What Are Product Listing Ads (PLA Ads) and How Do They Work?

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What are Product Listing Ads or PLA’s?

Product Listing Ads is a service provided by Google. It allows customers to search for, view, and compare products. Now it is known as “Google Shopping Ads”.

This feature saves users from the need to create unique product advertisements. Why? It helps in incorporating the pictures, title, and description along with the price for every product in your ad listings. 

The process is handled by sophisticated Google algorithms. The role of PLAs is to ensure that the most pertinent information to potential customers is shown. 

Thus, it helps them understand if the product would be relevant to their search or not. Hence, merchants need to ensure that all pieces of information that customers would look for are present in the PLA.

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Where do Product Listing Ads appear?

a. Google Search results

The PLA Ads are positioned strategically by google. You will find them in the upper right corner or on the top of your traditional searches.

These advertisements appear over the traditional Text ads. It is not optimized to suit the keywords. Instead, the ads are customized with respect to the product images and the product themselves. 

This is one of the reasons why PLA ads are highly effective. Most of the time all your search engine results pages will have the PLA ads based on the products you look for.

b. Shopping tab on Google SERP

Search results also have a shopping section. Clicking on the shopping section will redirect you to a page that features all the PLA ads.

Here, you will be able to customize your search based on your needs. For example, the shopping tab allows you to find and filter products based on a budget, color, and even brand. 

This helps online users fine-tune their searches. Just like the top right corner or above your text ads, these advertisements also have the ratings, price details, and a description of the product. Additionally, you will have a picture of the product too.

c. PLA ads appear on Image search

PLA ads have now been introduced into the image search too. Here, you will be able to see all related products (from e-commerce stores) at the top, just below your search bar. The content shown in image searches is carefully grouped together, based on commonly sought user categories. 

Upon clicking a category, you will be able to see more such products and other carousels with product categories that are “even” more fine-tuned. The carousel of PLA ads shown along with image searches will have a picture and a price range. You will not see any description or product title! Mainly because the carousel had a more generalized display of PLA ads.

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d. PLA ads appear in the Google Shopping app

The google shopping application is another spot where you will find the PLA ads. This is an app that helps you search for products. Indeed, the google shopping app is a catalog of all brands and products featured in their stores.

When compared with mobile applications, and the desktop version of SERPS, you will not see the PLA ads towards the right of searches in mobile devices. This is overcome by the exquisite google shopping app.

e. PLA ads appear on YouTube and GDN

Finally, you will be able to see PLA ads in partnered websites like YouTube and even the google display network.

The ads displayed on these platforms are “also” carefully tailored to suit the searches executed by the online user. Clicking on the PLA ads would redirect to the merchants’ official store.

Benefits of Product Listing Ads

When compared to any other shopping channel, Google Shopping tends to have more traffic. This means, finding a spot in google PLA, makes a big difference.

a. Higher click-through rates

First of all, PLA ads will improve your CTR. When compared to traditional text-based advertisements, the PLA ads can improve traffic by nearly three times. The lead you secure through these ads will be more relevant to your page too. This is one of the main reasons why PLA ads are preferred over text-based ones.

Brands that invest more in PLA ads, along with text-based advertisements are bound to see an increase in traffic.

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b. Higher conversion rate

Moving on, PLA ads lead to improved conversion rates. For example, the ads will be shown only when a relevant search is made. This means someone who is interested in buying ought to see your PLA ads. 

Thus, the chance of you securing an order increases. This directly translates to better conversion rates.

For example, if someone wants to buy shoes and your store sells shoes – then google would display your products as a part of the PLA ads. And, someone looking for laptops will never see your ads. This behavior definitely makes lots of sense in the sales funnel of e-commerce stores.

c. It is easier to manage

Google often delights its users with a simple dashboard and multiple platforms where data can be tracked easily. Conversely, it is quite simple for you to manage your Google PLA ads. 

You are given a dashboard where reports can be generated, and your advertisements can be managed.

Regardless of how many advertisements or products you have – all the listings can be managed from a single platform. You can add, delete, and modify product information from the dashboard.

Your only focus should be on the product feed. This is because google algorithms use the product feed to map queries against products.

d. You can get a broader reach

Google is used by billions around the world. If the global market is your target, you need to work on your PLA Ads on google. This is because you will be able to reach vast audiences. On average, hundreds of thousands of people search for products on Google. 

Unlike other platforms where you need to grab the attention of target audiences, Google takes care of this via PLA Ads. You don’t need to be technically equipped to attract the masses. Hence, the process of reaching a big group of people becomes simpler with PLAs.

e. Powerful reporting

Another important benefit of using the product listing advertisements would be efficient reporting. You will be able to generate timely reports. Also, the platform has an interface that tracks every operation done by your team or you on the product listings.

Google analytics blends seamlessly with PLA Ads. As mentioned previously, a single platform is used to keep an account of everything. The performance of every advertisement can be tracked to extended levels of granularity.

For example, you can even understand how many clicks each of your products received via the PLA Ads.

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How to create your first Product Listing ad?

a. First, you’ll need to set up your Merchant Center account.

First of all, you need to create a Google Merchant Center Account. This will act as a hub, from which you can track all your advertisements, campaigns, and analytics. 

You need a single merchant center for managing all your stores and ads. The merchant center account needs to be complete. This means, your business name, website, and contact information along with the product specifics need to be up to date.

Next, you have to enter both primary and secondary user details. This defines who is allowed to access and make changes to your merchant account. Multiple roles and access rules can be created to control the merchant center.

b. Verify and claim your website URL.

Once the merchant center is up, you need to verify the URL. These steps help google realize that you are the sole owner of the e-commerce store. Google maintains a few areas that can be accessed only by the owner.

Such areas are carefully marked. There are four different verification strategies in the Google Merchant Center. One of these verification methods needs to be chosen.

After the website URL is verified, you can claim the store. Claiming gives the owner exclusive rights of the Google Merchant Center. Now, content marked by google can be viewed and edited by the owner of the store.

c. Set up your tax and shipping preferences.

The shipping and tax charges mentioned in your merchant center must match with your product site. This is important because customers are likely to verify the data provided on both platforms. 

Any deviation will increase the chances of them picking another store. Shipping services can be configured at the account level and user across the stores.

Every tax and shipping setting in your store will have a unique label. This helps users configure as many shipping (or tax) settings as required. Before you make these changes, go through the Google Guide on how to define shipping and taxes for products.

d. Make sure your store compiles all requirements & Policies for google shopping ads.

One of the most important things for any Google product would be the policies and requirements. It is crucial for businesses to follow all the requirements imposed by the platform. 

When it comes to Google Merchant Center, there is a comprehensive guide that speaks about all the rules and regulations your store needs to follow. Make sure that your store complies with these standards.

Failing to follow the standards, requested by google will only reduce your rank and cut down the traffic your store sees. From simple things like keyword usage to linking to buying a strong product feed – be aware of the merchant center’s expectations.

e. Create your Product Feeds.

You might have come across the use of product feeds, by now. 

By definition, product feeds are built by store owners for the Google Merchant Center. It is a huge collection of products that are hosted by the store. The product feed should describe each and every product. 

It must carry meaningful information like product title, price, reviews, description, and offers. When a user executes a search, the search engine matches the request against the product feed for potential matches. If there is a match, it will be displayed on the search engine results page.

As your product feed becomes more professional and informative, the chances of your store getting displayed on the search results page, and as a part of the PLA Ads increases.

f. Link Merchant Center Account to Google Ads

Google ads campaigns need to be leveraged by the merchant center and google ads. This is because google ads campaign has a wide range of data-centric and campaign tools that any online store would need. 

Linking your google merchant account with ads will help in inventory management and dynamic re-remarketing. Moreover, the flow of information between ads and the merchant center becomes simple with the link.

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g. Set your Country of sale

The country of sale defines the regions where your products are sold and can be shipped exclusively. When a country is chosen, crucial pieces of information like the taxes and shipping rules need to be modified based on the region.

The country of sale is important because shipping rules assigned by google differs from one place to another. Two, shipping offers to depend on the place. 

Three, the PLA Ads could be in the beta stage in some countries. Without defining the country of sale, you’d not be able to know if the PLA Ads would be shown or not.

h. Set up your Bidding strategy & daily budget

The bidding strategy determines how much you are willing to spend on the clicks of your ads. This bid needs to be assigned when you create an ad and a campaign. 

The bid can be modified even after the campaign goes live. Once again, there are many factors to be considered while you decide on a bid.

The daily budget determines how much you are willing to spend when someone clicks on an ad. Just like the bidding amount, the daily budget can be modified anytime after you create the ad and campaign.

Most of the time, the budget and bid need to be modified based on your traffic goals, and real-time performance.

i. Set up your Campaign Priorities

Campaign priorities are essential if a single product is used as a part of multiple campaigns. The campaign should be hosted in the same country as well. The priority determines the amount of money you are willing to spend on a product, which is associated with the campaign. 

If there are two campaigns, the one with a higher priority will bid. The moment your high priority campaign goes out of money, the next campaign in line will become effective. If the priority of multiple campaigns is the same, the bid amount is used to make a decision.

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j. Add enhancements to your ads

i. Special offers

PLA Ads can be associated with the Promotions Data Feed. This makes it simple to display details about various offers and promotions along with your products. The special offer display does not incur any extra cost. 

However, your cost per click charges applies to the promotional information too. Online promotions can be associated with product shopping advertisements.

The promotions will expire within 6 months and will be redeemable only during checkout.

Currently, merchant promotions are available in Australia, France, Germany, India, the UK, Canada, and the US.

ii. Product ratings

Product ratings play an integral role in any Google PLA Ad. It helps shoppers understand the product better. The shopping ads feature the total count of reviews and a 5-star rating review. The rating is calculated as an aggregation of the feedback offered by existing customers. 

Multiple sources are used to capture feedback. This includes third party sites and even editorial sites. For the rating to be displayed against your shopping PLA ad, there should be at least three reviews. The ratings will be specific to a product, and not a store or business.

Also, the reviews are displayed only when the information collected is genuine and accurate.

iii. Google Customer Reviews

Google’s customer reviews are absolutely free. It is a service offered by Google, where feedback about a product is secured from the customers. Anyone who has purchased the product can take the survey to share their views and experience about the product. Ratings and reviews given by these customers will be used to evaluate the seller and product.

There are four major benefits in using google customer reviews: determine seller rating, determine product rating, secure a badge for your store (the stars in your badge depend on seller rating), and ensure customer engagement.

k. Success your Product listing ad is live now.

Once you take care of the above factors, your PLA ads are ready to go live. Now, your products will be displayed whenever a customer executes a search, looking for the products in your feed (Google merchant center).

Without completing the steps mentioned above, it will be difficult to grab the attention of online customers. From building a product feed to securing reviews and a five-star rating badge, every step discussed above makes an impact on your store’s online presence.

Product Listing Ad FAQ

a. What is a Product Listing Ad?

Product Listing Ads is a feature from Google. It is strongly coupled with Google merchant center and Google’s campaigns. The ads are displayed whenever a user executes a search in the Search Engine. It is displayed in multiple places. 

The most common seen PLA ads appear on top of your search results page. When the search is executed in a browser, you will see the ads on the top right corner of the page. The ads are made visible on the images tab, shopping tab and even in google partnered tools like YouTube.

The PLA Ads feature important information about the product. It has an image, rating, a total number of reviews, a title, and a simple description to give additional information about the product.

 b. How do you Create Product Listing Ads?

Creating a product listing ad in google is rather simple. Firstly, the Google Merchant Center needs to be linked to Google Adwords. Following on, you have to create a Google Campaign. 

Once the campaign is created, ads can be grouped together and assigned to a specific campaign. Every campaign has priorities, and based on priority the ads will be displayed to online users.

After the basics are done, you can define the targeting options. The targeting options help in displaying ads based on your target audiences, and product.

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c. What is PLA in digital marketing?

The PLA Ads prove to be useful in any digital marketing effort. It aids brands in displaying their products against user searches. Indeed, investing adequate time and effort in this platform will increase your chances of being seen by potential customers. 

Unlike many other marketing methods, PLA Ads are highly product-oriented. The data displayed in the ads have product-specific information like price, title, description, and even ratings. They are not stored or business-oriented.

Since the ads are displayed along with searches, it makes it simpler to grab the attention of potential target audiences.

d. What is PLA paid search?

PLA ads is a paid search. You need to pay only for the results generated by the ad. To be more precise, if a click translates to business via the PLA ads, you need to pay. Else, the feature doesn’t cost you a dime.

Also, PLA is a paid search facility where you can define your budget and capping. The moment your budget is reached, you don’t need to worry about overspending. 

Yet, this budget can be modified easily. This means the budget assigned to every product or campaign can be altered separately.

e. Where are Product Listing ads displayed?

Product listing ads are displayed in six different places.

  1. You will see the ads on top of every search engine results page.
  2. The ads are displayed on the top right corner of the searches.
  3. The ads are displayed in the images tab.
  4. The ads are displayed in the shopping tab.
  5. The ads are displayed on partnered websites like YouTube.
  6. The ads are seen in the Google Shopping App.
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f. How do I list a product on Google Shopping?

To list a product in Google shopping, you need to create a product feed and add it to your Google Merchant Center. Then, the ad needs to be associated with a Google Campaign. Thus, it is all ready to go live.

Conclusion

On the whole, Google Merchant Center, Google Campaigns, and AdWords are pulled together to form the Google PLA ADs. This feature is all about giving your products the visibility it needs in the online industry. 

Upon user searches, the ads will be displayed in multiple places. With the help of the topics, tips, and strategies discussed above, you can build Content for Google PLA Ads, and generate better leads (traffic) towards your store.

About the author

Karthik Ramachandiran

Google Ads Expert From Bengaluru. Share his Expertise Here