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Google PLA Policy Restrictions Loosened

The switch from free Google Product Search to paid Product Listing Ads has hit advertisers in the restricted content online retail space – pharmacy, adult content, tobacco & firearms – particularly hard.  Many retailers are struggling to find budget for a previously free traffic source, while these advertisers have also been scrambling to get specific answers as to why their products (paid or free) are not showing and how to remedy it.

Google was pretty tight-lipped about this policy change.  Even as an agency, we weren’t given much information beyond ‘…there is a back-end Google merchant center policy issue that is preventing your products from showing…’

Particularly in the pharmacy space, this was a tough ‘pill to swallow’. Even though advertisers have gone out of their way to adhere to Google Pharmacy policy, (including obtaining an expensive VIPPs certification), a steady revenue stream instantly disappeared.  To make matters more confusing, trickles of traffic continued to flow through on a handful of products, with no obvious commonalities or trends to be rolled out program wide.

Well, after months of frustration, we are happy to see that the restrictions that magically appeared on 6/1 seem to have disappeared just in time for Q4, on or around 10/1 (at least for certified pharmacy advertisers).

Below is a graph of impression volume by day for two clients – an online pharmacy (graph 1) and a retailer with a solid presence in health, beauty, vision, and pharmacy products (graph 2).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We want to know what you’re seeing – Are other certified online pharmacies seeing the same trend? How about other restricted content areas – any bounce back?

More PLA News and Improvements for Q4

Google just recently announced that 10/17 is the official date of transition to 100% PLA traffic for Google Shopping.  Their blog also offered some suggestions for holiday preparedness as well as touted their new targeting segment – ProductID.

We’re excited about recent developments with PLAs, but with new features come questions:

1) Can advertisers bid lower on an individual product (ID) than the “all products” auto-target, if the data suggests doing so?

Product Target 1 – All Products = $1.00 bid                  Product Target 2 – ID 12345 = $0.25 bid

So, Will ID = 12345 go into the auction with a $1.00 bid or $0.25 bid?

2) How is traffic volume affected by use of the ProductID targeting feature?  Let’s assume an advertiser has 200 products, but right now only has one Product Target = ‘All Products”. In the last 7 days, the advertiser received 1,000 impressions from that Product Target. Instead, let’s assume the same advertiser has 200 Product Targets, one per ProductID and no ‘All Products’ target. In those previous 7 days, would the advertiser have qualified for the same 1,000 impressions?

We are hoping the added auto-target layer improves the already strong PLA performance for many of RKG’s clients.

  • Mia Brennan
    Mia Brennan is Director of PPC Testing & Analytics at RKG....
  • Comments
    3 Responses to “Google PLA Policy Restrictions Loosened”
    1. JACK ELLIOTT says:

      Is PLA ROI posiitive?

      Is Adwords less effective with a PLA campaign?

      Jack,

    2. Mia Brennan says:

      Hi Jack – Great questions! PLAs are ROI positive for most of our clients. We’ve seen that they often have a higher CR than their text ad counterparts, particularly for tail queries. PLAs appeal to the shopper because of the image & the price shown in the ad – shoppers know what they’re getting before they get to an ecommerce site. As Google shows PLAs for more and more queries and PLAs take up more and more room on the SERP, we have started to see some cannibalization – with PLAs ‘stealing’ traffic that text ads used to get. However, I don’t think that is a reason not to participate. If you are not involved in PLAs and your competitors are, you will see the reduction in Google text ad traffic, without any augmentation from PLAs to offset it.

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