Google Shopping: What are Product Listing Ads?

Google Shopping: What are Product Listing Ads?

A Brief History Lesson

Does anyone remember a Google service named Froogle? Some of you may have an idea, while most will have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about. Froogle, launched back in 2002, was Google’s original attempt to create an online e-commerce search comparison tool. By 2007 the name changed to Google Product Search and was still being used as a free product listing tool. The next round of changes occurred in 2012 when it went from a free listing to a paid listing model and the name was changed to Google Shopping.

Google had already introduced Product Listing Ads via Google AdWords back in 2010, but it wasn’t until the change from Google Product Search into Google Shopping that all forms of free product listings were removed.

So while the terminology of the past can get confusing, here are the key points: Google Shopping is Google’s solution for Product Search. Within Google Shopping, you have Product Listing Ads (PLAs) which are managed via Google AdWords and Google Merchant Center. The Merchant Center allows you to manage your product information while AdWords is where you will manage your ads and campaigns. After both accounts are created you must then link your Merchant Center account with your AdWords account.

Getting Listed on Google Shopping

To begin advertising your products you must first create a Google Merchant Center account, separate from you AdWords account, and then upload your product feed to this new account. After this is done you can then begin creating the actual AdWords (PLA) campaign.

Now, this is where the terminology can get even more confusing, but hopefully I can explain the additional differences so they make sense. In order to get your products listed on Google Shopping, you had to create a traditional Search Network AdWords campaign, and then select the sub-type of “Product Listing Ads.” The actual explanation of this within the AdWords interface is “ads promoting your product inventory from Google Merchant Center.” Note: This campaign sub-type is being retired in late August and the new campaign type that was released out of beta back in mid-February is called “Shopping.”

Google’s New Shopping Campaigns

Where in the past you would select the Search Network and (PLA) sub-type, now when you go to create a new campaign within AdWords you will see “Shopping” listed at the bottom as the “best way to create Product Listing Ads”.

Wow, that was a lot to explain, but now I can finally go into the benefits of the new “Shopping” campaign type. One of the newest enhancements is the ability to actually view and organize your product inventory inside of AdWords; previously this was only available within the Google Merchant Center.

The great benefit here is that you are able to see, at the most granular level, how each product or brand is performing versus just a general group or category that was previously available. For example, if you sell shoes online you can create specific campaigns for the different types of shoes you want to advertise.

Additionally, you are now able to get an aggregate level of data on the performance of similar products being advertised. Using this data and the Bid Simulator tool will allow you to adjust your bids in order to remain competitive.

Creating Real Results

While much has been discussed on the history and functionality of Google Shopping, there still remains much to talk about in regards to campaign strategy and ongoing optimization. The results I have seen from a robust Shopping campaign are quite astounding. I have seen CPC’s that are 1/4th of what you would typically see on a regular search campaign. Another great result was seeing 80-90 percent of revenue generated coming from only 10 percent of the budget allocated to Product Listing Ads.

While these results may not always be possible for every advertiser, I feel confident in recommending a Google Shopping campaign to any and all online retailers. Furthermore, when combined with an expansive search campaign, you are able to take up more real estate on the Search Engine Results Page, reaching more people, selling more products and lowering your overall cost-per-acquisition.

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