In my previous post, I shared the first four of eight best practices that online retailers can use to power up their Product Listing Ads (PLAs).  Below is the Google results page example of a search for quadcopter.  Notice how the images jump on the page.


PLAs are getting to be as competitive as standard paid search so it’s important to manage them closely in order to get the best results.

The following are my second set of four best practices that retailers use to improve their PLA campaigns:

Optimize Optimize Optimize 

If you have multiple products in your product target, inevitably some will perform better than others. Gain access to product-level performance information and identify the outliers for each product target. Like your spring garden, you’ve got to keep pruning your campaigns so make sure to weed out the underperformers of the broader product target to give the good performers room to flourish. Conversely if you identify products that perform really well within a broad product target, take them out and create specific product targets for them.  This way you can manage their bids separately.

Imagine you sell furniture and have your products grouped in product targets by product_type and brand. While analyzing your campaign performance, you notice that a particular brand and design combination of patio furniture is selling better than most of the patio furniture of that brand. You can add a label for all the products of that design (let’s say adwords_labels=labelX), and create a new product target, that has product_type, brand, and adwords_labels as the criteria of the product target, and set a higher bid for these.

At the same time, you might notice that pink patio furniture is not performing well at all across brands. You can create a product target that will include only pink furniture, (using the adwords_labels) and set a lower bid for these.

Be Positive about Negatives

You might want to make sure you exclude some products from showing up under a particular product target or an ad group. For example, you may want to add brand names as negatives for generic product targets when you have brand product targets in other ad groups. Negatives are set on the ad group level, so if you have multiple product targets in an ad group, make sure the negatives are relevant to all targets.

Remember it is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. You will want to update your negatives continuously, especially as you update your product targets. Another tip is to look at the search queries that are triggering your product targets to show. You might find some gems there to add to your negatives and you can use your bid management platform (such as Kenshoo Search™) to streamline this process and analysis.

Use Strong Bidding Strategies

Use a bidding strategy that’s tailored to PLAs. Product Targets are not keywords. For example, Google does not share with you the position or the quality score and this is a major difference from standard paid search advertising.  Make sure your bidding tools are able to work and optimize without these two pieces.  Your bid management platform should be able to optimize all product targets, even the ones that don’t have too much activity. The optimization tool should have a way to analyze and learn from similar product targets (similar by performance as well as by the products within).

Be Holistic

Track, attribute, and report across your entire paid search efforts – both the text ads and the product listing ads. There will be instances in which a customer clicked on both your product listing ad and your text ad on their path to conversion, so you will want to make sure to attribute it only once so as to not double count.  It’s important to understand how these two channels are working together to drive users to research, browse, and ultimately purchase your products.  Standard paid search ads and product listings ads can be a powerful combination if you understand your customers’ journey to conversion.

There you have it.  Eight best practices for your Product Listing Ads.  Even though PLAs have been here for a while, there’s still a major opportunity for your team to build up your practice in this area in time for the end of the year shopping season.

Please visit for more information on how Kenshoo can help you get the most out of your product listing campaigns.