US retailers benefitting from Google product listing ads - Marin report

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A new report from Marin Software shows how US retailers have pushed their budget towards new product listing ads after the monetisation of Google Shopping last October.

Google is set to introduce a similar PPC model to its Shopping search in the UK this February.

The stats from Marin focus on the way US retailers have taken to Google product ads, with data from Q4 showing a huge upsurge around Christmas.

According to Marin's report, Internet retailers pushed around 30% of their spend onto product listing ads in Q4, a marked increase on previous years. (Product listing ads have been available for several years but the US Google Shopping search only went fully paid in autumn 2012).

The popularity of PLAs underpins Google's decision to monetise the service: Marin says retailers spent around 600% more on Google product ads in December 2012 than in the previous January.

Interestingly, Marin's report also shows how many consumers are now using the Shopping search function to buy products. The impression share of PLAs rose 60% in December, fuelled somewhat by the increase in gift searches via Shopping.

On top of that, PLAs now get 210% more search clicks than they did this time last year - proving their popularity with online shoppers.

Good news for Google, then: with Marin's reassuring research coming hot on the heels of similar reports from RKG, Adobe and Kenshoo.

They found product listing ads got higher clickthrough rates, lower CPCs and higher conversion rates than text ads - and delivered a better return on advertising spend.

In almost every instance, Google product ads have out-performed traditional text ads - only average order values seem to have dipped. This could be a result of merchants still getting used to the new system, or might be attributable to more specific results in Shopping giving consumers less reason to hang around browsing on any given site.

Although the intense rush of shopping around Christmas will no doubt have given the stats a disproportionate headstart, so it will be interesting to see how the UK introduction of paid ads in Google Shopping pans out.

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