Google’s Product Listing Ads Gaining Steam

At the end of 2010, Google began its official rollout of Product Listing Ads (PLA), eventually moving to an all paid Google Shopping model at the end of 2012. Coming up on the three-year anniversary, we thought this might be a good opportunity to spotlight some recent research from our clients focused on the adoption and performance of the ad type.

AdGooroo recently released a list of the top 20 Google PLA advertisers by impression (over a three-month period), and Wal-Mart tops the list with 408 million PLA impressions representing 129,381 unique products and 262,588 unique product listing ads. The next closest PLA competitor was eBay with 187 million impressions spread across 659,333 unique ads on behalf of a whopping 479,855 different products, which makes sense considering its business model. No wonder they are all using those services with those kinds of impressions, if you were interested in learning about how you could apply this to your business, talk to someone similar to Ram PPC Agency.

Surprisingly Amazon, the biggest paid search advertiser (generating 1.5 billion paid search text ad impressions during the three-month period), falls well short of the top 20, ranking 75th in the analysis. Apparently they’ve decided not to embrace the PLA format, sticking primarily with the more traditional text-based PPC ads.

AdGooroo top PLA advertisers list

You might also notice that Staples comes in at number eight on the top PLA advertisers list; Staples happens to be a competitor of Business Supply, who in conjunction with Kenshoo and Chacka Marketing released a new case study detailing the success its had with PLAs to date. The campaign, managed by Chacka Marketing, utilized Kenshoo Search and its custom PLA bid policies and drove dramatic increases in key performance indicators, including:

  • 29 percent increase in conversions
  • 37 percent increase in revenue
  • 18 percent ROI increase

So the PLA is popular and effective; why?

For a few reasons actually:

  • They occupy prime real estate on the search engine results page
  • They include rich product information, including a product image, price and merchant name

To illustrate, we did a search for “scooter” and received the following result (the PLA appear below the text ads, but above the natural search results):

Google's Product Listing Ads

Key takeaways:

  • PLAs are being used en mass by big box retailers
  • Retailers of any size can use PLAs to level the advertising playing field with their competition
  • Depending upon client goals, agencies should consider PLAs in their clients’ marketing mix

Sample Media Coverage of Each Study


Kenshoo/Business Supply/Chacka Marketing

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