Google Product Search used to be a free service where companies which were selling products online used to have their products appear on “shopping” ads in search results. Although products will still be listed in Google shopping, since October 17th Google Shopping has been moving to a commercial model built on Product Listing Ads (PLA), which means that merchants will need to pay to have their products shown on the search pages. According to Google, the reason behind this transition was “to get better data from merchants in order to build a better shopping experience for users”. No mention of additional revenue for Google, though…

What is Google Product Listing Ads?

Products listings ads work within Google Adwords in a similar way as their text ad counterparts. However, the ads are created in Adwords from a product feed supplied by the merchant in the Google Merchant Centre (Your Merchant Centre and Adwords must be linked). This enables the creation of highly targeted ads with richer product information: product image, price, title, offers and merchant’s name. When a user enters a search query relevant to a product in their Google Merchant Centre account, Google will show the most relevant advert for that product. Similarly to Pay-Per-Click in standard text ads, merchants are charged every time a user clicks on their Product Listing Advert, but not for simply displaying the advert.
One of the advantages of Product Listing Ads is that they let you advertise specific products along with text ads so you can have two types of ad displayed, if you can afford the budget.

How can Product Listing Ads be relevant to your business?

Although a very new service, some studies have already been done in the U.S. as it started there earlier. So far, the most comprehensive study was done by Kenshoo, a global leader in digital marketing software. Kenshoo found that Google PLAs outperformed text ads in many areas:

  • Click-through rate (CTR ) was 73% higher
  • Conversion rate (CVR) was 35% higher
  • Average cost-per-click (CPC) was 36% lower
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS) was 46% higher

Although encouraging, those metrics should obviously be read with caution as more data need to be provided from different sources.

Should you use Google Product Listing ads for your business?

I personally think businesses who sell products online should give it go.   Our early tests have been hampered by feed problems, but initial impressions were good, with a noticeably higher return on investment.
It is true that this service is new and needs some more time to mature but it is also true that it is modelled on a very successful, tried and tested advertising platform: Adwords.
Last but not least (I believe this is probably the most interesting factor), by using Google Product Listing ads you are getting closer to customer intent to buy. To the contrary of text ads, PLAs are not triggered by broad terms but by specific queries, that directly relate to a product you sell, typed by people who are already looking to buy.
I’d recommend trying it before your competition does.  Tempted?