Study shows success of Google Product Listings

PLAs are a plus

A report published yesterday has demonstrated the rising adoption and success of Google's Product Listing Ads (PLAs).

The whitepaper by Marin Software examines the performance of PLAs since Google first transitioned them to the cost-per-click model in late 2012.

According to Marin's research, shoppers find the image-based ads "more relevant to their product searches"; click through rates for PLAs have risen every month since February 2013, and are up 19 per cent year-on-year. Since November 2012 the click through rate has been higher than that of standard text ads, reaching a record 21 per cent higher in June and July 2013.

As for retailers, adoption remains strong, with over a billion products currently listed on the system. In Marin's dataset, retailers were diverting an increasing share of spend towards PLAs, with a festive peak in December 2012. Cost-per-click meanwhile is lower than text ads, but is seeing large year-on-year increases - and hit a new high in June 2013.

The report concluded:

"For search marketers looking to build on the momentum of PLAs, optimizing the product feed, leveraging a granular campaign structure, and testing promotional text will be the key to long-term success."

Improving shopping experiences

The results of the report are good news for Google, after last year's announcement that Shopping would become a paid service stirred controversy. The product listings had previously been free and based on relevance, prompting some to suggest small businesses would miss out. A blog from Google explained that the shift was intended to "improve our shopping experience" by offering merchants more control and new formats.

Product Listing Ads rolled out in the UK in February 2013, and have been introduced in 11 other countries as well as the US. Campaigns are currently created automatically based on the product name and details, without the need to specify keywords or ad text. Bids then determine where the product ad will appear, both in Google's search and Shopping results.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, commented: "For the right kind of business, it's clear that Product Listing Ads could be beneficial. However, campaigns need to be carefully optimised to get the most out of them, particularly if cost-per-click continues to rise."