Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are beginning to play a major role in the digital marketing strategies of retail brands. Over the past year they have soared in popularity, and this growth looks set to continue. Indeed, recent research from Marin Software shows that retail advertisers have increased spending on PLAs by approximately 300%*.
Following this growth, Google is now expanding the reach of PLAs even further, with the recent launch of a new version of mobile PLAs.
Given the size of the opportunities for retailers to connect with mobile shoppers using PLAs, we decided to put the new mobile PLA update to the test.
Understanding the new mobile PLAs:
Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices not only to research but also to buy products. Google’s recently updated version of mobile PLAs has now made it simpler for consumers to quickly and easily browse products. One key new function is the new swipe feature, which allows users to swipe across the screen to browse all of the products. Not only does this enable users to browse more products from the initial search results page, they can also view larger product images and longer, descriptive product titles. This update has also given more retailers the opportunity to appear on the mobile PLA unit, as the screenshot below shows:
Example mobile PLAs:
Testing out mobile PLAs:
To conduct a test of the new version of mobile PLAs, we analysed performance data of an existing PLA campaign being run for one of our online retail clients, which was opted in for all devices. Mobile has consistently performed well for this client, and currently holds 14% share of traffic and a 7% share of sales from PLAs, with an outstanding conversion rate of 4.8%!
Following the launch of our campaign with the updated Google mobile PLAs, we noticed an initial decrease in CTR which could have been due to initial usability issues, with users unaware of the new scroll feature. It is worth mentioning, that even if the product is not seen, it will still warrant the impression but not the click and could affect CTR as a result.
Following the initial drop in performance, the number of clicks from mobile PLAs quickly started to increase, as shown in the graph below. Over the 8 week reporting period, the share of sales from PLAs on mobile increased by a significant +29%.
Campaign data pre- and post- launch of the new mobile PLA:
Although it is early days and the test analysed a relatively small data set, there are some interesting insights. Certainly, the results suggest that Google have developed something that is far more in tune with how users are searching for and looking at products.
Furthermore, the marked increase in performance with this campaign demonstrates the growing value of PLAs on mobile for retailers, and the growing importance of mobile for connecting consumers researching the best places to buy products, both online and in store.
Therefore, if you have not already set up your PLA campaigns into mobile, we recommend carrying out initial testing by applying appropriate mobile bid adjustments. This will help to capture more searches which are relevant to your product set.
Mobile PLAs could provide a potentially profitable new way to reach new consumers and incrementally grow your business. Certainly, with advertiser investment continuing to increase, and the on-going success of the PLA format, they seem here to stay.