By User:Nino Barbieri (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-2.5 (], via Wikimedia CommonsFebruary 11, 2013: Paid Google product listing ads (PLAs) accounted for 17 percent of ad spend at the search engine this past Q4 2012. Across the entire search engine market, PLAs accounted for 10.7 percent of overall spend — almost as big a slice as that accounted for by Bing and Yahoo. PLAs – which power Google’s now-paid shopping service (formerly known as Google Base and Froogle) had only been introduced in October, so the spend ramp up was especially impressive.

Didit’s Mark Simon, writing on the site of Retail Merchandiser, provides some actionable advice for those seeking better PLA performance:

1. Coordinate PLA with CSE Efforts
Although PLA creative and text is managed through Adwords, bidding is executed at the product level, thus being managed like a CSE listing. Your teams will need to manage each program separately while integrating the results from each.

2. Maintain Separate PLA and PPC Budgets
Until you are completely comfortable, you may find it useful to set aside a specific PLA budget apart from PPC with a budget cap to avoid unpleasant surprises. PLA campaigns — like PPC campaigns — can blow through a lot of money in a short period of time, so mistakes can be expensive.

3. Phase PLA In
Like PPC campaigns, PLA campaigns need to “learn” where their optimal profitability settings are. One approach we’ve found valuable in the campaign learning process is to launch a PLA campaign with a client’s full catalog using an initial starting bid for all products. Categories or products that fail to meet expectations can then be systematically purged until the campaign reaches a base level of efficiency, after which further, more incremental tweaks can be made.

4. Get Creative
PLAs are visually eye-catching, although many marketers currently use stock images and boilerplate copy to populate them. You can strongly differentiate your offers by using better, wittier ad copy, custom images, in your PLA creative – this can make a big difference when price is not a strong differentiator.

5. Monitor, Test, and Refine
You will need to continually monitor PLA results, make appropriate adjustments in response to test results and seasonal changes, and take other hands-on action.

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Didit Editorial