Get Started with Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs)

Get Started with Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs)

George Stevens

Google is the number one search site for online shoppers, but a little bit more surprisingly, Google is a top shopping source in itself.

According to an online shopping comparison report by CPC Strategy, Google Shopping is top by far for the greatest source of traffic and profit for online merchants. If you are selling products online—or planning to—it makes sense to look to Google Shopping before any other outlet.

However, much like their search results, Google doesn’t let any old seller appear in their product listings. There are several requirements you need to surpass in order to qualify as a seller and start your first shopping campaign.

First things first, lets take a look at some of those requirements. Your business may not qualify or rank well on Google Shopping if:

  • You sell less than 500 products
  • You have a limited budget for your PLA campaign (less than $1000 / £650).
  • You sell products in a highly competitive category (much like Adwords your category may demand a high CPC)
  • The quality of your website is poor

If your business still sounds like a good fit for Google Shopping, stick with us and we’ll dive right into everything you need to know to get started.

What are Product Listing Ads (PLAs)?

Chances are you are familiar with Google’s Product Listing ads. They are cost per click (CPC) ads that display in Google’s search pages to the left, and top of the results. The ads are purchased by online merchants via their Adwords account, and are most distinguishable in that they feature a product image and are targeted toward products and product categories (rather than keywords).

Merchants can also sell with more traditional Adwords ads (often characterised by their light background colour). These ads are solely text based and appear at the top and to the right of the search results.

As mentioned above, PLAs target individual products and product groups, for example bikes or bikes under £300. Adwords Ads are targeted to specific product keywords, for example men’s racing bike or men’s racing bike under £300. With both types of ads you are charged on a CPC basis.

Getting Started

First of all, you will want to head to the Google Merchant Center to sign up for an account. This is where Google draws information for the PLAs from. Once you’ve submitted your product inventory to the Google Merchant Center, you are then able to create a shopping campaign in Adwords which lets you place ads for your products.

Follow these steps to create your first shopping campaign:

  1. Login to your Adwords account
  1. Select the campaigns tab > +New Campaign
  1. Choose Search Network Only
  1. Choose Product Listing Ads
  1. Select Networks, Devices, Location, Language
  1. Set Bidding and Budget
  1. Choose an extension for your Product Listing Ads account (If you choose an existing extension, ensure it matches your Google Merchant Login).

Create An All Products Ad Group in your Google Shopping Campaign

So, you now have a Google Merchant account and a shopping campaign in Adwords, and are thus ready to start creating Ad Groups and Product Targets. If you make sure you have an Ad Group within your Google shopping campaign which contains all your product data, when you set up your first Ad Group in Adwords, Google will automatically select and target all your products.

From then on you are all set to start placing and experimenting with your ads. For further information on Google Shopping and PLAs, CPC Strategy have a great resource which includes PLA best practices and common mistakes, and Google themselves have a great support center including videos and detailed guides.

Image credit: Shopping trolley with lower tray. by Polycart, on Flickr