Paid PLAs Impact Non-PLA Advertisers

December 13th, 2012 by Nikki Kuhlman

Google PLAsIf you have an ecommerce website, I’m seeing big changes for those clients who are NOT advertising on the Google Shopping Network using Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Google Shopping is one of the top comparison shopping engines, based on sheer volume of traffic. If you do a search on Google for something like “floor mats” you should see small thumbnail images of products with the price, title and website under them. Those are PLAs. Clicking on the image takes you directly to buy that product.

Google for years has offered both a free version and a paid (PPC) version, but started transitioning to a 100% paid platform in the US in May. The transition completed mid-October. Google has been experimenting with position (PLAs may be in the upper right, pushing search ads in positions 4 and higher further down on the page) and number of images (as few as two to as many as eight).

I noticed that those clients that do not have PLAs are seeing a big drop in impressions, clicks and conversions. The change was gradual, starting in June, but October saw the most impact. It’s particularly impacting those clients who were quite successful in positions 4 and higher.

If you have an ecommerce website and you are not doing PLAs, I highly encourage you to start. You can find out more information at http://www.google.com/ads/shopping/.

You’ll need to create a Google Merchant account and load your feed in Google-approved formats, and then keep the feed current, at minimum every 30 days. Once that’s done, you’ll also have to create PLA campaigns and manage them. The PLA campaigns are pay-per-click and there are ways to optimize them, just like regular Search and Display PPC. Just like any PPC campaign, don’t set-it-and-forget-it. If you’re looking to hire a PPC management company, make sure that they also have experience with successfully managing PLAs.

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