<span style="color:#33CC66">iPage Blog</span>
Posted on Feb 26, 2014

Are Google’s Product Listing Ads Right For Your Business?

Are Google’s Product Listing Ads Right For Your Business?


The various services that Google offers are constantly evolving. Take the topic of this article, for example – Google Shopping. It used to be called Froogle (remember that?!), then Google Product Search, and now Google Shopping. Not to be confused with Google Plus, Google Author Rank, and Google’s Personalized Search Results – which all mean different things for your future.  


But let’s get back to Google Shopping. Today when you type in a product related search query the top part of the page is almost entirely devoted to paid results. You might only see one or two organic listings before you have to scroll.


It’s in this context that you should consider whether Google’s Product Listing Ads are right for you business.


The truth is that this is not an easy question to answer as it comes down to individual circumstances. Let’s look at a similar non-digital, non-marketing example by way of explanation. Recent studies have shown that women can benefit from weights training. It’s an interesting concept mostly because lifting weights has typically been more popular with men. Women shy away from it for several reasons, including the uncomfortable, testosterone-filled atmosphere that exists in many weights rooms; and the fact that women usually want to exercise to stay trim, rather than to add muscle and possibly bulk up.

But the research says women can become healthier, fitter, and slimmer when they do weights training. So should all women start pumping iron? Of course not. It depends on individual circumstances.


The same applies to Google’s Product Listing Ads. And for many it will come down to one crucial factor: Google’s Product Listing Ads cost money. So the question should be refined to: will Google’s Product Listing Ads give me a return on my investment?


Hold On Cowboy, What Are Google’s Product Listing Ads?


Okay, let’s slow down a little and explain exactly what Google’s Product Listing Ads are all about. As an ecommerce retailer, you used to be able to submit a product feed to Google that included your prices and a picture of your product. This was fed into the big Google machine – which worked its magic and displayed your products alongside others when users performed a search. This is now called Google Shopping. You were not guaranteed inclusion but you had to be involved to have any chance at all.


Search users got used to seeing the shopping results – and they even started to use them. But in 2012, Google moved the goalposts by only including merchants in the results who paid them. This came in the form of Product Listing Ads, which are part of Google’s Adwords.


Google offered several principled excuses for changing its policy. All of their reasons centered on their view that paid listings provide better quality results for users. But it was hard for some people to avoid the comparison with a dealer who gets people hooked – and then ups his prices.


All of that is history now as paid-for inclusion in Google Shopping is now well established. And as already described, an ever-increasing amount of space on Google’s pages is now devoted to paid-for listings, including Product Listing Ads (so make sure that your product pages are informative).


That now leaves the question: is getting included on Google Shopping worth it?


Google Shopping: The Dollar Question


Budget is going to be your biggest consideration when it comes to making your decision on Product Listing Ads. And when you think about budget, don’t just think of the cost per click. There are other things you will have to take into account:


  • Setting up your ads does not mean Google will display them
  • You will need to devote significant resources to managing the process as it will not run by itself
  • You will need to invest in your product feed to make sure it is always right


Playing by Google’s rules will deliver targeted clicks to your website. If you sell products online, Google’s Product Listing Ads can be worth it. Just make sure that it fits within your budget – and that it’s not your entire online strategy. Otherwise, you’ll need to do some heavy lifting.


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