Location, location, location: PLAs climb to prime position

Posted: Friday 14th March 2014 in Paid Media, Thought Leadership.
Location road signs

PLAs have taken prime position at the top of Google’s search results

Over the 2013 peak season PLAs had a brief stint at the top of the Google search engine results page (SERP), before taking turns sharing the back seat with traditional paid search ads (see our earlier blog, PLAs on top). Now PLAs are back to claim the top spot as kings of the Google SERP and this time we’re expecting the change to be a permanent one.

We’ve noticed other cosmetic changes within the results page. The yellow backing has gone from the PPC sponsored ads section and the header text is also slightly larger than it was previously.


PLA ads top the Google SERP

Product listing ads now top the Google search engine results page


There have been continued improvements across the PLA channel for both the marketer and end user, such as:

Shopping Campaigns – now with API support

• PLA Local – local availability of chosen product

• Shop by Price Function (shown below) – which we believe to be going through beta testing


Google's shop by price functionality

Google’s new ‘shop by price’ functionality is believed to be going through beta testing

These changes indicate Google are really driving the channel, adding new features and making it easier for novice retailers to set up PLA accounts on shopping campaigns and begin to make traction within the PLA channel.

We expect this move to symbolise a mentality shift within digital search. No longer will PLAs been seen as an option, but as a necessity for those wishing to remain competitive. If you don’t occupy this space then your competition certainly will be, and if you want to make traction on the landscape and see potential fulfilled the channel should receive your full, undivided attention.

Since transitioning from a free to a paid model, the PLA channel has continually shown to have favourable click through rate and cost of sale returns in comparison to standard paid search ads. This, coupled with the location shift and additional features, will likely lead to an increase in adoption across retail and, in turn, cost per click too.

This change will mean that paid search strategies across the country are likely to need to be revised, with budgets requiring reassessment to ensure PLAs are allocated sufficient funds in order to cope with the additional demand and traffic.

For peak 2014, we expect that PLAs will account for around 50% of total paid search revenue, as an industry average. We recommend that budgets should be phased to reflect this.

The relocation of PLAs now places them front and centre on prime and sought-after Google real estate, which may mean the 50% share could become a reality much sooner than previously expected; and at a significantly better cost of sale.



Summit are online retail specialists working with the likes of Argos, Carpetright and Hobbs to help them make more money online. If you have questions about this article or you’d like to know more about our Shopping services please contact Dan Upson, Shopping Comparison Manager.