The online search advertising landscape is changing dramatically. Google is quickly replacing its current free product search platform with Google Shopping, built entirely on CPC-based product listing ads (PLAs). Controversy abounds as retailers struggle to comprehend the implications and the potential loss of a once plentiful source of free traffic.
But despite fears of profit losses and lost business, the imminent move to a paid model can offer a wide range of advantages for merchants. Indeed, the current Google model is free, but its potential is limited.
Contrary to widespread concern, the move to paid listing ads could, in fact, bring retailers a rich new advertising channel offering a whole new level of access to online shoppers. Ultimately, the paid model will drive Google to prioritize PLAs on main search results pages, driving more traffic and revenue for retailers. The resulting increase in ad relevance and accuracy will breed new confidence among consumers, who will come to view PLAs as a convenient onramp to merchant websites.
But the switch will require a retooling of sorts on the part of retailers, who must grasp a new paradigm and adjust accordingly. Luckily, we have a roadmap in the highly successful methods employed by paid search advertisers who've grasped the art and science of interpreting customer intent, presenting a relevant response, and then quickly analyzing and optimizing performance. Managing PLA and keyword campaigns together will deliver new efficiencies and mutual benefits, bolstering overall search profits and improving ROI dramatically.
Matching to customer intent is the key
There's a great tendency, however faulty, to view the coming PLA-based platform in the vein of the comparison-shopping engines of yesteryear. But, make no mistake: There are some crucial differences that, once fully understood, can help you reach a new level of success with PLAs.
Primarily, PLAs are matched to consumer search intent. To maximize the opportunity, then, you must first understand this intent and then optimize listings accordingly. Just like paid search, it's important to understand the logic of search queries and how Google matches your ads to searches.
Instead of keywords, Google relies on titles, descriptions, and other fields provided in the Google Merchant Center feed. While you don't bid on individual keywords, as you would with paid search, you must ensure the right keywords are present in your feeds to help ensure you match the queries your potential customers are using.
It's no longer sustainable to rely solely on Google's ability to interpret your title and description to match the right queries. Now that PLAs are based on a CPC model, it is increasingly critical to ensure your ads are matched to relevant search queries.
In this article, we'll discuss how you can get the most value from your PLA investment and achieve higher ROI. We'll explain how you can boost ad relevance and regain control of query matching by better anticipating your customers' needs and wants.
Title and description are now your keywords
Because Google matches search queries to products based on title, description, and other feed elements, make sure these contain your most important terms for each product. Furthermore, make sure the titles and descriptions are precise enough to target the right quality of traffic. Conversely, you may want to use generic, head terms (i.e., laptop computers, party supplies) for your best-selling product titles and descriptions to lure early-stage buyers.
Optimize PLA-matching by leveraging keyword insights
Be sure to use your best search terms from paid, organic, and on-site search in the titles and descriptions of relevant PLAs. Test which keywords are most effective using paid search and then use the winners in your PLAs; target keywords with the highest conversion rates and average order values. It's important to update your feed values daily based on the demand data you're collecting across all channels.
Take full advantage of synergies between PLA and keyword campaigns
Combining learnings from text ads and product listing ads can yield key insights faster than managing each campaign independently. Understanding which products succeed in paid search helps predict which are likely to flourish in PLAs. The reverse is also true, and this mutually beneficial relationship offers a significant advantage to retailers that take advantage of it. While it may not be practical without technology to build text ads for every product in your catalog, PLA performance can help you determine where to focus your efforts.