Like WR Percy Harvin, this post is going to be short and fast. (Still riding high on the SB win, obviously. Go Hawks!) (Photo courtesy of Seahawks.com)
Google Adwords PLA (Product Listing Ad) campaigns are AWESOME. Instead of just running ad copy to convince a user to click on your ads, you can actually show them a picture of exactly what they’re looking for. They’re scalable campaigns with super-relevant ads that lead to super-relevant landing pages, and the CPCs are often a fraction of what you’ll have to shell out for a text ad on the same query.
VOLUME/SCALABILITY + LOWER CPAs = PPC HOLY GRAIL = PROMOTION!
BUT, if you’re anything like me, PLA campaigns are a mysterious corner of the digital marketing world, reserved for ecommerce experts who spend their days hunched over AdWords Help Articles. Sadly, that’s just not the case. Chances are, especially if you work for an agency, you’ll end up coming face to face with PLAs at some point in the future; and you’ll have to figure them out. Fast. I recently spent the good chunk of an afternoon scouring blog posts and articles for a simple, easy to read guide to PLA campaigns. As far as I could find, they just don’t exist. The guides to PLA campaigns are more enigmatic than PLAs themselves. Well, voila! The quick & dirty guide to PLAs: for people who want to get stuff done fast, but done right.
(This article is by no means, an exhaustive list of PLA opportunities. These are the essentials – the things you need to get started and get started right.)
Start With Your Product Feed
It’s All. About. The. Feed. I cannot stress this enough. Your options for optimization and strategy are close to nil if your product feed isn’t set up correctly. So spend some time optimizing your feed. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and heartaches later on.
BONUS: Giving your product feed some TLC will not only boost PLA performance, it will also boost your performance on the Google Shopping Network in general.
1. Use the Google Taxonomy Guide to fill in your Category column. It’s the best, simplest way to correctly categorize your products. Download it here.
2. Make sure your information is correct. Have the appropriate data in its respective column (not all of your products are blue, for example). It may be time-consuming at first, but it’s worth it to ensure your ads have a higher chance of showing up for very specific, longtailed queries (=lower CPCs, More $)
3. Take advantage of your description columns. Another time-consumer, but worth it. Think of them as ad copy. They’re your extra chance, after relevancy, to convince users to click on your ad. They don’t have to be boring, but they don’t have to be sonnets either. Just include descriptive details and some solid adjectives that highlight the benefits of your product.
In the same way that your bathroom or kitchen is never actually clean until you bust out that old toothbrush, your PLA campaigns are never going to be optimized unless you get down and dirty. If you’ve optimized your product feed, you’ll have a ton of opportunities to get really granular. We’re talking ad groups for each brand you carry in your Women’s Skinny Jeans campaign, or your Dark-Wash Women’s Skinny Jeans campaign – the possibilities are endless.
The more granular you get, the easier you make it for Google to show your products to people searching on relevant terms. This, of course, means lower CPCs, higher CTRs, and eventually more sales at a lower cost. BOOM. You’re a paid search hero.
Think Fine French Cheese
The French get mighty upset when Americans start talking cheese – because we “kill” it. In French culture, cheese is a living, breathing thing, and just like you wouldn’t put your puppy in the fridge for safe keeping, you don’t keep your cheese in the fridge. The same is true for PLA campaigns – Don’t suffocate them!
These campaigns require attention and love, displayed in the center of your dining room table. Not at the back of your cheese drawer. There is always room for optimization in PLA campaigns (sound familiar?). The more you nurture and love them, the more your client (or your boss) will love you!
Like I said – quick and dirty. These guidelines will get your PLA campaigns started in the right direction. As they mature and develop, you’ll want to check out the blog posts written by those ecommerce experts (I’ve included some links below) to ensure you’re always optimizing.
Just remember these 3 simple guidelines, and you’ll be good to go:
1. It’s all about the feed
2. Shoot for toothbrush-level granularity
3. Don’t kill your PLA campaigns – keep them alive!
Additional Resources written by people who really know PLAs: