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Product Listing Ads "Companies have to act strategically when bidding!"

Google's new shopping portal promises to be a profitable business for companies. In the US, Google introduced Product Listing Ads (PLA) a few months ago. Today, February 13th, PLA will also be launched in Germany. This means that the free placement of products in this country is a thing of the past. With PLA, companies can buy targeted traffic instead. OnlineMarketing.de spoke to Niels Jensen, Client Service Director Central Europe at Adobe, about the new shopping portal and ways to make searches more efficient.

OnlineMarketing.de: Already today, 10 percent of the expenditures for search engine marketing flow into PLA. No wonder, because a presence in a targeted product search can be very profitable.How can marketers benefit from the new shopping tool?

Niels Jensen: Generally one can say that with PLA a much more efficient and therefore higher quality placement is possible. Although the new offer is chargeable for advertisers, it is ultimately more profitable. Because in addition to better control, they also have an influence on the ranking and thus enjoy greater transparency.

OM.de: And what exactly does that look like?

Niels Jensen: In order to achieve these profits, retailers have to adapt their ads as precisely as possible to the user's search and thus proceed strategically when bidding. If, for example, “brown handbag” is entered in the search query, the PLA actually only shows brown handbags. The process behind it is much more complex than before, but there are already solutions for the correct implementation. The Adobe Media Optimizer (formerly AdLens), part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, is one of the first and so far few bid management systems that already support PLA.

OM.de: What are the advantages of Adobe Media Optimizer when using the new advertising tool?

Niels Jensen: With the Media Optimizer, the demanding workflow for placing PLA can be efficiently implemented by adapting the bids to the individual search. In general, the Media Optimizer only allows the PLA to be integrated into campaign management. We use our technology to guarantee the connection to the Google Merchant Center, which essentially functions as an ad server for Google PLA. Another advantage is that bid management enables automated access to PLA. In addition, the Media Optimizer enables tracking and reporting of all six Google targeting criteria - these are AdWords Label, AdWords Grouping, Conditions (new or used product), Brand, Product Type and Product ID.

OM.de: As a current analysis of several PLA campaigns by Adobe shows, multi-click assist funnels in particular play a decisive role. The proportion of supporting funnels is substantially higher if a PLA campaign is part of this funnel. What is behind this statement?

Niels Jensen: The evaluation has shown that funnels that started with a click on a PLA ad end in 15 percent of the cases with a conversion to a regular search ad. In other words, it means that Last Click Attribution doesn't assign that 15 percent to PLA campaigns.

OM.de: What conclusions do you draw from this?

Niels Jensen: On the one hand, efficient management of complex PLA campaigns is more important than ever before. This not only includes feed, but also campaign and bid management. Our evaluation also showed that consumers click on a PLA ad earlier in the conversion path compared to a normal AdWords ad, where multi-click funnels only make up 10 percent of all paths.

OM.de: The evaluation also shows that multi-click attribution is essential for Google PLA. While 15 percent or more of all funnels that start with a PLA ad don't end with a corresponding ad, the last click perspective of PLA performance is underestimated. What should companies pay attention to?

Niels Jensen: In order to gain a clear understanding of the performance of a PLA campaign, advertisers must consider the performance with a multi-click attribution. PLA breaks up the search channel and now combines pure search touchpoints with all other channels such as display or social. The ads are bigger, more clicks should be consistent. And that is what we also see in our customers.

OM.de: PLA got off to a very successful start in the USA and a return on investment of 119 percent has already been achieved. How do you see your prognoses for the German market?

Niels Jensen: What works in the USA should also work in Germany, as the tests we carried out with some customers during the beta phase show. A new performance channel has emerged with Google PLA. Understanding this is important for advertisers, especially in the retail sector. We refer to this as a professionalization of the previously free and now fee-based Google shopping. The connection to the Google AdWords API and the AdWords Editor are clear indicators of Google's intentions. We expect both advertising spend and results to increase in local markets. Experience has shown that the currently still low CPC level will not last long. We forecast an increase in CPC prices over the current year. For established eCommerce companies and large retailers, Google PLAs are still a must have!

OM.de: Thank you for the interview.