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    Click At First Sight: Taking Advantage Of Buyers Impulse With Googles PLAs

    Things are always changing in digital marketing, especially in paid search. Recently, Google introduced a revolutionary feature to the New Zealand market, designed to capture customers’ attention and take advantage of impulse buying - Product Listing Ads (PLAs). PLAs are cost per click search ads based on factors known to engage online shoppers: product images, price, promotions, discounts, reviews and locality.

    In regular search campaigns, search terms are matched to specific keywords; whereas in PLAs, search terms are matched to attributes within a product feed – primarily ‘title’ and ‘description’, but others may also be taken into account.The data that feeds through to PLAs must be submitted by you (meeting all of Google’s requirements) using Google’s Merchant Centre and Adwords, only after that can you begin setting up PLA campaigns. From Google Merchant Centre you can create a product feed by setting up a Google Merchant Center account, uploading the product feed, then linking Merchant Center and AdWords accounts.


    This is exciting news for NZ businesses trying to push their Google Search presence, however there are some pros and cons to take into account when considering if PLAs are right for you and your business. For instance, if your business has less than 500 products, it is probable that your smaller product feed will get drowned out by larger corporations with relatively more products, reducing the impact of your PLAs. PLAs are also priced by Cost Per Click (CPC) like Google Adwords, which can take quite a hit on your budget and ROI (Return On Investment) if those clicks do not convert into sales. Also consider whether your website’s code and SEO elements are up to scratch to be able to properly take advantage of PLAs. If none of those considerations are setbacks for you, PLAs will be an effective way to dominate your market online, edging out your competitors by catching potential customer's attention first. There is still a big advantage to getting started now - As a New Zealand trend leader, you can take advantage both of the extra time and relatively little competition set up your campaigns at a lower cost. More competition means higher overall CPC, which will give you less return on investment.

    If this sounds appealing to you and you want to jump in, it may be best to do a few small experiments first to get a grip on how PLAs work and what needs to be done at the lowest risk. Start with a single ad group for a non competitive product just to experiment, monitor and test that everything works the way that you’d expect it to for your business’ needs. There are small suggestions for tweaks from Google to optimise your PLA experience that you can experiment with.

    In your experimentations, there are some things you may want to consider or even incorporate. Firstly, if you are aware of irrelevant ad groups that do not apply for the product you are listing, you have the option to specify known irrelevant ad groups in order to target your listings and achieve the best results. For instance, you may be looking to make a listing for women’s glasses specifically - Google then allows you to specify [-kids], [-childrens], [-mens], [-male] to funnel your PLA into exactly where you need it. This means that your CPC is not wasted on potential customers who have no interest in your product.

    Secondly, to choose the products that are best to experiment with, you may want to consult your sales data and Google Analytics. It makes sense to begin with best-selling products, products you are already focusing on and can therefore closely track the difference in sales your PLA creates. In your trials, it would make sense to invest best selling and other high performing products and into a specific ad group that has higher bids, therefore increasing exposure and your profits at relatively low risk. Along the same lines, when you move forward with PLAs for all your products, moving low performing products into lower bid ad groups will prevent you from losing profits.

    Finally, to get a feel for how everything works you will want to take your experiment as a chance to experience what the day-to-day best practices are to get the best results from your PLAs. This includes sending Google a daily feed of the most up-to-date data on the products in your PLA ad groups using the Merchant Centre, therefore insuring all your information is current, accurate and in-line with any sales or discounts you may be running on your website. It also includes possibly re-thinking images or product names in order to grab attention - Consider angle, lighting, colours and backgrounds to make your ad stand out. For instance, all but one of the products pictured below are a similar angle - except for the last image - which stands out from the crowd and immediately draws the eye.


    Sending your daily feed to Google becomes imperative for optimising the Automated Extensions on your PLAs. Automated Extensions were recently incorporated by Google as a feature to use the information you submit in your feed to show discounts, promotions, shipping deals and reviews as part of your PLAs. If having these Automated Extensions on your PLAs sounds appealing to you, such as having 5-star reviews to pull customers in, you must make yourself eligible. For instance, in order for quick-glance star reviews to appear under your PLAs, you must have at least 3 reviews on any given product and 50 reviews overall, then send a request to have them added. An easy way to achieve this is to build review call to actions into your sales process.


    We all know Google dominates the search engine market here in New Zealand and more likely than not, it will be the first place potential customers think to look for your products. Don’t miss your opportunity to catch them at first glance.

    This article was provided by Isaac Bullen from 3WhiteHats. He is a digital marketer specialising in search engine marketing who is also a keen cyclist and small business owner originally from the UK.

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