Don't miss out! Check out our limited-time SEO service promo

Best Practices for Setting Up a Product Listing Ads Campaign

White Shark Media

11 years ago



Setting up a Product Listing Ads Campaign (PLA) is as important as setting up a regular search or display network campaign. If you set it up in an ineffective way, your results will not be ideal.

Since PLA campaigns are still a bit new, there is still a lot of confusion as to how to set it up both on the AdWords account and on the Google Merchant center account.

Let’s proceed to take a look at some of the best practices regarding PLA campaigns setup.

Creating and Establishing Initial Settings

The first step would be to simply create a new campaign on your existing AdWords account. To do this, just log in and click on the tab to ‘Create a New Campaign’, then select ‘Search’, and under the drop down menu just choose ‘PLA’.

Once that’s done, you proceed as you would with a regular search campaign by setting up locations targeted, budget, ads delivery method, languages etc.

Creating and Establishing Initial Settings on Google AdWords - White Shark Media Blog

Here, it’s very important to link up your AdWords account to the right Google Merchant center, otherwise your ads will not run, as there would not be a data feed the campaign could use.

To do this you need to log in to your Google Merchant Center account, click on ‘Settings’, and then on ‘AdWords’. Finally, enter your AdWords Client ID and click on ‘Link Account’.

Once that’s done, go back to your AdWords account and under ‘Ad Extension’, you would have to select the Google Merchant Center ID already linked up to your AdWords account.

Now, your accounts are linked up and your PLA campaign should be ready to run as soon as you finish creating it and proceed to activate it.

Creating and Establishing Initial Settings on Google AdWords - White Shark Media Blog

Choosing the Right Products to Set Up for the New PLA Campaign

Just imagine, you’re a computer store doing ecommerce and you just created your first PLA campaign. As you created your data feed, your IT manager included a huge data feed that basically included every single product in your inventory.

The problem with this set up is that just as high-end laptops and desktop computers with high prices were included, so were some accessories that are very low value items.

Let’s say an optical mouse is sold for $5 and your profit on just one sale of those is almost zero, so paying on avg. for 20 clicks at $0.50 it’s a $10 avg. cost per conversion. As you do the math, you’ll realize you are losing money by advertising those low priced and zero margin products.

Ideally, you would exclude those products from your data feed to avoid those issues.

Now, how could you know what products to include on the data feed for your new PLA campaign?

Determine Which Products Are More Important to Include

If you have a search campaign running with conversion tracking installed, then you could identify which products are converting well at an acceptable cost per conversion. To do this, you could take a look at the last 6 months or even an all time report to identify your historically best converting keywords and products.

Another option is to use Google Analytics data from your website to identify the best selling items. If you have Analytics installed on your website, and even better, if you have ecommerce tracking enabled, then you can take a look at your historical data and also identify specific products that are selling well.

Once you’ve done your research, you’ll be able to identify your best selling products and start creating new ad groups for them. This will provide you with a solid foundation to start building and setting up the ad groups for your PLA campaign.

Avoid Using Just One Single Ad Group for All Your Products

When you create a new PLA campaign, Google will allow you to create a new ad group for the products from your linked up data feed.

By working on multiple clients’ PLA’s, we’ve found that most people just set up one ad group usually labeled by Google as just”All Products”.

This is a very common mistake made by most advertisers that are new to PLA’s. That’s Google’s default setting, but as with other default settings, they are not the best approach to set up a successful PLA campaign.

In this case, what’s fundamentally wrong with having just one ad group set up is that you have the same bid for every single product on your data feed.

The second problem with this set up is that you won’t be able to have highly specific ads for each of the types of computers you want to promote.

Setting Up Different Ad Groups for a PLA

By creating separate and unique ad groups for your best selling items, you will be able set up ads mentioning special promotions or highly unique features of each individual product.

Creating additional ad group for a PLA campaign is as simple as clicking on the ad group tab and following through the process.

Setting Up Different Ad Groups for a PLA - White Shark Media Blog

1. Create a Name for Your New Ad Group

Here you could use the name of the product you are going to promote on this ad group. In the case you want to promote different products on the same ad group you could use a name like the category of products like Men Cross Training Shoes.

Here you could also include additional promotions as they would work as the “ads” that show next to your PLA image ads on Google’s search results page.

Campaign Name Creation on Google AdWords - White Shark Media Blog

According to Google, the best way to use the promo line is to highlight a unique feature of the product or include promo codes for special discounts or free shipping.

Once you have created the ad group and included the promotion, the next step will be to create auto targets for the ad group.
Campaign Name Creation on Google AdWords - White Shark Media Blog

2. Use Product Targets

Product targets are required for the PLA ads to run. They basically allow you to show your ads for search queries that are related to the active products on your Google Merchant center data feed.

Here you can select how many product targets you want to include in that particular ad group. If you want to control bids very closely and want the most relevant ad promotions possible, then you could just include one product target.

In case you want to create an ad group with various product targets from a similar category like Men’s Athletic Shoes, you can create multiple product targets for the same ad group.

The only limitation here is that you’ll have the same promotions and bids for each of the products included on the ad group.

Product Targets on Google AdWords - White Shark Media Blog

3. Set Up a Bid for the Ad Group

Now for the final step you would need to set up a bid for the ad group. Here it’s important to keep in mind that your ad group bid should depend on the price of the product targets you have chosen.

If you have products with a higher margin, then you could afford a higher bid as each conversion would justify a higher ad spend since the ROI would be acceptable.

On the other hand, if the margin or profit on the product targets is lower, then you should use a lower bid, as margins on those products would not be as high.

Ad Groups Bid on Google AdWords - White Shark Media Blog

This approach would give you a lot more control over both your bids and the message you want to deliver to your potential clients searching for your products.

Just think of your PLA as a regular search campaign, you don’t want to have all your keywords piled up in just one ad group. This would be the wrong set up, as it would limit you to have the same ads for every single keyword on your campaign.

Remember that you want to set up tightly themed ad groups, keywords and ads, just as you do on a search campaign.

Using Negative Keywords on PLAs

Keywords are not of any use on PLAs, so you should avoid including them because they’re not going to benefit you in any way. Now, negative keywords are a complete different story.

PLA’s do benefit from including a good negative keyword list. They basically work the same way they do on regular search campaigns, as they block irrelevant searches by preventing the ads to be shown to people using any of the negative keywords as part of their search queries.

Adding a solid list of negative keywords to your PLA can save you money in two different ways. For once, it would help you avoid irrelevant clicks. Secondly, it would boost your CTR, thus improving your campaign’s quality score and lowering your avg. CPC.

Create Product Filters

Let’s say you have a website selling computer equipment and accessories. In your data feed you have included all products you want to promote on your PLA campaigns. Also, in order to better manage your budget for each line of products, you’ve set up two different campaigns: one for computers and the other one for accessories.

If this is the case, you could set up product filers on both of your campaigns to prevent your ads from showing for the wrong product type.

In the accessories campaign, you could use laptop or desktops as product types you would like to exclude, so your accessories ads don’t show to people just looking for computers.

Conversely, on your computers campaign, you could exclude accessories as product types, so the ads only show laptops, computers, or tables.

Product filters can be very useful, but just be careful when creating these filters as you could end up doing more harm than good if you accidently exclude relevant traffic from your campaigns.

Create Product Filters on Google AdWords - White Shark Media Blog


Setting up your PLA campaign properly from the start is vital to success, as you’ll be able to gradually increase your ROI and avoid wasting money on products that are not worth advertising.

By carefully selecting the products to include on your data feed, creating tightly themed ad groups with their individual bids and promotional ads, you should have a solid base to start running your PLA campaign.

Also, remember that installing conversion tracking and linking your Google Analytics to have e-commerce tracking is part of the ideal set up to have your PLA running as smooth as possible.

Once you start running it and gather valuable data, you would be able to optimize based on actual ROI. Just as you would do on a regular search campaign, you could pause ad groups, raise or lower bids in order to increase your campaign profit margin

Free Adwords Book