Google Shopping and product listing ads (PLAs) will play a major role during the gift-giving season, as more consumers research and buy online. comScore released Q3 2012 U.S. retail e-commerce sales Wednesday estimating that consumers spent $41.9 billion online, up 15% compared with the year-ago quarter.
BabyEarth plans to take advantage of the rise with help from PLAs. The company has seen impressive year-on-year growth, about 193% in August 2012 and 202% in September 2012.
Aside from providing eco-friendly tips to care for baby and mother, BabyEarth began using PLAs in August 2011 to drive search traffic to its Web site.
The images drive eyeballs to the page, said Steve Steinberg, CMO at BabyEarth, which makes them different from typical paid-search ads. Although Google Shopping PLAs have been around for a couple of years, several changes to the ad model during the past 12 months led to BabyEarth's 129% rise in average monthly revenue.
For starters, Google moved the ads from the right rail to the center of the page; and created a paid ad model, which requires retailers to optimize the ads in a completely different way.
Steinberg continues to allocate a higher percentage of the company's monthly search budget to PLA vs. paid-search ads. PLAs get between 40% and 50% of the company's monthly budget and have risen steadily for the past year, he said, stressing that optimization matters. So he gets help from Adlucent.
"The actual keyword you're trying to target comes from the product title and description, so it's important to optimize those two fields to make sure the products serve up in the search results," Steinberg said
Bing offers a similar platform, but it's free. "The free lets companies submit correct or incorrect data, so retailers and brands display anything they possibly can," he said. "I imagine if Google proves success with its paid shopping platform Bing will follow."
The paid ads "knock out some of the competition," Steinberg said. Some companies using Google Shopping ads really didn't have products to sell because they acted as affiliate pass-through Web sites trying to earn commissions by leading consumers from the Web to a specific retail or brand site.
But a new Google affiliate program could help marketers work with PLAs and Google Shopping.