Does Your PLA Stand Up to the Competition?

In early 2016, Google revamped its search results page by removing the right-hand-side text ads. The updates occurred due to the fact that those right-hand-side ads were underperforming, while the product listing ads (PLAs) consistently showed stronger user interaction. This update also streamlines the user experience, as it showcases the same information whether a user is searching via smartphone, tablet or desktop.

The Effects of Google’s Ad Updates

Google’s move brought the overall real estate for ad placement on search pages down to seven. The result is twofold:

  1. The amount of ad space is smaller, so competition is greater.
  2. The PLA can showcase your products and increase conversion.

If you run an online store and rely on selling products to consumers, then you need to take proactive steps to stay relevant in the PLA arena.

A Quick Snippet on PLAs

A PLA is a rich ad that appears at the top or right-hand-side of search results on and It is a type of PPC ad that appears only when users perform product-related searches.

The following items are included in each PLA:

  • Image
  • Product name
  • Price
  • Store name
  • Promotion, if applicable

As stated by Google, PLAs “drive traffic and sales to your website or local store by showing online shoppers rich images and details of items you sell.” With a greater emphasis on PLAs in search results, it is imperative that you have an effective presence in the PLA channel.

PLA Best Practices, As Stated by Google

Google has created a resource to help marketers new to the Google Shopping and Google Product Listing Ad processes. Here is a summary of the recommendations it offers to its merchants:

  • AdWords campaign strategy: You need to be smart about your bidding strategy, your product settings, your overall budget and your performance tracking. Know what you are targeting, as well as what you are not. Keep an eye on your ads and adjust accordingly to remain effective.
  • Copywriting: Ad quality is as important now than it has ever been. Be smart about your product titles and descriptions. Include information shoppers are likely looking for: brand, color, model number, etc. Do not overlook the importance of choosing the correct product type!
  • Imagery: Upload a professional photo of your product in a format that Google accepts (BMP, GIF, JPG (or JPEG), PNG and TIF). Supplement your main image with a carousel of options that show your product from different angles, in different colors, etc.
  • Promotions: Ads with promotions gain immediate differentiation from competitors in the PLA block. Create special offers to have an extra visual cue added to your ad.

What You Risk By Ignoring Your PLAs

If you fail to update your PLA strategy, you risk wasting your own money. Moreover, you risk losing customers to your competition, as the more effective PLAs will gain greater traction with consumers. Take care to pay attention to Google’s PLA best practices. If you are unsure of the right next step to take, reach out to an experienced Google Ad marketer who can help ensure your online store is completive in the PLA arena.


Sources: Search Engine Land, Google’s Take On The Recent Changes To The Results Page; Google, Google Ads | Shopping