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Google’s Shopping Campaign Expansion To Search Partners Is Gaining Traction

Google’s product listing ads are gaining traction beyond the search results on YouTube and third-party retail sites, according to new data from Merkle.

You might recall that in September 2014, Google announced it had partnered with a number of retail and e-commerce sites to begin showing product listing ads (PLAs) on the third-party retailer sites in a new program called AdSense for Shopping. The idea was similar to Amazon Product Ads which, until last fall, allowed retailers promote their goods on Amazon with ads that linked to the retailers’ sites.

After some initial fanfare, though, it was unclear much was really happening with AdSense for Shopping. Merkle’s most recent Digital Marketing Report points to the program having picked up steam beginning in August 2015, “when Google began showing ads through new partners, including, it appears, Kohl’s and Target.”

Another factor contributing to the rise in product listing ad visibility in Search Partners is the rollout of Shopping Ads on YouTube. By opting in to Search Partners, Shopping Campaigns are eligible to show in cards alongside contextually relevant videos on desktop and tablets and on smartphones.

Merkle also spotted that Google has begun showing PLAs in image search, though this is still quite limited. PLAs in image search, YouTube and third-party retail sites are all counted as part of the Search Partners network in AdWords reporting.

The share of traffic from PLAs on Search Partners shot up across all devices in August, but the surge was most pronounced on tablets and smartphones. As of December, 12 percent of tablet PLA clicks came from Search Partners, up from just 2.7 percent in January 2015. On smartphones, Search Partner share of PLA clicks rose from 0.2 percent in January to 7.1 percent in December.


On phones, the average conversion rate from PLA search partner traffic was 48 percent lower than on web search results on Search partner PLA clicks had 35 percent and 33 percent lower conversion rates on desktop and tablets, respectively.

Across all devices, PLAs overall accounted for 38 percent of retailers’ Google search ad clicks in Q4, up from 30 percent a year earlier. PLA spend on mobile increased by 208 percent year over year, due in large part to the introduction of bigger PLA formats on smartphones.