Google Introduces PLA Product Ratings
Earlier today, Google officially announced a new extension for Product Listing Ads called Product Ratings. Similar to Seller Ratings, Product Ratings are displayed on a 5-star ranking system based on aggregated data from a variety of sources across the web. These sources include merchants, editorial sites, third party aggregators, and users.
How Does This Extension Interact With Other PLA Extensions?
The Product Ratings extension is fairly low on the PLA extension priority list. Local Inventory Ads (Local PLA’s), Merchant Promotions, and Automatic Price Drops will supposedly all trump Product Ratings. At this time we are not aware of any plans to test showing multiple extensions at once. However, with Google’s tendency to continuously experiment with new SERP landscapes, it is certainly not hard to imagine that we could see these extensions serve together in the future.
How Can Advertisers Opt In?
For the initial launch, all Product Listing Ads across all merchants will be eligible for Product Ratings to show for any products for which review data is available. There is no “opt-in” button or switch; the ratings will simply start to show once the qualifications are met. Unlike Seller Ratings, Product Ratings will show for products with any rating, not just those with 3.5 stars or above.
After October, only merchants that share their product review content with Google will be eligible for this extension. Review data can be shared through either a direct feed or an approved third party aggregator. The direct feed is XML formatted and could present a barrier to entry for some merchants.
Update 7/30/14: To clarify, while advertisers do not need to opt in to have Product Ratings show during the initial July – October grace period, they will need to fill out a form provided by Google here in order to continue to show Product Ratings after October.
How Can This Best Be Leveraged?
Like any extension, Product Ratings will add visual appeal to your PLAs and can serve as a point of differentiation. Intuitively, Merchant Promotions would provide a higher boost to click through rate since it provides monetary value to the consumer. However, the yellow stars of Product Ratings have better visual pop so it will be interesting to see which extension performs better.
Keep in mind that for a given SKU, the Product Rating will be the same across all merchants, so having a product with below-average reviews will not necessarily disadvantage you compared to your competitors. As usual, the best approach will be to analyze the performance of this PLA extension compared to others to see which is most beneficial to your program.