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Best Practices and Setting Up of Product Listing Ads

Hi Google Community.


I would just like to put across what we have found in our company as the best way to set up PLA's.


At first we thought about adding PLA's to existing campaigns but this got confusing and started eating budget. We then thought we should just put an auto-target covering every aspect of the site in one ad group in it's own campaign. However in doing this we took away the ability to see where conversions were coming from and what was spending up most the allocated budget. And so we decided to split out the campaign into brands. By covering all brands on the site in different ad groups we were able to;


  1. We can do brand specific promotions
  2. We can monitor which are the best performing brands
  3. We can drop poor performing brands off which wouldn't be possible with all products.
  4. Easier to manage
  5. We can see which brands are bringing in the conversions
  6. We can set the PLA's our own budget so it doesn't eat other campaigns budget up
  7. Once the campaign has ran for a decent period we can see which brands are popular and possibly split off to advertise them if we haven't in the past. Opens up new opportunities for future campaigns.


So how exactly do you create PLA's?


Firstly create a search network campaign as you would any other, assigning it a budget, taking off display network and if you're like me set the ads to rotate. We then took an export off the sitemap of all the brand names and put them in AdWords editor, as they have come straight off the sitemap it makes it simpler later on when doing the auto-targets. Make sure to assign each ad group a desired max CPC. Finally once all the brands have been covered it's time to post.


Before continuing make sure AdWords is connected up with the Merchant Centre.


Open AdWords up and add product extensions to the Product Listing Ads campaign. This must be done in order for the feed to pick up the products. Go into each ad group and add the correct auto-target (Filtered by brand) this should be exactly the same as the brand name. Remember to validate before clicking save! If an error appears the brand either hasn't been spelt right or in some cases the brand isn't eligable for running PLA's


Once everything has been covered go into the individual ad groups and create ads for each and every brand. The benefit of structuring the account through brands means that you can add sales and promotions to the straplines or a brand related description, else you can simply put a brand USP i.e. Free Delivery.....


I hope this has been helpful!



Kind Regards,

Liam Bendelow

about Liam Bendelow

<p>My current role at Visualsoft UK ltd is working part of a PPC team. In my role I am required to look at clients accounts with a critical eye, picking up on missed area's and optimisation in order to get maximum performance for our clients. My role also requires me to keep up to date on the latest Google features and putting them through the required testing and implementing of them across accounts. New techniques and strategies are made constantly in order to find the best performance on a client to client basis. Training of new recruits and demonstrations of new features to existing members of the team is an additional aspect to what my job entails. I am officially Google qualified and looking to broaden my knowledge of AdWords itself. I came to Google community in order to help others and share what experience and strategies I have with people in the same situation.</p> <p>If you would like to get in touch <a href="">email me</a> and I'd be happy to help.</p>

September 2012

At the really advanced level, I would recommend not only targeting each brand with their own PLA campaign, but also have an ad group per product.... This will allow you to have control as the space becomes more competitive.

AdWiser Top Contributor
September 2012

Nice article, Liam, in an area I'm particularly interested in.


Indeed, as David is pointing out, the key is segmentation here. The deeper the better, as it allows you to bid at product level.


In my case even at brand level there are products with high margin and products with low margin and bids should vary accordingly.


I must admit, PLAs are currently keeping me busy for the most part. But ... easy as they are to set up, they are pretty hard to control. Too many people in the research and consideration phase get to see the product listing ads, and my guess/opinion is that for somebody in this phase, ONE product is rarely the answer. And I can see it in the CTR, the bounce rate, time on site and pages per visit for the search terms generating clicks. I don't want my ads to show for people searching for "plasma", or "hdtv", or "LED TV", and get the visit of someone who's trying to understand the technology. For such people, a particular TV model is not the answer.


And this is why search terms reports need to be run very frequently, in order to find the terms which are not appropriate for PLAs and use them as negative keywords. Even so, things are tricky, because if one wants to play safe, he should use negative exact matches, because as soon as we move to phrase, we can very easily block useful searches, which contain something related to the product but also something related to a wider product category for instance.


For the moment, my take is that it would be great if I could reach a point when product listing ads only get shown to somebody searching specifically for that product, or something very close to it. Not the category, not the brand in general. But precisely that product. Hints that this is the way to go can be seen in the CTR and also the CPC for search terms including the SKU, for instance. As soon as the search term is more specific, the system (I assume) assigns it a higher relevance, and thus the CTR and CPC, as a consequence, are higher and lower, respectively.


I'm really looking forward to other people's opinions.

September 2012

Hi all,


I agree this is a little dated even now! We do different testing acress the account such as a category based campaign for all the departments on site. This obviously is generic as is the brands campaign.


In addition to these 2 starter campaigns we combine the both as we would building any other campaign so Brand + Category, this adds a further depth to the PLA's making them a lot more specific and costing a lot less. We have also found that the conversion rates on these campaigns are a lot higher than most other campaigns as not only do we provide the users with a more specific product but it narrows the amount of products that can be potentially shown.


This article was posted by me a while ago and I was asked to post it here so that for anyone starting a PLA campaign had a rough starting point. It would be good in the future if you could refine it even further as you mentioned above. The current method of targeting allows you to refine the results and for anyone with the exact key phrase relating to the product will have it shown.


This is more of a safety net for advertisers as they have the ability to grab the more generic users that have a rough idea what they want to buy. It's all about getting the right balance of people who know exactly what they want but is rarely searched and people who are browsing and are searched alot. We would like to hit that perfect happy medium as we can never determine exactly what a user is going to search. As said above this is a starter campaign for anyone who wants to get the ball rolling and can then branch out later using combining techniques.


Kind Regards,


March 2013

Great piece Liam , very helpful. Very new to this game and getting through this to do product listings for our client. one query - where do we get to do this bit...

"The benefit of structuring the account through brands means that you can add sales and promotions to the straplines or a brand related description',

Thanks BB


August 2013

Good article. 


Segmentation is fine, what about overlaping bids ? Does it have any effect on the performance. As we read some recommendation of creating a "All Products" auto target, as it act as safe net to catch all the missing action.


So for clarity, product A will bid on - 

1. Brand level - Highest bid

2. Category level - Medium Bid

3. All Products - Lowest bid


Now if the bidding is overlap in these three methods. Does it enhance its chances or create more confusion while tracking and looking at reports.


I also think this kind of approach will cover all the grounds.

August 2013

Hi all,


Another change! We now set up our campaigns under the following structure:


PLA by ID - Highest bids - Top 25-50 products on site.

PLA by Brand + Category - High Bids - Top categories from top brand below

PLA by Brand - Medium Bids - Top 3-5 Brands

PLA All Products - Low Bids - Captures the rest, still exposure but pay little for these.


The reason for staggering the bids and structuring is because google will chose the most relevant product with the highest bid.


Think of PLA's like a 2p coin machine... Each stage is a peg in the machine, if you get a perfect match (long tail keyword) then the 2p coin will fall straight down, the more generic the keyword the more bounces (campaigns) it will take to find a match. Now looking at the drops - if one coin drops there is an exact match (Best to Google's knowledge), if plenty coins drop then the likelihood is that they entered a generic term and it hasn't met any of the criteriors set in the other campaigns.


I hope I haven't confused things more than they already were.


Kind Regards,