How PLAs are Taking Over Google Search Results

May 8, 2014

Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are dominating the Google search results, stealing traffic and conversions from other pay-per-click (PPC) display ads as well as organic results. Early studies have shown that PLAs have a 150 percent better clickthrough rate compared to conventional PPC ads, and a 23 percent higher conversion rate. In short, Google has taken branded product marketing to a new level, practically forcing marketers to include PLAs in their marketing budget.

PLAs are image-driven ads that appear at the top of the Google search results, and typically include an image, product description, price, and the URL of the retailer. The idea is to bring consumers together with a product and merchant, providing sufficient buying information to drive an immediate online sale.

Are PLAs Really Effective?

Whenever someone does a Google search for a product name, PLAs automatically appear at the top of the results page, effectively crowding out non-PLAs as well as organic results. PLAs are particularly effective because they feature product images as well as pricing information, making them a slam-dunk choice for consumers in a buying mode.

  • On a typical results page containing multiple PLAs, an estimated 65 percent of all clicks are going to the ads, which only leaves about 35 percent for organic results.
  • Conversion rates for the remaining 35 percent tend to be lower because much of the buying intent has already been spent on the PLAs. Searchers who have bypassed the PLAs in favor of organic results are much less likely to be in a buying mode.

google plasBuyer intent gets into the mind of the search engine user. Some searches are done to conduct initial research about a product while others are made when someone is ready to buy. PLAs speak directly to the consumer ready to buy by providing

  • The product name
  • An image of the product they’re interested in
  • The price
  • A URL where they can go to purchase the product

How to get Started With PLA Marketing

  • Your first step is to set up a Google Merchant Center account. Do a search for Google Merchant Center and click on the first result.
  • Complete all required information fields, such as the name of your store, a brief description of what you offer, your website URL, and your location.
  • When you log into your new Google Merchant Account, you’ll need to integrate it with a Google Adwords account.
  • Next step is to create your first campaign. Create a descriptive title for your campaign, and choose the countries that you want your PLAs to appear in.
  • Specify your bid and budget. You can set a maximum cost per click as well as your daily budget.
  • Click on ‘data feed’ in the side bar, then click on ‘new data feed’ to provide the information that Google will use to display your PLAs. You’ll need to provide specific information about the products you would like to sell. Give your data feed a specific title for each product category. Be sure to specify that you want to use Google spreadsheets to store your data.