What Are PLAs?
Short Definition: Advertisements near the top of search results that display products with prices.
PLA is an acronym for Product Listing Ads. Also known as Google Shopping Ads, these online advertisements include product images, tiles, price, and business name. They can display at the top of relevant Google search results pages as well as on Google Search Partner websites, such as Youtube.
Here’s an example of Product Listing Ads displaying for the search term mixing bowls:
PLAs are useful for online sellers who want to advertise specific products or product groups. These ads may help to better qualify leads before they visit an ecommerce site, as people can see a product image and price before they click, making it easy to narrow down their choices.
How Do PLAs Work?
As with Google text ads, PLAs use a cost-per-click model. Advertisers set bids and only pay the amount they’ve bid when web users click on their ad. However, unlike text ads, which use bids based on keywords, PLAs use bids based on ad groups. Advertisers must submit product data–such as product type, price, image, and brand– to the Google Merchant Center and set up their campaigns in AdWords. Google determines the relevance of the ad for specific search queries and decides when to display it based on the Merchant Center data.
Google allows advertisers to opt into certain PLA enhancements, which may display additional information when an ad gets served. Advertisers can choose:
Special Offers. Through Merchant Promotions, advertisers can add a “special offer” link with their Shopping Ads. There is no additional cost for this enhancement.
Product Ratings. Advertisers can show their average product rating, based on a 5-star system, as determined by their customers. A product must have at least three reviews to be eligible for the Product Ratings enhancement.
Trusted Stores. Advertisers must earn the Google Trusted Storage badge to use this enhancement. When included in a PLA, the Trusted Stores badge shows users a “report card” of the merchant’s customer service performance and shipping reliability.
Merchants who are using the new AdWords can also choose to use Showcase Shopping Ads. These ads display a related group of products and may get served for general (but relevant) search queries, such as “women’s sweaters.” Advertisers pay on a cost-per-engagement basis. Engagement is defined as a user expanding the ad and clicking a link or spending at least 10 seconds with the ad open.