Google is Testing Expandable View PLA Ads

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Google is known for running tests from time to time and most recently a crafty eyed ecommerce solution provider noticed a new expandable product listing ad (PLA) display box. Have you spotted it?

Expandable PLAs? What Are We on About?

Run a quick search in Google and you’ll likely see PLAs appear at the top of your search results. However, if you’re one of the lucky few, you may notice a small arrow in the bottom right corner of the display box. Click on it and the regular 5 product window will display to show 16 results that fill the entire width of the page.

The new test was spotted by ChannelAdvisor on January 18th. Sadly we cannot see the test ourselves, however we are already considering the impact it may have on our clients’ sites should this change be rolled out.

What Do Expandable Product Listing Ads Mean for Your Business?

Expandable PLAs may sound like a good idea from a user experience point of view, but from a digital marketer’s angle they could be troublesome. Mainly because, as the PLA expands, other ads and organic search results are pushed further down the page.

This is essentially the same as people ‘saving spaces’ for friends in a queue and when they arrive, you can’t do anything about it. Frustrating, right?!

So, there’ll be more competition and click-through rates will likely go down slightly for some advertisers. On the other hand the added space could mark a huge opportunity for businesses to get seen.

Why is This Happening?

Currently, there is no guarantee that this expansion will be rolled out worldwide; it is just being tested. However, PLAs have been extremely successful for Google, so it’s not surprising that it is looking to get more out of them. In fact, a study by ad management service Marin Software showed that these paid ads saw its portion of overall search ad clicks more than triple in 2015 to 6%, since its wide stream release in October.

Should We Be Producing PLAs?

Let’s not count our chickens before they’re hatched and start rushing to make PLAs. This display change may not happen. However, it is important to bear in mind that it may be implemented and to be ready, if it is.

PLAs can be a successful way of getting your products seen. In a report from Merkle RKG, it was reported PLAs accounted for 60% of non-brand ad clicks for US ecommerce advertisers. Click-through rates were 90% higher than text ads and ad spend on PLAs increased by nearly 40% across Google and Bing in the months analysed.

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

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