Crash Course on Google Product Listing Ads

Google Product Listing

Google Product Listing Ads (PLA’s) are ad units served through AdWords on a cost per click (CPC) basis. Online consumers are exposed to this type of ad on the top or top right of the SERPs (search engine results page), and each ad showcases a featured product image that are personalized towards a specific product keyword/category. In this blog, we give you a crash course on Google’s Product Listing Ads and provide best practices for segmenting product types into their corresponding categories.

Since Google Product Listing Ads showcase a featured image (unlike their AdWord’s text-only ad counterpart), this particular format has significant impact on ecommerce campaigns. Product listing ads target individual products and product groups, such as ‘food slicer,’ ‘kitchen tools,’ or ‘food slicer under $20.’

Before allocating substantial budget to PLA’s, consider the volume of the product inventory you sell; if your inventory volume is less than 500 products, your ads might struggle with getting visibility on Google Shopping. Further, certain product categories, like automotive or furniture, offer more revenue opportunities unlike competitive segments such as apparel.

Since the launch of Penguin 2.0 in 2012, an algorithm that combats webspam, Google has tightened the reigns on site quality and links, and any website shortcomings can negatively affect your campaign’s performance.

In order to best organize each product within the most granular segment, Google uses a Product Taxonomy comprised of 5,427 categories. Advertisers can use of one of Google’s predefined product categories or can use the ‘product type’ attribute and submit your own product categories. It is best practice to use the MOST SPECIFIC category possible –

Home & Garden > Kitchen & Dining > Tableware > Salt & Pepper Shakers VERSUS just “kitchen”

Sample Google Product Taxonomy Categorization

Google Product Listing Ad

When categorizing your product, select the category that best summarizes the product’s main function. Google’s support blog offers the example of an MP3 player, explaining that even though a MP3 player may have dual functionality as a clock and music player, it’s utility aligns best with Electronics > Audio > Audio Players & Recorders > MP3 Players.

Organizing your products by the functions they are affiliated with will ultimately better connect your Product Listing Ads with search queries from online consumers.

Standard Optimization

  1. Bid against performance segmented by time of day, day of the week and geolocation
  2. Analyze and check cost per click in relation to ad position and conversion, and then adjust bids (increase or decrease) accordingly
  3. Apply A/B tests to different featured images to assess click through rate performance (CTRs)
  4. Additionally, employ A/B tests to discover which promotions or wording drives more engagement

Evaluate campaign segmentation by device, search partners, etc.