Killing it With Product Listings

Aug 18, 2015

When today’s consumers are considering a product, more than 60 percent of them turn to the web to research before making a purchase. Most consumers begin their search by typing a few words into a search engine like Google, not by going to a specific website.

Product listing ads, which had a 47% higher click through rate than traditional Google PPC ads in 2013 alone, are a great way to capture those search-engine shoppers.

Having your images and products at the top of a search result, instead of your competitors’ products, is crucial for brand awareness and driving traffic to your ecommerce site. Follow these tips to optimize your product listings and take your company to the top (of a Google Search result!)

What are Product Listing Ads?

Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are advertisements you can purchase through Google AdWords that appear on search result pages like Google, Google Shopping, and Bing.  These advertisements can also show up on Amazon and other price comparison sites.  Companies like Godatafeed make it possible to easily push one product feed from your site to multiple comparison shopping sites at once.

When consumers see PLA’s in search engine results, they’ll see a picture of the product, its price, and the store name along with the organic search results.  Just like traditional CPC ads, companies are charged per click, and just like CPCs, customers who click on PLAs are then directed to company sites where they can purchase the product.  We’ve Googled “ping pong table” to show you an example of a product listing.

Product Listing Ad placement example for ping pong table

PLAs are different from other paid ads in that they feature an image of the product and a price. They are also optimized for specific products and product categories rather than keywords. PLAs are listed on Google Shopping first and then can show up on searches depending on bids and performance, which will give products even more exposure.

How do Product Listing Ads Work?

When a Google user searches for an item, Google matches that search to information stored in your product feed. The product feed is a file you create that contains all the information Google needs to match your products with search users. You’ll include any product details, pricing information, and various customization options to help you narrow your target audience including target times, locations, and devices.

Optimizing Your Product Listing Ads

Getting your PLAs in front of the right people can be a tricky adventure, and there are many places you can get tripped up and get your ads removed from Google Shopping.  The most important factor in creating high performing PLAs is writing great product titles that include brand, product title, and category.  These should be different than what they are named on your site, and may require assistance from your development team.

The next place to optimize your ads is the product feed. Google provides a detailed outline of what attributes to use for different products and highlights a few common ways your items may get disapproved. In order to have the best performing PLAs possible, you’ll also need to ensure that your product descriptions are accurate and effectively communicate to your customer base.

While having a detailed list is helpful, it can be difficult for a beginner to understand the complexities of the product feed, let alone fine tune it to maximize spending. For retailers with more than a few dozen products, it can be helpful to work with someone who specializes in PLAs to avoid wasting advertising dollars and prevent unlisted items due to errors.

Managing Your Budget

To see a positive return on your investment, make sure you are investing at the right level. It is important to know upfront how much you are willing to spend on your PLAs and break this down to how much you can spend per day. Once you have that figured out, it’s time to get your bids right. The bid formula is the same as AdWords in that you are charged on a per-click basis. You set your maximum bid but only pay the smallest amount necessary to beat the bid below yours. The key is to set your bid high enough that your ads get shown, but not so high that you run out of money early in the day.

Getting it right involves carefully monitoring the results of previous days while factoring in any display rules you have set including the time of day to show your ads, whether to show on mobile or desktop, locations, etc.

The Help You Need

The concept behind product listing ads is simple: you provide a few specs about your products, and Google will show them to people who are searching for them. On the other hand, as with so many services from Google, setting up and optimizing PLAs can be a complicated headache. Don’t try to do it alone, contact NPWS for killer product listings now.

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