Google doubles down on Product Listings Ads with expandable mega layout

Our eagle-eyed friends over at ChannelAdviser spotted a test that Google is conducting, which allows the user to expand the PLAs shown for any given search query.

The new interface includes an arrow icon in the bottom right corner of the product display panel. Click on it and the amount of listings shown will at least double.

Here’s what it looks like:

expanded plas

If this test is rolled out as a new feature, then it will result in a lot of organic and paid text ads being edged out of the picture, with PLAs almost completely taking over the top of the page.

At any rate, it is clear that this should increase search marketers’ focus on optimising PLAs, as the other listing types will have been usurped.

As one of up to 16 ads being shown, this is potentially great news for brands that aren’t chasing – or able to attain – the very top listings. Ads beyond ninth place, that would otherwise not be shown, will now feature prominently at the top of the search results. Win.

That being said, it will be harder to get the attention of the searcher, given the competition and lack of elbow-room.

As Channel Advisor says:

“If the new layout becomes commonplace, CTRs could be affected, since each ad in a unit is now competing with as many as 15 other products.”

PLAs in demand among retailers

Interest from retailers in Google Shopping and its PLAs is fast increasing, according to data published by ChannelAdvisor in December. The study is based on data from thousands of retailers.

It found that Google Shopping accounted for 31.7% growth in the holiday season, compared with the previous year. That’s almost double the growth rate of Amazon, which is the next best performing individual third party marketplace.

The study also states that Google Shopping/Product Listing Ads have an average conversion rate of 3.19%, down from 3.61% in December 2014.

This kind of test comes as no surprise, as Google moves ever closer towards a one-stop shop, serving up results that give the user all of the information they need, without having to click onto another site. The PLAs of the future could well become one-click conversion events.

It also reflects Google’s need to show more paid results, to move the revenue needle. The next step could be for it to go upwardly responsive, for those of us with large monitors…

massively expanded plas

I jest. Kind of.

Making the most of the PLA format may have been one of Google’s New Year’s Resolutions, as it has also integrated them into its image search, according to this post from Jennifer Slegg.

What do you think? Have you managed to replicate the test? How are PLAs working out for you?

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