Lots of crazy stuff has happened in PPC during 2012.  Even though that’s been true pretty much every year since its launch, we at PPC Hero felt that it was a big enough year to justify its very own series.  That’s why for this month’s series we’re taking on the Biggest Thing in My PPC Year.  Whether it’s tools, product releases or changes to our way of thinking, we’ll be covering the biggest thing that’s changed our work lives/brains this year.

As someone with several eCommerce clients, I can say the biggest thing that’s changed for me this year is Product Listing Ads. So far for December, they’ve brought in 21% of one of my client’s revenue. That’s 21% they didn’t have last December. That’s HUGE. I see similar performance for my other accounts, too. They’re huge, and they’re great if you optimize them correctly. And I have to admit; this has been my biggest learning opportunity this year, too. It was pretty easy to just throw some product extensions up and poke at them every now and then, before. But so much has changed and so many more people are getting competitive with Product Listing Ads now, that you really have to focus on learning the ins and outs. So, let me share some of the stuff I’ve learned!

1.)           Optimizing data feeds

The big thing about PLA’s that really threw me for a loop at first was the lack of optimizing. You mean I don’t get to pick keywords or write text ads? WHAT?! But never fear, there is a ton of optimizing that can happen with these guys, it’s just a little special. Special because it happens directly in the data feed!

The biggest thing to optimize for, as I was told by the fine AdWords folks, is the product title. This is what Google matches searches to. You want something straight-forward that aptly describes your product. Do some competitive research and see what others are using, too!

Secondly, you want to make sure your product categories are spot on. You can segment and bid differently based on these, so that’s important!

2.)           Bugs that Google still needs to work out

So, news flash, Google isn’t perfect. There’s still some stuff to work out with PLA’s. Like what’s going on in all of the eComm accounts my colleagues and I have checked right now:


An avg. position of 0 but still getting a good CTR and sales?

Yeah, I have no idea. Neither did the AdWords help line. HUGE surprise there.

Also, I’ve been having a hard time getting some of my clients to show up in the comparison pages even when they have a super high bid, a huge budget, accelerated spend, and the EXACT title the comparison page is using. Again, AdWords help was NO help. They just told me to keep optimizing the title. It makes me feel like I’m mayor of crazy town in the republic of crazy.

My best advice for this is keep nagging AdWords help, keep nagging your agency or account reps, and keep putting it out into the world in blogs and #ppcchat. They’ll take notice eventually and come up with some answers. Right? Right guys?

3.)           Segmenting strategies

I’ve been reading about some pretty interesting segmentation strategy with PLA’s. Like, Joey Muller of PPC Associates talks in his blog that they use the AdWords editor to upload bids by SKU. I haven’t used this, but it sounds awesome if it gets good results. You can also segment and bid by brand, which is cool. I think the general notion is to do it by whatever influences performance most for your products. But AdWords recommends keeping an “all products” ad group, which is a good thing to do if you think you might have missed something. But, with SKU bidding, I doubt you’re missing anything!

So, like I said, these are still an object of much learning and frustration for me, but the money they make really kind of makes up for that. What do you guys think? What are you doing with these that are cool? What frustrations do you have?