What Are Product Listing Ads?
As a form of search engine marketing, shopping campaigns or product listing ads (PLA) are a type of ad unit e-commerce retailers use to show products in Google and Bing. The key difference between a search campaign and a shopping campaign is how the ad is created. Instead of targeting specific keywords, writing a headline and description for a standard text-based ad, the ad unit is created based off of attributes in a product data feed.
Ads are shown in the search engine result page (SERP), typically at the top of results or to the right of results. You’ll also notice product ads in Google Images and unapologetically large product ads in mobile search results.
Why Are PLAs Important?
Shopping campaigns have become a major contributor to online sales for retailers in recent years. What began as a small area of ads on the Google SERP has now turned into multiple locations and ad types (image ads, showcase ads, express ads, etc.). It’s clear Google is investing into this channel and it’s technology, and it’s estimated that 60% of advertising budgets are now dedicated to shopping campaigns. It’s become a major growth channel for Bing as well, as many Google features have been adopted into the Microsoft Ads platform.
Similar to Google, Bing presents shopping ads prominently in the SERP either at the top of results or to the right-hand side. Bing shopping campaigns are also built off of a product data feed and have their own ads manager where campaigns are established.
Shopping Campaigns Begin with Product Data
The first step to starting with shopping campaigns on Google or Bing is to have a well-defined product data feed. The feed, generated from your e-commerce platform (Shopify, Magento, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, etc.), contains attributes like product titles, descriptions, images, price points, colors, finishes, materials, genders, product category hierarchy (taxonomy) and manufacturer part numbers. These product attributes are necessary to the creation of ads and must have proper upkeep.
Data feed management is the first step to getting a Google shopping campaign up and running.
Google & Bing Merchant Centers
Once a data feed is created, it is uploaded to the Google Merchant Center or the Bing Merchant Center. Each Merchant Center acts as the intermediary between your raw product data and Google Ads or Bing Ads.
The merchant centers provide advertisers with diagnostics about data feeds, merchandising recommendations and they offer a few key marketing features. With a feed properly uploaded and accepted, Google and Bing create a visual ad consisting of your product’s image, title, description, price and rating. This dynamically created ad is what is ultimately shown to end users searching in either search engine.
Equally important to the data that goes into your product feed is the way you choose to structure shopping campaigns in Google or Bing.
Product listing ad campaigns can be structured by top performing products, brand vs. non-brand traffic, highest margin products, etc.
It’s important to evaluate what your number one KPI is for shopping campaigns (commonly revenue or ROAS), then build a grouping of campaigns to support that KPI. Of course, campaigns will evolve and change over time depending their performance.
Bidding, Search Queries & Ongoing Optimizations
Finally, with a solid campaign structure ready to go, bids are evaluated to be competitive with other retailers in your space and set accordingly. Shopping campaign bid management is the same as keyword-driven ads, based on a pay-per-click model. And much like text-based PPC, shopping ads can also be tailored to specific geographic locations, only shown on certain devices (desktop/tablet/mobile), only shown during certain times of the day and targeted to remarketing lists (RLFSA) or in-market audiences. Max CPCs adjust over time and continued optimizations are made to the data feed and product groupings, as dictated by performance of the campaigns.
One additional difference between search and shopping campaigns is how keywords are managed. In search, an advertiser picks a keyword to target and sets a bid to win the auction for that keyword. In PLA campaigns, the advertiser is promoting an entire product catalog segmented into different campaigns and the product catalog matches to user’s search queries. Advertisers then need to negate the search queries they do not want to match to so as to attract qualified traffic.
Sacramento PLA Management
While we offer Google shopping campaign management to nationwide clientele, we are Sacramento’s go-to source for PLA management. The number of e-commerce companies are on the rise in Sacramento and PLAs have become a vital type of marketing to get products in front of thousands of users of Google. Whether it is data feed help you need or a full campaign restructuring, we can help get your Sacramento-area e-commerce business back on track with Google shopping campaigns.
Pricing for Shopping Campaign Management
We custom quote data feed and Google shopping campaign management for product listing ads based on the size of the advertising account and the average monthly ad spend. Please contact us for your custom proposal.