Product listing ads – also known as PLAs. They’re the convenient content that lands at the top of the page in a merchandise search. These ads make it simpler for shoppers to find and buy what they’re looking for – quickly, effortlessly. Red Converse sneakers? Found. Fuchsia lipstick? Check. Product listing ads can be especially lucrative during the holidays when gift buying and online shopping reach new heights ─ and high they will go this year.
Retail eCommerce sales in the US are expected to jump 16.6% during the 2017 holiday season, driven by increases in mobile commerce (eMarketer). In fact, the eCommerce share of total retail sales during the holiday shopping season this year is projected to reach a record 11.5% (eMarketer). A well-executed product listing ad campaign can significantly increase your share of this haul. And, it’s not too late to start planning for increased traffic and growth. In fact, you can continue to tweak and change your ad strategy right up to – well, Christmas Eve.
So, what’s the secret to optimizing your product listing ad campaigns, spend, and strategy? How can you make the most out of this holiday season? It’s not that difficult, but it requires time and attention to data. Here are some tips and tricks to help you drive results through holiday-focused PLAs. Remember, it’s not too soon – and never too late to start.
Simplify the structure
Account structure is key to managing any product-listing feed on Google, Yahoo, Bing, or Amazon. The right structure enables you to see and understand performance – what’s working and where you’re lagging. And with this data, you can allocate budget to the high performers that will deliver results. Try grouping similar products together. This will allow you to identify which groups are performing well (or not), and tweak bids or budget. This also gives you the insight you need to “turn off” products without jeopardizing other product ad groups. In other words, you can ditch the non-performers and replace them with something else that’s going to deliver results.
So how do you structure product listing ads? You begin by creating three tiers. Start with a high-priority campaign – that is, clearance or sale items, new arrivals, or merchandise you want to sell first. This will give you the fastest return on your investment. Next, build a regular priority campaign for products that are tested and that you know will sell. Lastly, create a low-priority campaign for any products that may not apply to the other 2 structures.
We work closely with a hair products brand that has finessed this approach. Their top tier is seasonal items, promoting a “Summer-ready” hair category. The middle tier comprises their standard products – shampoos, conditioners, gels, and products that convert dependably. The bottom tier is clearance items such as out-of-season products. They drive consistent results across each campaign, and their ad spend and product line up are tuned in real-time.
Apply data wisely
Expect your product ad costs and media spend to increase during the holidays. Click-through and conversion rates will also rise along with cost per acquisition. When this happens, remember that the increase in holiday sales should offset this change – and make you more money in return, if deployed correctly.
One area to check on a regular basis is your auction insights report. I’d recommend checking it daily – even twice a day during the holiday season. This unveils where your competitors’ ads rank against yours. It also provides data on market share you’ve acquired in your space. Use this data to stay agile. Make on-the-fly decisions such as budget increases and product changes in a campaign based on the results you are seeing. Something not performing? Remove it and replace it with another product. Again, pulling these reports is easier when your account structure is simple and understandable. See how it all ties in together?
A big driver of eCommerce will be the continued growth of mCommerce sales ─ particularly smartphone commerce, which will rise by an estimated 57.8% in 2017 (eMarketer). In fact, in Q1 of this year, more than 62% off all clicks on Google PLAs originated from smartphones – up from 49% the previous year (eMarketer). So, make sure that your eCommerce strategy is mobile-friendly. It’s no secret that Google rewards mobile-friendly sites that serve up more timely, relevant results with higher rankings. And, of course, there’s no point in investing in PLAs if shoppers can’t easily navigate to merchandise and buy on their smartphone.
Product listing ads are likely one of many other paid media channels you are investing in. Other threads in your paid media tapestry may include affiliate marketing or Facebook ads. Remember that all your paid media channels work together. If there’s one specific competitor you cannot outrank because of budget, try moving that investment to another channel and overthrowing that competitor.
Here’s to a prosperous holiday season!