Product listing ads (PLA) are product ads which are part of Google’s paid search. They are always shown when a user searches for a specific product based on a relevant keyword or keyword combination. PLAs are also known as Google Shopping or Google Product Search. Froogle was the official name until 2007 and Google Base until 2005. Advertisers have to pay for these product ads based on a Cost Per Click model and provide the necessary ad data to the publisher, in this case Google, since February 2013.
Product listing ads are the second product of the Google portfolio in addition to Google Ads, which allows online stores to place products in the Google search. PLAs are known under the name Google Shopping. Google Shopping was formerly also called Froogle. However, there was disagreement among users and concerns about the naming rights.
The Froogles website was often confused with Froogle and Google wanted avoid a legal dispute. Therefore, Google Shopping became the official name in 2012. Since February 2013 product listing ads are no longer free. However, early adopters received an initial discount of 10% and existing users were credited $100 to their AdWords account.
You must have a Google AdWords account and a Google Merchant Center account to use product listing ads. The AdWords account must be linked to the Merchant Center, because product listing ads are dependent on a product feed. This product feed is fed in CSV format into the Merchant Center and charged on your AdWords account. It is the centerpiece of product listing ads, since it includes data such as product name, associated product category, product price, a product image, and a description that contains certain characteristics, such as color or model type.
These and other data such as EAN (European Article Number), shipping costs or availability should be absolutely accurate because Google determines the display of PLAs based on the product feed. If someone searches for a smartphone in black or for a particular model, Google will show these products only if the relevant features are noted in the product feed. If there is an error in the product feed, the ads will not be shown at all.
The concept of product listing ads and data feed has a special significance. Google offers features such AdGroups and AdLabel to segment the products from the feed. That way the product portfolio can be sorted and categorized. This has the purpose of presenting a clear and structured product display and to confirm click prices or bids on the portfolio.
The use of defined goals and a fine tuning of bids is advisable. Since Google uses a bid model to determine the click prices, you should pay attention to values such as return on investment and cost per click. Therefore, the long-term optimization of the data feed is an absolute must to ensure that effort and financial commitment corresponds to conversion rates which are expected and defined as targets.
Product listing ads can have a positive effect on traffic, page views, and conversions. However, this depends on a good implementation of the product feed. This shouldn’t be only accurate, but also up to date, since the rapid availability of product data is a competitive advantage over competing online stores. The use of experience with AdWords is advantageous because some advertisements will have lower conversion rates and serve merely as a supplier of traffic. Other Product Ads promise higher conversion rates and should be monitored and optimized, possibly even seasonally, to pick up on trends and popular buying time periods. The data of the product feeds can be used especially in the long-tail keyword area of search engine optimization.
If a user searches for a particular product using a keyword combination, not only the Google Shopping results will be shown, but also the appropriate product page in the organic search. But this will only be the case if appropriate SEO measures have been taken. The long-tail keyword area holds potentials that can be tapped with the data from the product feed and appropriate actions. However, the product feed is only the first step and long-term optimization on certain keyword combinations is the second. If these potentials are utilized, you can achieve increased visibility of certain products in the organic and paid search.