Google Shopping Campaigns
August 1st, 2014

Shopping Campaigns: A New Approach to Product Listing Ads

by Ashley Bullin

If you’re running traditional Product Listing Ads within Google Adwords, you’ve probably noticed a big, red alert at the top of your screen: “Regular Product Listing Ads campaigns are going away. Upgrade to Shopping Campaigns!” Unsure of what this actually means? Not to worry, we’re here to help you the differences between Product Listing Ads and Shopping Campaigns.

What are Product Listing Ads?

In case you aren’t familiar with Product Listing Ads (PLAs), these are ads related specifically to shopping. They’re comprised of an image, product title, price, merchant name and promotional message. When you type a commonly purchased item into Google search, you’ll probably see these show up before text ads and organic results are listed.

Google Product Listing Ads

How Do They Work? 

In order to use Product Listing Ads, advertisers need a Google AdWords account and a Google Merchant Center account. Google Merchant Center allows you to upload your store and products by submitting a data feed, which in turn enables your products to be listed on Google Shopping. And Google AdWords, of course, allow you to display ads on Google search results pages. Finally, when you link your Adwords and Merchant Center accounts, you can show your products through PLAs. Whenever a user searches for a term relevant to an item in your Google Merchant Center account, Google automatically shows your applicable products.

What Are the Benefits of Using of PLAs? 

Product Listing Ads are generally more appealing to users because they show rich information, such as images and pricing. Many companies have experienced higher click-through rates (CTR) with PLAs compared to text ads. And conversions (sales) are more likely to occur, as you can feature product information directly in the ads, which makes it easier for users to make purchasing decisions. No keywords are involved in Product Listings ads either; Google uses product attributes from your Google Merchant Center data feed to show your relevant products.

What’s the Difference Between Traditional PLAs and Shopping Campaigns? 

Shopping Campaigns are essentially just an upgraded form of Product Listing Ads—they’re a better way to create, manage and optimize PLAs within Google AdWords (your ads still look the same to users.) Shopping Campaigns allow you to browse your product inventory directly in AdWords, which previously wasn’t possible with traditional PLAs. Additionally, they’re easier to manage—you simply create product groups (previously you used product targets in traditional PLAs) for the items you want to run advertisements for. By using the product attributes in your Merchant Center data feed (i.e. product category, product type, brand, etc.) you can organize your inventory more efficiently. You can even utilize custom labels in your product groups—custom labels can be created to denote special attributes like best sellers.

You’ll also take advantage of more advanced reporting and competitive data features by using Shopping Campaigns. You can view data, such as CTR and conversions, for each product or product attribute. Nail down exactly which attributes are giving you the most bang for your buck—whether it be the type of product, brand or a specific custom label you’ve utilized. Additionally, you can add columns within your product groups tab to see estimated CTR and maximum cost per click (CPC) for other advertisers with similar products. This means it’s no longer a complete shot in the dark when you initially set your max CPC bids. Win-win!

Make the Switch 

Before you switch over from traditional Product Listing Ads to Shopping Campaigns, it’s best to make ensure Google Merchant Center data feed is optimized. Make sure all product attributes are clearly defined, and your data feed is successfully submitted without errors (within Google’s policies and regulations). Sage Island has already transitioned many of our clients’ traditional PLAs over to Shopping Campaigns, and we are experiencing great results. Keep in mind that Google is retiring traditional Product Listing Ads in late August, so it will be necessary to make the switch soon. If you have questions about this process, or just want to know more about advertising on the Google Shopping network, contact us today.