If you have a physical product that you sell on your ecommerce website, product listing ads (PLA) are for you.
PLA ads allow you to show off your product’s images, prices, and description within Google’s search results.
However, setting up a PLA campaign isn’t as simple or straightforward as your average Google Ads (formally Google AdWords) campaign. I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to get your first PLA campaign off the ground.
What are product listing ads?
When you run a normal Google Ads campaign and you bid on keywords like Boston dentist or other service based keywords, or informational keywords like SEO tips, you see the normal AdWords ads that we all know and love.
You have some ads in the fold and some ads on the sidebar. But, if you search for certain product related keywords that have a strong buyer intent, you have two options. You can advertise like normal with an AdWords ad, or you can use a PLA ad.
This right here is an example of a bunch of different PLA ads. What this is is an ad that shows product information. It shows an image, a price, and a little bit of a description. You can click on it and go right to that section of someone’s site and make a purchase.
Here’s another example of PLA ads. When someone searches for USB microphone you’ll see some PLA ads, and instead of being on the sidebar these are actually above the fold at the top of the search results.
How to set up product listing ads
Now it’s time to go over how to set these up for your site.
Google Merchant Center
Your first step is to create what’s known as a Google Merchant Center account.
This is important because this is where Google actually pulls your product information from. To set up your Merchant Center account just google Google Merchant Center, and it’s obviously the first result. Click on that. Choose your country, click continue.
Then, it’s time to configure your account, which is basically just giving them information about your business like your store name, the description, a website URL, and where you’re located. Once you have all this filled out click on save updates and, bingo, you now have a Google Merchant Center account.
Your first step is to click on the blue button that’ll appear when you first login to your Google Merchant Center account. Then, you want to integrate your AdWords account with your Merchant Center account.
To do that with the AdWords account that you’re already logged into just click the blue button. If you want to link your Merchant Center account with a different AdWords account you can add the AdWords customer ID here, click link account, and it’ll do that. We’re going to link it with our AdWords account that I’m currently signed into.
Create a New Campaign
Now it’s time to get your PLA ads all set up. Your first step is to create a campaign just like you would within Google AdWords.
You want to give your campaign a descriptive name. So, if you were selling, let’s say, baseball bats you’d call it baseball bats. Then, you’d choose the countries that you want to target with your PLA ads. Then, click create AdWords campaign and continue.
Set a Budget
Next, you want to customize your bid and budget. Your max cost per click is just like with an AdWords ad. This is what you pay when someone clicks on your ad. Then, you can set your daily budget.
When that’s all set click save campaign settings and continue. Once you see this screen you’re good to go, and then you just want to click on finish. Then you’ll see information about your PLA ad campaign performance like clicks, impressions, click through rate, cost per click, just like you would with a normal AdWords account.
Differences between Product Listing Ads and other AdWords Campaigns
The major difference between a PLA ad campaign and a regular AdWords campaign is that there’s no quality score.
The only things that influence your visibility are your bid, your daily budget – so if you go over that, obviously, it won’t show any ads, and the data that you give it in your data feed which I’ll go over next.
Let’s say that you’re not getting much traffic from this. It could be that your bid is too low and you’re not showing up high enough or in enough searches.
So, you may want to change that to, let’s say, 20 cents, and you can increase your daily budget. When you want to make a change just make the change here and click on update.
If you want more advanced settings than just being able to modify the bid, budget, and target countries you can click on advanced manage in AdWords and you can actually manage the settings within your AdWords account. As you can see here, you get a lot more robust information.
For example, you can filter, you can add and remove columns, you can add new ad groups just like you would within a regular AdWords campaign. So, if you really want to invest in PLA ads I do recommend managing your PLA ads within AdWords.
Adding Product Information
Once you have everything set up in terms of bids it’s time to actually get your products into the Google Merchant Center so Google can display them as PLA ads. To do that you want to click on data feeds in the sidebar, and click on new data feed.
This is where you give Google specific information about the products that you sell, like the category, the type, the price, and the availability.
What you want to do is give your data feed a file name, like baseball bats two, or dresses three, or whatever describes what type of products that you’re going to upload.
Then, you want to click on I want to use Google spreadsheeets to store, edit, and upload my feed, because that just makes everything a lot easier. Then, you want to keep this checked off, please generate a template spreadsheet for me, and click on save changes.
Then, you want to click on edit spreadsheet. This is the spreadsheet that you want to modify based on what you sell. At the top they give you an example of what to do.
You have your ID which is unique to your account, the title which describes what it is, a little description, the condition, the price, et cetera. You would just fill in the blanks for whatever it is that you’re selling.
That’s all there is to PLA ads. As you can see, if you run an ecommerce store that sells a lot of different products this is a great way to get traffic from people that are actively searching for what you’re selling.