Google advice over Product Listing Ads mean changes for Christmas retailers

By Daniel Upson | Tuesday 17th September 2013

Google’s PLA Advice

Retailers must focus on the quality of the information in their Product Listing Ads, says Google in a warning that hits the industry in the busy run up to Christmas.

And this is all the more important as retailers report PLAs are driving high traffic and revenue figures, according to online retail marketing specialist Summit.

PLA Information Quality

The 16th September 2013 was the deadline for Phase 1 in Google’s new look shopping comparison service, that was launched in the UK and other countries in February.

Phase 1 was all about encouraging retailers to adopt the new Product Listing Ad system and the deadline forced them to focus on populating the feed with product information.

From 17th September, Phase 2 kicks in, and that’s all about a focus on the quality of the information in the Product Listing Ads.

Urgent Changes in the Run Up to Christmas – Peak Season

Google’s warning comes as Peak begins and retailers start gearing up for Christmas, their most important part of the year.

In digital marketing terms, this period is critical for retailers – it’s when they plan their keyword strategies and set out how they’re going to spend budgets.

Watch this video for some truly fascinating insight into the preparations of Argos, one of the UK’s largest High Street and online retailers. It features Argos’ Digital Marketing Controller Matt Roberts and Ben Latham, Director of Digital Strategy at their paid search agency, Summit.

PLAs are Significant say Summit Clients

Online retail marketing and ecommerce specialist Summit reports that some clients are seeing 40% of traffic and 30% of total revenue coming from PLAs.

Summit’s Shopping Comparison Manager Dan Upson says it doesn’t matter how high a retailer sets their CPC bids, without a comprehensive feed management strategy ads simply will not show.

In this week’s Retail Buzz, Dan sets out his advice to retailers to meet this new challenge from Google and exploit the opportunities in PLAs.

This is the advice he offers, below:

1. Ensure the most important product information is accurate, relevant and updated regularly

  • That applies particularly to UPIs, titles and product description
  • Note: the more information held within the field the better

2. Ensure all products in feed are published and optimized

  • Frontload titles and description with important information
  • Make them user friendly and not just keywords
  • Note: these are your ad copy – so nothing spammy
  • Images should be high quality – these are your ‘glamour shots’

3. Ensure sufficient budget is allocated to PLAs

  • It’s not just about throwing money at it
  • It’s about strategically managing your bids against your success metrics (eg. Return on Investment or Cost of Sale targets)