How To Use Product Listing Ads To Promote Services In 2014

Product listing ads (PLAs) have a higher potential to brand products and services compared with text-based ads because they include an image along with the text. Marketers supported by Rimm-Kaufman Group clients spent about 85% more in Q4 2013, compared with the prior year, per a J.P. Morgan research note.

J.P. Morgan Analyst Doug Anmuth tells us that although PLA pricing continues to rise, it remains very attractive to retailers compared with paid search, given the higher click-through rates and return on investment. As a guest on a J.P. Morgan call with investors, a Performics executive said marketers spent 30% more on PLAs in Q3, compared with the year-ago quarter.

Marketers need to remove their blinders and begin thinking about using PLAs for services. Images give customers a good idea why they should buy one product, rather than another. The text-based ad will soon disappear, making way for a hybrid model that combines images and text with real-time updates on inventory status.

In a recent report titled "Understand Operational Nuances To Achieve Success With Google Product Listing Ads," Forrester Research Analyst Shar VanBoskirk describes how retailers continue to shift an average of 6% of their interactive marketing budget to PLAs. Pointing to July 2013, the volume of PLA impressions grew 13%, compared with standard text-based search ad impressions.

While VanBoskirk tells us about a variety of retail brands using PLAs, such as Walmart, eBay, Apple App Store, Etsy, B&H Photo and Electronics and, what about services such as dentists, optometrists, and home or dry cleaning businesses? 

Aside from recent findings from Kenshoo on the performance of PLAs, in the study VanBoskirk points to research from Marin Software, click-through rates (CTRs) for PLAs have tracked higher than standard text ads since November 2012. "The same study reported that performance reached record levels in July 2013 when PLAs had a 22% higher CTR than standard text-based ads."

Dear Google and Bing, add a category for "services." The search engines and marketers are missing an opportunity.




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