By Raman Verma

Google continues on its path of AdWords innovation with call forwarding for Search, enhanced interest categories for Display, true view ads for YouTube, hyperlocal search for Mobile and now standalone product listing ads. With this new innovation though, Google appears one step closer to keyword less Dynamic Ads.

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So what are Product Listing ads?

Product listing ads are rich media ads that allow advertisers to present an image, product price, a promotional message & supplier’s name within Google’s search advertising platform.

The ads are positioned on the side of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and from what we have seen; occupy a maximum of first three positions although two is more common.

Here is an example:

example of product listings ad

--------------------------------------------Further Update - 23/11/2011 -----------------------------------------

We have noticed today that Google is trialling product listing ads in the banner.

new product listings ad

What are the benefits?

The biggest benefit is that these ads are likely to stand out as they include key information - product picture, price, benefit & supplier name which are often the determining factors in purchase process. The other benefit is that your ads will occupy more space on the SERP therefore you are likely to receive more click traffic.

Adding this form of advertising to your account will not mean that your PPC text ads will cease to show; neither do we recommend that you rely solely on product listings ads. The new ad format should instead be used as an add-on to stand out from competition and occupy more space on SERP in order to increase click traffic.

Google also claims that these ads are likely to achieve higher CTR, on the contrary, our tests (across different industries) have shown that CTR for product listing ads are around 1.60%.

It’s still early days and as Google refines its algorithms & advertisers refine their strategies the CTR is likely to increase.

What do I need to do to set-it up?

Before you start thinking about the set up, you need to ensure that you have Google Merchant Centre; if you don’t then you can’t set up Product Listing ads.

This feature is still in limited release, however; to find out if your account is eligible, go to the ad extension tab and look for ‘Auto Targets’ option. If this option is available then select it and link it up to your Google Merchant Centre by clicking on ‘add product target’.

At this stage, you can either choose to target all products or a group of products as shown below.

product listings targeting option

Adding all products will result in your product listing ads triggering against all eligible search queries.

Use the ‘add a group of products’ option if you only want to advertise certain product categories or you wish to include a different promotional message for different categories.

For example: let’s assume you are an online DIY store but you only want to advertise ‘gardening equipment’, in this case, instead of targeting all products on your site you can only target gardening equipment.

To take it a step further, let’s assume that you are offering 20% discount on pneumatic drills & free delivery on gardening equipment then you may want to use this option to include separate promotional messages for different category in the ads tab.

At the moment you can auto target a maximum of 3 product categories per ad group which should be ample although Google may allow advertisers to add more categories once this feature is fully released.

It’s important to note that in order to auto target by product category, you need to ensure that your merchant centre feed is set up correctly, for more details click here.

Our Verdict

The new feature is a step in the right direction as it presents ads in rich media format which will stand out and capture the users (with the right messages) early on thus increasing the chances of conversion.

This new feature also gives us a sneak preview of what the ‘keyword-less, Dynamic Ads may look like or at least the mechanism of how these ads may be rendered on SERP.

If you are an online retailer then I would strongly advise that you set-up an account on the Google Merchant Centre as soon as possible to stay ahead of competition, here is a link to get started.

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