May 06 2013

How Product Listing Ads Attract More Targeted Traffic

attracting visitors

As an eCommerce manager, one of the primary challenges you face is getting visitors to your site. Even more vital (and difficult of course) is getting targeted traffic, which you count on to convert into sales. Running pay-per-click ads on Google Adwords makes collecting targeted traffic easy, but such ease means your competitors are probably doing the same thing. If you want to generate more targeted traffic than your competitors, you’ll need to take advantage of Product Listing Ads.

Product Listing Ads (highlighted in green below) occupy the space just above the organic search results in Google.

just above the organic search results in Google

Originally, Google provided this space to eCommerce stores for free, but in May 2012 they were transformed into paid ads. Much like your regular text PPC ads, you’ll be charged when a search engine user clicks on your ad.

The advantages of running Product Listings are many. Visually, they grab users’ attention. The large page real estate they take up helps overpower any other results on that page. Our data shows that in general, you can expect Product Listings to provide 50-100% higher ROI than your Adwords account average. Conversion rates are also higher than site average with Product Listings, proof that the traffic they bring in is more targeted.

Getting Started

Getting started with Product Listing Ads begins with a product feed. A product feed is a simple file on your server, which Google looks for to quickly gather details on all your products. Think of it as an index in a book. Besides listing all of the products it tells Google everything it needs to know about each product: from the location of the picture to the price.

You’ll need a Google Merchants account to tell the search engine where this file is located on your server. Connecting your Google Merchant account with your Adwords account will then enable the Product Listing Ads in Adwords. This is easily done in your Google Merchants account. Just follow the prompts you see on your dashboard.

Tips to Optimizing Your Product Listings

Setting Up Your Product Feed

If your store is running Magento, the biggest obstacle for you will be generating your product feed. Although Magento has the ability to natively generate product feeds, using an extension that is more robust and customizable than Magento’s native implementation will save you lots of time and headache.

Adwords isn’t the only service that takes advantage of product feeds. Shopping comparison engines such as Nextag, Pricegrabber, and use product feeds to populate your data. If you’re part of an affiliate network, your affiliates can take advantage of a product feed to display your products on their sites. Selling on Amazon? Amazon also provides the ability to use a product feed.

Managing all your feeds may sounds a little daunting, but extensions, such as GoMage’s Feed Pro, make it easy to manage all of your feeds from the same place.

admin panel

Updating Your Feed Appropriately

Do you have a high turnover with your products and an inventory that fluctuates often? Do you change prices occasionally to reflect sales and discounts? If you said yes to any of these things, you’ll need to update your product feeds often. How often? Many of our clients update their feeds daily.

For example, if you don’t update your feed, and a shopper clicks an advertisement for a shirt that went out of stock yesterday, the shopper will bounce from your site since that shirt is no longer available to purchase. Not only does this decrease conversion rates, it also costs you money because that shopper still clicked on your ad. The same thing goes with price. If the price in your product listing ad is lower than the current price, it’s unlikely that a shopper will also convert into a sale.

Naming Your Products Correctly

When creating a traditional pay-per-click ad, you assign keywords to Ad Groups that will trigger these ads. Product Listings work a little differently. You cannot assign keywords to them.

Instead, when naming products, make sure to at least include the brand, model, product type, and SKU if possible. Other important attributes should be included as applicable such as Mens, Womens, Color, Material, etc. Think of these attributes as your keywords and use them to name your products. This will increase the chance of your Product Listing Ad displaying when users are searching for those keywords.

Making Sure the Product Image Is Appropriate

Earlier, we showed you a screenshot of Product Listings when searching for the term “red polo shirt.” Notice the first and last ad displayed:

grey shirts showing up for red shirt search

The shirts aren’t red even though they have the word “red” in their product names! Because of this disconnect, search engine users will have a lower click through rate on your ads. Product listing ads are enhanced when the appropriate image is used. Implementing the appropriate image goes back to the proper setup of your product feed. Once again, extensions make this process easier. The result is an increase in targeted traffic.

In Conclusion

When Google announced the transition from free product listings to a pay-per-click model, there was a storm of controversy. However, over the course of almost a year, that controversy has died down as advertisers are finding that Product Listing Ads deliver a return that justifies the cost. Taking the time to properly set up and implement Product Listings for an ecommerce store is very important step that can provide a significant and permanent boost to your online revenue.

Blue Acorn


Jan 16 2014

Thanks for writing the article for those working on digital marketing. It does help us have a better clue about how to generate traffic to the website.

Apr 20 2015

The article is really helpful.


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