PPC News Roundup: Amazon Tests PLAs on AdWords

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Sarah Kemp and Rachel Poole detail the latest in paid search news, including Amazon’s use of PLAS, chatter around Google AdWords testing underlined display URLs, and a look back at paid search changes in 2016.

Amazon Tests PLAs on AdWords

Amazon logos

Amazon is in the process of testing Product Listing Ads in Google AdWords. The retailer is now increasing its presence across Product Listing Ads, according to recent research from marketing agency, Merkle.

Until now, Amazon has been absent from Product Listing Ads - it has only run standard text ads. However, PLAs have played a crucial role in the paid search marketing landscape, with an increasingly significant share of all e-retailers’ ad clicks.

Amazon’s absence from Product Listing Ads has been surrounded by the speculation that Google would remain as consumers’ first port of call.

Data from Auction Insights suggests that Amazon started testing the use of PLAs on 20 December 2016, gaining the most impressions across homeware products. Its impression share continued to spike over Christmas.

If Amazon continues to push the use of Product Listing Ads, it will inevitably have an effect on other competing retailers.

Google AdWords Spotted Testing Display URLs

Recent chatter around the underlining of display URLs has culminated in a screenshot posted by SEO, Ronnie Jones, on his Twitter account.

Tweet image

The change suggests that Google is currently testing the underlining of display URLs from each ad in order to improve the user experience.

Search Engine Roundtable reported that the change was not triggered by an extension or third party activity, and that the changes have not been specific to one browser alone.

2016: A Year In Paid Search

2016 calendar

Search Engine Land’s Ginny Marvin details the ups and downs of the past year’s paid search changes, from significant interface updates driven mostly by mobile, to expanded text ads. Here’s a rundown of 2016 in paid search terms.

Expanded Text Ads

With the removal of the right hand side ads on desktop, Google began to roll out the use of expanded text ads. In an attempt to unify the look across desktop and mobile, expanded text ads gave advertisers the opportunity to increase the length of their ads’ titles and descriptions.


With increasing competition from social platforms, Google launched a new carousel format for Product Listing Ads, and also introduced Customer Match – helping advertisers to target their Shopping campaigns more accurately. Google also introduced the purchase button – allowing users to buy directly from PLAs on mobile. GTINs became a requirement for branded products in Google Shopping too, and Google also announced that all brands should have at least 150 ratings (as opposed to just 30) over the past 12 months in order for ratings to appear in their ads.


Local also saw changes in 2016, with ads being introduced to the local pack, as well as the introduction of Promoted Places pins and updates to real-time, in-store data being displayed.


Google also made the shift from just intent targeting to demographic and intent targeting, helping advertisers to make the shift to more accurate targeting. Age and gender demographic targeting was introduced, as was the opportunity to target similar audiences in search terms. Google also introduced additional support for cross-device retargeting, extending this to Retargeting Lists for Search Ads (RLSA).


2016 also saw the new Analytics 360 suite arrive. The premium setup features a new version of Google Analytics Premium, as well as tag manager, and Adometry attribution tools. It also features a new data management dashboard, and a testing tool for optimisation purposes.

More Paid Search News and Advice

Read our previous PPC news roundup: New AdWords Reports Show In-Store Visits

Does your paid search strategy need refreshing for 2017? Talk to our team of PPC management experts for advice on how to refine your strategy this year.

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