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Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I have a problem with my Shopping campaign, which is bugging me for quite a while now. My products apear on Google Shopping without any problem and I am getting good results. My stats are better than benchmark CTR's and CPC's. My products are never being shown as Product Listing Ads in Google Search though, my competitors products do.


I looked at the issue in multiple calls with AdWords Support, but never found a real problem/got a definite answer.


Things we have tried to resolve the issue:


- Uploaded the best possible images.

- Reinspection of the new images.

- Improved titles.

- Improved descriptions.

- Maximized bids.

- Added EAN codes.

- Added negatives.

- Automatic updating of price and availability.


Thank you all in advance for helping.


Regards, Dempsey


1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

auction results are based on the bid and quality.

the product-listing-ads auctions on google-search are simply
much much more competitive than on google-shopping --
fundamentally, by virtue of having far fewer ad-slots.

continuing to work with the product-listing-ads support specialists, at google,
to help pinpoint potential optimizations is usually best; since they can look
directly into both accounts and the submitted data -- forum-members cannot.

that said, adding optimizations can certainly help; however,
removing potential issues can be as important, if not more
important, when improving the bid-strategy or quality.

based on what has been posted, for example, ean (gtin) should not have been
added unless gtin was required for the type of item and the data was valid
and accurate, from the bar-code on the item -- otherwise the data should be
removed since inaccurate global-trade-data can harm quality even more than
not having the data; if the added gtin (ean) was accurate then, also be certain
to verify any mpn or brand data with respect to what is required by google,
for the type of item, and what was assigned by the manufacturer.

for example, be certain to remove anything from the description
that does not relate directly to the physical item or how the
physical item might be used -- any information prohibited by
google's guidelines can harm quality; any auto-generated data
should be reviewed (wordsthatruntogether is one common issue).

check for basic issues with feed management -- such as changing id values.

seller-ratings, merchant-promotions, and
product-ratings, are also quality factors.

check for basic issues with the shopping-campaign --
for example, depleted budgets and scheduling issues.

be certain to use the ad-preview-tool, rather than standard searches --
especially for organic-search ads , searching for similar items repeatedly
can cause very inaccurate results and false-negatives.

of course, having more exact information --
such as the exact data being submitted,
exact search-terms being used, etc, --
usually allows for more exact suggestions.

google's competitive analysis tools can also offer more in-depth assessments.

Re: Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi there Celebird,


I was not aware that when you give the EAN (GTIN) for a product, you should also give the MPN. If this affects the quality of my feed in a negative way, I will delete the EAN's.
We are collecting seller ratings/reviews, we have about 40 of them right now, averaging a 9/10.
A good example of our problem is in the following images:

Google Search

As you can see, we only have a text-ad for this particular "exact" search.

Google Shopping

In Google Shopping we often dominate the first positions. These searches are done in incognito mode by the way.


Kind regards

Re: Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

that was simply an example; global-trade-data is correlated
with the type of item and what the manufacturer has assigned --
the requirements depend on the type of item, but the type of
item being sold was not mentioned in the original posting.

for example, apparel clothing require only a valid brand.

be certain that the gtin (ean) being submitted is for that exact box --
not for the individual, un-boxed, item and not for any other size box;
check the digits under the bar-code, stamped on the package being sold.

there is no need to remove the gtin (ean) --
simply be certain the data is accurate
for the exact item being sold and shipped.

gtin and brand are sufficient for that type of item --
google does not require mpn for any type of item;
simply, any value that is submitted must be valid

and accurate for the exact item being sold.

there is no requirement to submit mpn --
mpn is not required for that type of item.

the results on google-shopping vs organic-search
look to be for very different package (box) sizes --
for example, 12-pieces vs 48-pieces.

smaller, personal, size boxes will likely be
favored within organic-search -- given the
type of item and the broad search-term.

what were the adult settings under incognito-mode?
what does the ad-preview-and-diagnostics tool show?
what do the statistics within the shopping-campaign show?

the bids for such a broad search-term are likely much higher
and require much higher quality (relevance) on organic-search.

try the auction-insights-report and possibly the bid-simulator.

importantly, that website seems to be collecting user
data on unsecured pages, during the checkout-flow;
pages collecting user data must be ssl/https secure --
or is otherwise a policy violation and grounds for
assigning very poor quality to all items over time,
items to be removed from the auctions, disapproval,
or a suspension from the program, at any time.

Re: Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Celebird,

The adult settings were off in incognito mode. Ad preview gives the exact same results.
The statistics in the Shopping campaign say almost full impr. share, small % lost (rank). If these are the stats that you mean?

The bids for my Shopping campaign are actually much higher than for my text ad on that keyword.

Thanks for noticing the checkout, we will take care of this asap.

Could trademarking be the cause? I know 'durex' is a "trademarked" term in AdWords.

Re: Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Dempsey,

Did you ever figure out why this happened? I'm having the same problem on a non-trademarked product.

Thanks in advance

Re: Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆
# 7
Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆

@Dempsey d

I have brought up this exact issue multiple times before with Google and they have never provided an adequate answer. It was only after proving them wrong in front of the entire room at a recent Google Shopping Experts day that they admitted there is a different auction for PLA's on SERPs and there is no way to measure your success there or to affect that auction. It uses a completely different formula that as far as I can tell has no rhyme or reason. 


This is a particular pain point for a men's underwear client of mine who absolutely dominates the Shopping results for the term "sexy mens underwear"; they typically have at a minimum two thirds of the first page of shopping results, sometimes as high as 85%. And yet they will frequently not even show in the SERP PLA's, or only have one PLA shown and at the very end of the carousel/listings. Yet in front of them will be PLA's that don't appear for pages in the shopping tab, and whose homepages don't show up in the first ten pages of SERPs while my client consistently is on page one or two.


So unfortunately there is not really an answer at this point. You can completely dominate the shopping tab, and at best that will get you a spot on the SERPs PLA listings, and even that is not guaranteed. It's not linked to bid or quality score, because otherwise the people ending up in the SERPs PLAs would actually have a presence in the shopping tab or decent organic results. Wish I had a better answer, but this is a case where you can be doing everything right and it still won't move the needle, at least until Google finally addresses it.

Re: Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 8
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Info B,

I'm afraid not. I've had contact with support again since, and no exact reason could be given. It has been the second time that a support employee stated other factors play a role, without saying which factors.

In the meantime improvements to product texts, titles, descriptions and EAN codes did not make any difference.

I have seen a new competitor being shown in PLA's. Which makes me believe backlinks, historic Shopping performance or number of reviews do not play a role here.

Re: Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Spike M,

Thank you for sharing your story.
It kind of feels good to know I'm not the only one with this problem without knowing a reason. Although I would prefer to see us thrive in the PLA's of course.

I was hoping Celebird could provide me with a possible answer, after his first reply. But unfortunately he/she did not answer my reply.

Re: Products in Shopping, but not as PLA in SERP

Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆
# 10
Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆

@Celebird is great at researching and reproducing policy in depth. But this is one of those cases where it hasn't been addressed in documentation. I honestly don't think most of the people on the Google Shopping team are even aware there's a difference in the auctions. Like I said, at the Shopping Experts day in Mountain View a couple months ago when some higher ups in the shopping team were presenting on the shopping auction, they initially denied there was a difference in the auction. They were genuinely surprised when I held up my tablet and showed them exactly what I was talking about. So this is a very hard topic to get any info on.


Our Google Partners rep was supposed to look into this but never came back with an answer. I don't think there is one currently, but it's one Google desperately needs to address now that the right hand rail is gone and PLA's have gotten a new prominence in SERPs, especially on mobile. I have frequently seen products that are blatantly against policy stay in the SERPs PLA's for months, despite my reporting them a half dozen times. I almost feel like it is a completely random selection up there. What they really need to do is do a genuine update and overhaul of Merchant Center for the first time ever as well as AdWords and allow us to see PLA ad rank/placement and allow us to see separate metrics for the shopping tab vs SERPs.


In the meantime, if you're a google partner I'd suggest bugging your rep about this until they can get you some kind of answer. In the mean time, just optimize the crap out of your product feed. It doesn't do much for SERPs but it seems to move the needle a small amount. It would be great if one of the experts here could grill the shopping team on this and get at least some guidelines as to how the SERPs PLA auction works. I'm tired of seeing products that are poorly optimized, showing full on nudity, with less sales, worse SEO for the search term, and a poor shopping presence, consistently beating out my clients PLA's in SERPs.