In part 1 of our post we covered the basics of Google’s new Product Listing Ad format and how online retailers can use it to increase sales. This list of best practices is intended for marketers who are already running Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and looking to increase traffic and improve ROI.
 
1) Include specific, relevant keywords in your feed’s product titles and descriptions. Google focuses on these fields, among others, to contextually match your products to a user’s query.
 
2) Correct all errors and warnings listed for your feed in Google Merchant Center feed before setting up PLAs. Uncorrected feed errors will prevent your products from showing.
 

google merchant center feed errors

 
3) Utilize the “see search terms” report to gain insight into the specific queries your PLAs are being triggered for. When you see an irrelevant query, add it as a negative keyword. Even though “positive” keywords don’t come into play for PLAs, negative keywords do.
 

google adwords see search terms report

 
4) Make sure your company name is accurate and reflective of your brand or online store. The company name listed in PLAs does not come from your AdWords account, but rather the General settings tab within your Google Merchant Center account.
 

google merchant center store name

 
5) Set up separate campaigns for product listing ads rather than adding product targets to all existing search campaigns. This will provide more control over bidding and budget management.
 
6) Organize brands or product clusters into their own ad groups. Product targets set at the ad group level allow you to bid separately and create specific promotional text for each grouping.
 

product listing ad campaign structure

 
7) Set one ad group that targets all products as a catch all, but keep it’s bid lower than the ad groups with product filters. The default for Google is to serve the most competitive ad, which tends to be the higher traffic, higher bid (higher ad rank) target – just like keywords.
 
8) Launch all products with a low bid rather than activating small chunks of products to determine the proper CPC. The minimum bid to get your ad to show is $0.01, so the worst thing that can happen is your products show up on the last page. Searchers on average look through more results pages on Google Shopping than on Google.com.
 

product listing ads last entry

 
9) Run only one ad at a time per ad group. Ad rotation and optimization features available for normal text ads don’t work with PLAs. If you absolutely need to test multiple variations you can set up adwords experiments, but that can be more trouble than it’s worth.
 
10) Don’t activate CPA bidding (Conversion Optimizer) on Product Listing campaigns because it will effectively halt ad serving.*
 

conversion optimizer UI notification

 

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* Ad scheduling and accelerated vs standard budget delivery work with PLAs, while position preference, enhanced CPC and ad rotation do not. This is not explicitly called out in Google’s online help center.