Product Listing Ads

Ten tips to summon customers with your Google Shopping campaigns

August marked the 20th anniversary of the first ever online transaction – a copy of Sting’s album Ten Summoner’s Tales.

Since then, ecommerce has gone from strength to strength with 95% of us now shopping online.

In the same way music trends have come and gone, over the last two decades marketers have had to evolve the way they engage with consumers online; fielding both shifts in consumer behaviour and the way Google displays its results.

If there is one thing that retail marketers have learned about advertising on search engines over the years it’s that relevancy is a key to success. Google’s latest update aims to make this easier. Google Shopping ads (previously known as product listing ads or PLAs) were introduced this month to allow advertisers to set up and manage campaigns in a more intuitive way.

However, with the vast number of marketers who have grown accustomed to PLAs and already have existing PLA campaigns running, there are undoubtedly many wondering how this change will affect them.

Below are my own ten ‘summoning’ tips for marketers to help make the most of the change from PLAs to Google Shopping.

Google Shopping explained: how to get started

Once known as Google Product Search and way before that known also as Froogle (which in terms of puns isn’t the most fitting, surely nobody involved wants you to be economical with your cash), now simply Google Shopping, this is a service that lets consumers search for products and compare prices through Google Search.

Previously I had assumed that consumer products appeared on SERPS through an ecommerce site’s own specific markup or through the relative strength of the Google algorithm.

This is no longer necessarily true. Since Google Product Search transformed into Google Shopping, ecommerce sites now have to pay to have their products appear in these listings.

Google Shopping is not a place for organic listings, it’s a place for search marketers and advertisers to exploit. In some respects this is great, especially if you’re a small business with a significant enough budget to go up against the bigger brands. There’s theoretically much less competition now. 

Tablets account for a third of Boxing Day conversions and revenue from PPC

Tablet devices accounted for more than a third of conversions, revenue and spend from UK retail paid search on Boxing Day.

The data should come as no real surprise to anyone involved in ecommerce, however it is useful as further evidence of the continued consumer shift towards mobile devices.

It should also be noted that the festive period does present something of an anomaly in terms of site traffic, as data is skewed due to people being away from their work computers and also because tablets and smartphones are a popular Christmas gift.

Using Google PLAs? It’s time to get granular

I hate the word granular. I spend half my life tweaking and fiddling with PPC campaigns across different platforms.

The word granular invariably means spending even more time setting up campaigns. The problem is, the only way to achieve, monitor and maintain success in PPC is by going granular. The same holds true for Google Product Listing Ads.

I first went granular with my bog standard AdWords search network text ads soon after starting out in PPC. I went granular with my Product Listing Ads at a much later stage however.

When I first setup Product Listing Ads (PLAs) I had to do so with the assistance of the official Google documentation and a few third party guides. It’s all a bit fiddly.

Most of these guides seemed to encourage large ad groups for one reason or another. Against my better judgement I just went along with it, wasting thousands of pounds in the process.

CPCs for Google Shopping ads have increased 53% year-on-year: report

The cost per click (CPC) of Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) has increased by 53% year-on-year, reaching an all time high in June as the search engine finally completed the transition of shopping results to a commercial model.

Though PLAs are still cheaper than standard text paid search ads, it shows that Google has successfully managed to cause a massive increase in CPCs by changing how the ad formats work.

In fact, PLA CPCs have increased by 34% since January alone and costs are likely to continue rising despite a slight drop off in July, which is likely as a result of seasonality.

The new paid Google Shopping: pros and cons

We’re six weeks or so into the migration of retailers’ product listings on Google to the new Google Shopping.

Retailers now have to pay for Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to appear in Google’s Shopping section (they appear either on the right hand side of the page, or just below the ads, above the natural results).

As before, these ads are linked to the retailer’s product feed on its website.

Google Product Listing Ads making the move to Europe

The arrival of Google Product Listing Ads (PLA) in the UK is a mixed blessing for the advertising world.  

While retailers will no longer benefit from the free traffic they were receiving from Google product search, it gives advertisers more granular control over product listings, bids and traffic, allowing them to work out what’s going where and when, and distribute budget as necessary.

Google Shopping ads see increase in clicks and impressions during 2012: report

On 13 February Google Shopping will transition from a free to a paid for service that is only available to Product Listing Ad customers.

The service moved to a commercial model in the US in October, causing some annoyance among merchants who had been enjoying the free extra traffic that Google Shopping brings.

But new research from Marin Software suggests that advertisers who have launched PLA campaigns in the US have achieved a great deal of success.

More than 100,000 retailers had inventory in Google Shopping by the end of September 2012 and reaped the rewards during the holiday season.