Retiring PLA campaigns make way for Google Shopping campaigns

Today, Google announced that all advertisers will be migrating to the new Google Shopping Campaign structure at the end of August. The date was carefully chosen to give merchants ample time to migrate over to Shopping Campaigns in preparation for Q4 2014.

Google has already started making subtle changes to the backend capabilities of the current PLA campaigns to ‘encourage’ early migration, including removing the ability to validate product targets within AdWords.

What This Means for Advertisers:

While the way in which Product Listing Ads are served will not change, these new Google Shopping Campaigns offer several advantages. Google will now start providing competitive metrics that were not previously available within PLAs. Most notably, advertisers will see their Benchmark Click Thru Rates and Impression Share data, giving more competitive insight. (Google initially tried to report on Average Position Rank when first launching PLAs in 2010, but discontinued the feature due to inaccurate reporting capabilities.)

Advertisers will also see a much simpler, intuitive set up in the backend. Instead of constantly updating the Grouping or Labels columns within the actual data feed, the new Shopping Campaigns offer a variety of fields the advertiser can target including Brand, Product Type and Product ID (individual products). Users can also edit one of the five Custom Labels Columns within their data feed to further target and segment their product catalogue. Google also boldly changed the classic AdGroup setup to a new set up of Product Groups, their custom PLAs solution to help advertisers see how their products are being clustered together.

Advertisers should be aware that they could set a campaign priority within the Settings tab of the New Shopping Campaigns. The priority ranking will determine which of your Shopping Campaigns will be shown most frequently. This setting was not previously available within the old PLA structure. Furthermore, advertisers should be wary that current automated bidding solutions would not be directly transferable to the new Shopping Campaigns.

Although these changes from Google seem to be positive for advertisers, it’s always important to remember the key components of PLAs: excellent data quality, up-to-date pricing and accurate product categorization. These will remain the biggest determining factors of how PLAs are served. It’s now up to advertisers to best utilize Google’s new Shopping Campaigns to expand their knowledge base and grow their online footprint.