “commercial intent” and therefore are considered more valuable. Solid numbers on click to purchase rates are difficult to aggregate across all the PLAs and their advertisers, but if you think about it, it makes sense.

PLAs are meant to service those that have high commercial intent by directing them straight to the product page where they can find more information on purchasing. Those that click on these ads are a) expecting to go directly to view a product and b) have a good sense of the product they are clicking on given the ad’s image. These are the customers we consider to be in the bottom of the sales funnel and their clicks are very valuable, rather than those higher up in the funnel who are in more of the research and consideration phase. When a searcher is presented with the search result options, those that are in the research phase (and less likely to purchase) would likely be searching for information that is often the content in an organic search result. You could argue the same for PPC ads in which searchers are often directed to category or branded landing pages and are suited for those in the consideration phase.

How to get started?

  1. Merchant Center: First thing you will want to do is setup your Google Merchant Center where you will be submitting your data feed.
  2. Data Feed: You will then want to upload your data feed of product information to the Google Merchant Center.
  3. Link to Adwords: Head to the settings in your Merchant center account and link the accounts.
  4. Setup a Campaign: Once in Adwords create a new campaign and select the campaign type “Product listing Ads” or  likely “Shopping” for most Adwords accounts.
  5. Adjust Campaign: Make the campaign setting adjustments in the same fashion PPC text adjustments would be made.
  6. Run your Ads: Note that search visibility is not guaranteed and you will want to continuously sculpt your product data feeds and product pages to improve impressions and clicks.

 Here are a few videos from Google to help you get setup…

Getting your Merchant Account setup

Get started with your first PLA Campaign

By | 2024-02-05T04:41:39-05:00 December 22nd, 2014|

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Analytics Addict, Outdoors Enthusiast, eCommerce/Marketing Blogger, & Startup Founder.