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By now you are no doubt sick and tired reading all about “Googlegeddon“, so I thought that I would tell you a different story; one about Google Shopping (Product Listing Ads)…

PPC hubbub - Google SERP - Product Listing Ads

Google changed the SERP layout by removing ads on the right hand side and then adding another ad on the top. The potential impact of this change to text ads on Desktop & Tablet has been well documented. However, everyone seems to be forgetting about Google Shopping (PLA’s)! Yes, you are correct in thinking that they are not directly affected by this change; but I believe that they will be indirectly affected. Here’s why…

Snapshot of the changes

  1. Google removed ads from right hand side of the SERP
  2. Maximum number of text ads is now 7; 4 ads at the top, 3 at the bottom
  3. No plans to launch 4th ad on Mobile yet – however some have started to see Google testing this
  4. Google say there will be no big impact on performance. We predict that we may see an impact on CPCs & CTR and Position 4 ads though are expected to see an impact on Clicks.
  5. Changes will be predominantly on a small percentage of ‘highly commercial’ terms where the user is looking to perform a transaction on a product/service; e.g. [buy microwave]
  6. PLAs & other ad types are currently not directly affected by these changes

Impact on Product Listing Ads

Changing user focus:

We know that Google Shopping Ads (PLAs) show predominantly when there is intent to purchase in the search query. According to Google, the new SERP changes will be predominantly focused on these “high commercial” terms. Now that the text ads have been removed here from the right hand side on these queries, it means that PLAs may see an increase in performance as a result of it not being “drowned out” by text ads. This provides a ‘cleaner’ SERP, focusing the customer’s eyes & attention on the Google Shopping ads on Desktop & Tablet, in theory increasing Click Through Rate for PLAs.

If Generics eventually become even more expensive to get into Positions 1-4 on Desktop & Tablet, then Google Shopping is the best alternative for your client’s budget via these devices.

Get Scrolling:

When users look on their laptops, +80% of the results are now paid for these “highly commercial” queries, half of the paid search landscape is dominated by Product Listing Ads. If your Ad doesn’t answer a user’s query, they will have to scroll down to find the organic listings they were looking for.

Most of the time, you could argue that Amazon are within the top ranking organic listings for a big majority of products. Yes, it’s only a couple of scrolls down the page to get to the organic listings, but users expect Google to give them the answers they are looking for immediately. Google has now made it easier for users to click on a Paid ad, and indirectly given more prominence to Product Listing ads. It seems as though Google doesn’t want you to scroll down. As mentioned in my last blog, this another way for Google to keep users on Google by limiting users need to visit sites such as Amazon.

More Product Cards:

After breaking the news of Google’s changing GTIN requirements in the Merchant Centre for Google Shopping Feeds, I predicted that this would pave the way for more use of ad formats such as Product Cards. We have already seen this increase across some Retailers product listing ads via search terms for specific products. We believe that this Google SERP change will only help enhance this type of ad format, providing users with rich product information and relevant content; giving them a more valuable experience (key to some of the reasoning behind this change).

Different ad format testing?

There is a lot of space on the right hand side of the SERP now for Google to play with. We are all of the belief that this could help create less cluttered space for Knowledge Panels and Google Shopping. There has been various speculation around what Google will do with this new space, if anything at all! But I think that there could be more ad testing for PLAs, and example being with Expandable Shopping Ads.

Not Expanded:

PPC hubbub - Expanded Product Listing AdsExpanded:

PPC hubbub - Expanded Product Listing Ads

We have seen Google test expandable PLA ads in the past when the PLA was shown at the top of the SERP above text ads. Could this test be rolled out to the right hand side of the page, allowing more space for advertisers to capture traffic outside of the ‘Shopping’ tab & interface?

Summary

So even though the changes don’t directly affect Google Shopping, you can see how they may indirectly be affected. I believe that this change, as well as the GTIN changes we previously reported, could help Google to provide the user with richer results on Desktop & Tablet – with a big focus on Product Listing Ads. If you aren’t currently utilising them for your client (where have you been?!), then now is the time to test and see if they are a better use of your budget. It’s too soon to tell what the impact of these SERP changes will be on Generic activity, but you and your client will definitely be best placed if you maximise your coverage across the SERP using both Generic PPC & Google Shopping Ads more strategically.

Dan Roberts
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Dan Roberts

Founder & Author at PPC hubbub
Dan is a Google Shopping Specialist and was recently awarded Rising Star at The Drum Search Awards for the work delivered for his clients, agency and wider industry. Dan founded PPC hubbub after becoming frustrated with the lack of actionable insight and meaningful points of view for the industry.

LinkedIn - https://uk.linkedin.com/in/siondanielroberts
Dan Roberts
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