Google product listing ad (PLA) share, as a percent of total search clicks, rose 210% in 2012, according to Marin Software, but the real insight will come through a deeper understanding of intent from the clicks.
The percent of PLA impressions vs. text ads rose 60%, leading advertisers to increase their share of search budgets directed toward the image ads by nearly 600% in Q4. Google transitioned Google Shopping from a free to paid model in October.
The transition to a paid from a free service made advertisers pay more attention to clicks and what they pay, according to Marin SVP Matt Lawson.
Consumers clicking on image ads reveal much more information about themselves than those clicking on text ads. Intent and interest in specific products or brands become clearer. For example, image ads support long-tail marketing strategies because they are specific to a product or services. Text-based ads are typically more generic and based on quality, price, and selection, Lawson said. "Both try to capture a slightly different intent," he said.
Marketers could collect the data from PLA clicks to build specific audience segments for retargeting. It's not clear whether Google uses the PLA click data to get smarter about ads it serves cross-device: desktop, tablets and smartphones.
Similarly, Rimm-Kafmann's Group's Q4 2012 report notes that PLAs generated 28% of Google non-brand clicks for the quarter. PLA cost per clicks came in at 26% lower than CPCs for competitive text ads. The research shows a larger-than-average gap between bids and CPCs paid for PLAs, suggesting light competition for the new format during the quarter.
Marin drives $4 billion in annual ad spend through its tech platform. The company claims to manage about $1 in every $10 spent on Google AdWords.