Ask the Expert



Q: "As a Marketing Director of a large e-commerce website, I'm both excited and concerned about the transition from Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to Shopping campaigns that Google recently announced. A large part of our online advertising budget is allocated to PLAs, and they have been a very successful channel for us. What are, in your opinion, the benefits of Shopping campaigns when compared to PLAs, and how should we, as e-commerce retailers, prepare for this transition?"

A: Earlier this year, Google made Shopping campaigns available to all Product Listing Ad (PLA) advertisers and, in March, they released AdWords API support to help advertisers manage their campaigns at scale. Recently, Google announced that regular PLA campaign type will retire by late August 2014 and asked all PLA advertisers to upgrade to Shopping campaigns.

This change presents both challenges and opportunities for e-commerce retailers. If you promote your e-commerce store via Google AdWords, then you know that PLA campaigns are crucial for the success of your online advertising efforts, so obviously you want to be ready to make the transition to Shopping campaigns and to leverage the numerous new features and benefits.

Shopping campaigns, when compared to PLAs, offer a truly retail-centric and seamless approach, by giving searchers the ability to browse your inventory directly in AdWords, while you can bid competitively with new metrics like benchmark data and impression share, and gain reporting on your performance down to the product-level.

Some of the new features available in Shopping campaigns that I believe will be very beneficial to e-commerce advertisers include:

  • With Shopping campaigns, you can analyze and report on your PLA performance by product attribute or by individual items in the Dimensions tab, regardless of your campaign structure. This is huge, as it means you no longer need to create separate ad groups or product targets to track your impressions, clicks and cost.
  • A bid simulator is now available in all Shopping campaigns. With this tool, you can now estimate how bid changes could impact your impressions, clicks or costs.
  • Custom labels, a new, structured way to tag your products in a data feed, are available within the AdWords interface itself. Use custom labels to subdivide the products in your campaign using values of your choosing, for example, to indicate that products are seasonal, on clearance, best sellers, etc. The sky's the limit!

Google released a useful one-sheeter Shopping Campaign Upgrade Guide with an overview of the upgrade process, and also announced that they will release more tools to help advertisers upgrade their campaigns and manage them at scale.

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