An Easier Way To Set Up Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) And Why You SHOULDN’T Do It

In an effort to get merchants into the swing of paid listings, Google has introduced a new, more streamlined way to set up Google Product Listing Ads.  It’s a quick three step process that Google hopes will draw in merchants who are not well-versed in AdWords, or who think that setting up a Product Listing Ad is too much trouble.  Before I get into the why-not’s, here’s the how-to for those who are interested.

(Or, see our previous article on the better way to set up Google Product Listing Ads.)

Setting Up Product Listing Ads… The Easy Way

To get started, log into your Merchant Center, expand your settings, click on AdWords, and select Option 1 to create a Product Listing Ad Campaign within Merchant Center.

Step 1: Setting Up Product Listing Ads in Google Merchant Center

You will be taken to a screen where you can set your account information and name your campaign.  A minimum bid and budget will be automatically set.  This applies to all of the products across your data feed.

Step 2: Name Your PLA Campaign

On the next page, you can set a maximum cost per click and increase your daily budget.

Step 3: Customize Your PLA Bid

Finally, you’ll be prompted to enter your billing information.  Hit save, and your campaign will get sent to Google to be reviewed.

If you’d like to adjust your bid and budget later, simply go back into Merchant Center > Settings > AdWords.

Change Your PLA Bid In Google Merchant Center

And there you have it!  Easy?  Yes.  Efficient?  Not so much.

Drawing from my experiences in baking (40 minutes at 350 ° ≠  25 minutes at 475°), I’ve learned that the fast, easy way is seldom the right way.  Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and put in that little bit of extra work to make your effort worth it.

As I said earlier, this setup is geared toward merchants who are unfamiliar with AdWords.  Don’t be that merchant.  In setting up your Product Listing Ads through Merchant Center, you limit your control over your campaign.  This method will not allow you to optimize your PLAs as Merchant Center restricts you to a single bid across your entire inventory.

How PLA optimization works: Imagine that your store sells a variety of kitchen gadgets and you have just set your campaign bids in Merchant Center.  The bids on Halloween cookie cutters are the same as KitchenAid mixers.  The kicker? It’s Valentine’s Day!

Halloween cookie cutters probably won’t turn as much of a profit as a KitchenAid mixer, so why give them the same budget in your campaign?  In Google Merchant Center, advertising funds that could have fueled higher volume sales or margins get diverted to items that may not necessarily convert.

Cue AdWords!

Make AdWords Your Best Friend (Or At Least An Acquaintance)

Creating a Product Listing Ad campaign in AdWords allows you to make the most of your campaign strategy.  Adwords allows you to separate your inventory into groups according to seasonality, performance, price tier, or any other groupings you can think of.  From there, you can set different bids, targeting options, promotions, and more for each group.

Now, you can turn off the Halloween cookie cutter grouping until that time of year, and increase your advertising budget on higher performance items to push your visibility and sales.

With Google Shopping’s trajectory in mind, I’d venture to say that understanding AdWords and knowing how to leverage it is a necessary skill for every e-commerce merchant and marketer’s toolbelt.

You don’t have to be an AdWords wizard to get a foothold in Google Shopping.  For a run-down of AdWords Product Listing Ads, check out our previous blog on how to set up Product Listing Ads to get started.

Questions? Comments? Baking advice? Post below!

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