Product Listing Ads and Google Shopping changes explained in white paper from ClickThrough Marketing

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PPC experts at digital marketing agency ClickThrough have created a white paper for online advertisers, explaining upcoming Google Shopping changes and the shift to product listing ads in the UK.

From February 13, Google will start to phase out free listings in its Shopping search results. It is shifting to a pay-per-click advertising model instead.

By summer, all Google Shopping results will be paid for by advertisers.

Online businesses which want their products to appear in Google Shopping will need to create product listing ads (PLAs), and Google will charge businesses to include their PLAs in its Shopping searches.

Product listing ads are very different to traditional text ads in AdWords advertising. Sellers need to upload a product feed to Google Merchant Center, and link that to an AdWords account.

Instead of using keyword selection and bids to prioritise paid search ads, the Merchant Center will automatically return relevant products to consumers using the Shopping search function.

That means online businesses which have previously enjoyed free traffic from Google Shopping need to ensure product feeds are uploaded to the Merchant Center, optimised for PLAs, and linked to AdWords in the next two weeks – or risk disappearing from Google Shopping altogether.

Because PLAs don’t use bid aggregation, many smaller businesses are able to compete with larger retailers, regardless of their budget. Google is sharply focussing on the quality of products feeds and product descriptions as part of its ranking algorithm.

ClickThrough Marketing’s director of paid search, Amy Bott, explained: “The change to paid-for results in Google Shopping is one of the biggest in search in some time.

“Retailers have pretty much enjoyed a free ride for the past ten years: with targeted traffic landing on their product pages for free via Google Shopping. That’s all about to come to an end.

“Google is monetising its Shopping search to help improve the user experience: bigger, image-led ads attract way more clicks and conversions, whilst the inclusion of price information means consumers can quickly compare costs and make a purchase confidently, straight from the Shopping results page.

“It’s really important for online businesses to get their heads around this shift: so we’ve created a free white paper which explains all the changes that advertisers need to be aware of. We hope it helps.”

Google Shopping in the US changed to a PPC model in October last year. Recent reports on its performance have found product listing ads get higher clickthrough rates and conversions, as well as lower click costs for advertisers.

Visitors to the ClickThrough website can download the white paper on product listing ads in Google Shopping throughout February.


Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact: Ali Harris, head of content at ClickThrough Marketing. Call +44 (0)1543 410 014 or email

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