A brief past of Product Listing Ads –
Before we used Google Shopping Ads and Product Listing Ads interchangeably, Product Listing Ads aka PLAs were search ads with richer information. Richer information was in the form of product image, price, and merchant name, no additional ad text or keyword wasn’t required. When a search query was relevant to any of the products in the Merchant Center account, Google automatically listed those products.
Google charged a commission on Product Listing Ads earlier on a commission-based CPA (Cost-per-acquisition) model. Therefore, an advertiser pays only when a user makes a purchase triggered by a PLA.
How was Google Shopping different?
Google Shopping was popularly known as Froogle. It was a product listing and price comparison platform. Merchants had to feed Google a list of their products and Google hosted these products for free. In 2012, Google eliminated this model of the free product listing.
Product Listing Ads aka Google Shopping Ads –
In the recent times, the differences between PLAs and GSAs have blurred an extent where not many advertisers consider them different. But are they different? No, they aren’t. Earlier when Google Shopping was a free listing and comparison service, there was a significant difference. Google Shopping website isn’t active all across the globe either. And only a few selected countries have access to Google Shopping website.
Advertisers use Google AdWords to run shopping campaigns. Merchant Center hosts product information in the form of product feed. And Google Shopping Ads (including PLAs) use a CPC (cost-per-click) model to calculate costs.
And to sum up, Google Shopping Ads now include Product Listing Ads. AdWords is where you set bids and organize campaigns. Merchant Center hosts the product inventory and Google imports the inventory in the form a feed.
Please note that we dedicated a blog talking about Google Shopping Ads related topics in detail because Google Shopping is a diverse topic. Do read the blog for a better idea of the same.