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Online Shopping Goes Local with Google PLAs

Google’s Product Listing Ads (or PLAs) Makes Online Shopping Local

Google’s rolling out 2 new features with PLAs – Local product availability and storefronts

Online shopping has been an undeniable trend that retailers are no longer ignoring, but with huge global sites dominating the web it’s been harder for smaller retailers to compete – until now… Google’s announced 2 new PLA features: local availability of products and local storefronts. So what does this mean?

Product Listing Ads, or PLAs for short, made their way into Australian search in April of 2012. Using a Google Merchant Account individual products with pictures, would appear under normal Google ads. The benefits of PLAs of course was e-commerce were able to show what their product looked like and linking between Google Merchant Accounts and Adwords meant that text ads and PLAs could appear at the same time. However, the focus was global so smaller and more local e-commerce sites struggled (and paid a lot) to have their ads show.

Googles Product Listing Ads PLAs

Google has recognised that “sometimes the most helpful information about a product is whether you can find it at a local store nearby”. So in keeping with this Google is rolling out this local availability and storefront features to their search. This is limited to the US for now, however we expect to see a rollout to Australia in the future.

How does local availability and storefronts work?

When users search for a product (perhaps for ‘baby strollers’) Google’s PLAs are global; there is no way to tell if a store is close to you or not. With Google’s new feature it will list products that are located near you and then if you click on the PLA it will take you to their local storefront.

The local storefront is like a mini online store crossed with Google Maps. It has contact information, your store location and will bring up some of your store inventory which allows users to browse other products before purchasing online or coming in. This caters to anyone that wants to try something on, test something out as well as those that just want to buy something online and have it delivered quickly (knowing that it is being delivered from somewhere nearby rather than overseas).

How will it affect Google advertising PPC prices?

Merchants have always paid for PLAs, much like Adwords it’s on a bid and Pay Per Click basis. Adwords PPC costs will remain the same (these new features are only to PLAs) and it’s unlikely that PLA costs will dramatically increase, but you’ll now be paying for more qualified and interested local traffic. Google has said that all storefront interaction is free (thanks Google) – you’ve already paid for the user to go to your storefront through the Product Listing Ad so it would be an unpopular choice for Google to charge you again.

At roi.com.au we’re excited to see this new local focus, which gives smaller businesses a fairer go against big name global e-commerce sites. Even though it’s only being rolled out in the US for now we can’t wait for it to be rolled out in Australia too.