Product Listing Ads (PLAs) have continued to be a hot topic since they were introduced in October 2012 as a way for retailers to advertise individual products based on their inventory feeds with product images. During last holiday season, we saw a significant spike in PLA traffic with 138% YoY increase at a 9-to-1 return on ad spend. This strong growth has led to greater focus on PLAs as they become a larger part of retailer’s online marketing strategy.

eMarketer recently featured some Kenshoo data in its research, “Product Listing Ads: Google Dives into Comparison Shopping” by sharing the results of a Kenshoo survey on the effectiveness of PLAs in relation to traditional paid search. After polling 89 global search marketers, we found that two thirds found PLAs to be more effective than traditional to paid search. Only 17% of respondents believed PLAs were less effective than traditional paid search ads.

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It is obvious that Google Shopping is important to most, if not all, retailers, but it is also critical to understand this ad type in the context of the entire consumer journey. Product Listing Ads only appear on product-related searches, but often times, other searches or brand interactions precede a view or click on a PLA. By not engaging consumers prior to the PLA, one could make the argument that you stand to lose a potential customer to a competitor. Kenshoo offers tracking, attribution models and reporting solutions that allow you to optimize your PLAs, text ads and social ads with this holistic view.

“Text ads can speak for the brand and bring brand recognition, whereas the PLAs tend to be model-focused or product-focused,” said Kristin Babcock, associate search director at agency Cramer-Krasselt.

As PLA traffic increases, this product-specific data becomes valuable to help understand which products are being searched on the most and selling the best. This information can help marketers decide which products they should advertise for on other channels. Through Kenshoo, this cross-channel intelligence can be automatically leveraged using Demand-Driven Campaigns  – our Facebook award-winning solution that automatically promotes best performing PLAs on Facebook.

PLAs are already evolving, and you should be actively optimizing your program (and migrating to Shopping campaigns – if you haven’t already), but it is also important to think of how this ad type fits into your larger marketing strategy.

eMarketer subscribers: Click here to download the full report.