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The Lowdown On Google Shopping and PLAs


Points to Note & Best Practices for PLAs

With Google’s announcement that legacy feeds will be migrated to the new type of AdWords campaign, Google Shopping by late August 2014, it’s time for you to rethink your online advertising strategy.

Managing High CPCs

Online shoppers are favoring PLAs over traditional text ads because a) these are more engaging and b) with the latest update, creating campaigns has become faster and simpler than ever before. In 2013, one in five paid shopping clicks was a Product Listing Ad (PLA). The launch of the new Google Shopping tool triggered a dramatic rise in CPC. While text ad CPC increased by 21% during 2013, PLA CPC grew substantially (141%). CPCStrategy has released the results of a study comparing Google PLA performance and Google Shopping Campaign performance over a three-week period prior to and following the campaign type switch.



The data collected over the last six months clearly indicates that while PLA CPC has almost doubled, CTR remains fairly stable though it dropped a bit. The Increasing competitiveness of PLA auctions will only lead to higher bids and CPC. With Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) changing dramatically, you need to ensure that you get back to the basics of paid search.

Points to note:

    – You should see to it that your bids aren’t high if the max CPC soars through the roof.
    – You need to track ad performance across multiple platforms such as mobile. A mobile ready website enhances shopper experience.
    – High CTR PLAs are also worth including in the campaign though they cost a bit more.

Best Practice:
A product feed that is optimized with relevant titles and descriptions gets a high quality score, which can reduce CPC. So, focusing on a high quality score is very important.

Understanding The New Feature For PLAs

Google’s ranking algorithm has been tweaked, so that when a user searches for the top/best products in a specific category, the 8 highest rated items (product star review) are displayed. A sticker on the upper left corner along with the rating as well as the total number of product reviews it is based on can be seen at the bottom of the image.

Points to note:

    – If you sell less than 500 products or products that are in a highly competitive category such as apparel, you may have trouble getting visibility on Google Shopping.
    – If you’re selling products that belong to any of these categories: automotive, baby supplies, tools, or furniture, but not listing them on Google Shopping, you’re likely missing out on a fair amount of revenue.
    – If you can’t spend a minimum of $1,000 on your PLA campaign, Google Shopping is not for you. While the daily budget and bids vary widely for every merchant depending on their products, their margins, and their competitors, this compelling price point denotes how much you have to pay to retain ranking, which is crucial for profitability.

Best Practice:
Mobile-friendly landing pages that use location, call and other Google extensions smartly will boost CTR. Though mobile optimization is extremely important, the desktop and tablet experience should not be ignored. The choice of platform optimization for each or all of them depends on who your customers are, and what products you sell. It’s important that you know as much as possible about your specific industry/business.

Test New Imagery, Titles and Descriptions

As a part of SearchEngineJournal’s interview series, Bruce Clay of Bruce Clay Inc. discussed a few tips for successful PLAs.

Points to note:

    – Google prefers PLAs with jpeg images as they offer a higher level of detail on a desktop. This is important while optimizing for various devices.
    – Additionally, regardless of the device users view a PLA on, they always prefer a light background to a black one.

Best Practice:
Don’t shy away from testing new imagery to see what works best in your PLAs. Apart from being the most important element that grabs attention, the right image can work wonders for your CTR. The same holds true for titles and descriptions.


There are numerous ways of optimizing your PLAs to ensure they beat your competition and maximize your ROI. The best way to go about this is to experiment and find what works for your specific product and brand, be intelligent with your bid, and approach these campaigns with a fresh outlook like you did with Google AdWords PPC.


Guest Author Soumya Nalam
Guest Author Soumya Nalam
Soumya has a work experience of 8+ years including 4 years as a freelancer. She worked with Reuters as a Senior Publishing Specialist and Google for a 40 million dollar annual business in the AdSense Online Operations Division.