Google Display Test Showing 16 Product Listing Ads

Looking to capitalise on their prime ad real estate with increased product listing ads (PLAs), Google has been testing out an expanded view of PLAs, upping the number of ads shown from the typical five block segment to 16. ChannelAdvisor was the first to spot and report on the changes. With the success of product listing ads, it looks as though Google has added an arrow icon in the lower right corner of the block of ads that appear at the top of the results after a search. Before expanding, the PLAs appear as they usually do. Clicking on the arrow, however, expands and maximises the layout, stretching it to the right to reveal an additional eleven ads across the width of the desktop page. This effectively pushes standard results, organic listings and paid text ads down the page when opened. This is different from any format Google has tested in the past, namely, an expanded view that expands over top of the search results rather than pushing them down the page altogether. Though testing this new format worked for the staff at ChannelAdvisor when making a regular Google search, we were unable to replicate the new layout test when entering the same in the search field. Using Google for mobile also hasn’t turned up the same style of PLA results. It has yet to be seen whether Google officially moves ahead with this product listing ad expansion or whether they’re simply testing new formats for now. It does, however, look as though Google will be trying to get as much out of this successful style of advertising as possible. Though click-through rates may initially drop for individual advertisers with the extra ads being displayed, this prime location could potentially increase the overall click volume on these ads. As you may have expected, Google continues to play with the product listing ads on both desktop and mobile, as seen with brand products cards, carousels, as well as their expansion to Google-owned YouTube. In their Q3 Digital Marketing Report, Merkle RKG reported that PLAs had 60 percent click share of non-branded queries across its U.S. e-commerce advertisers. This far and away outpaced text ads with a 90 percent higher click-through rate. Ad spend on product listing ads/product ads through Google and Bing increased 39 percent across all devices, while Google AdWords and Bing Shopping Campaign ad clicks rose 47 percent. For Merkle RKG’s e-commerce advertisers, those numbers compare to just a nine percent growth and one percent click growth for text ads.


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