As product listing ads continue to resonate with consumers and drive clicks for advertisers, Google has experimented with showing more of them on the page over the years. As we head into Holiday Season 2016, Google is continuing to ratchet up the count and is showing PLAs in cards rather than single ad packs.
On some queries now, Google shows as many as 15 product listing ads (PLAs) on phones and tablets and up to 18 PLAs on desktop, thanks to the scrolling slider of ads. The slider won out over a test early this year that showed up to 16 PLAs when a user clicked to expand the block of ads and rolled out to desktop earlier this fall. CPC Strategy began noticing a new slider treatment being tested and more ads showing in the right-hand column on desktop this week.
This screen shot that CPC Strategy provided shows the new slider treatment.
Comparing to the current example below, notice the ads themselves are bigger and shown in individual cards. Google made PLAs on mobile bigger over a year ago, so this is one more example of ad units parity across devices.
Because the ads are larger, there are five ads displayed at one time instead of six with this card treatment, but the full slider can fit as many as 15 ads. There is also the “More on Google” link below the slider that gives users one more way to get to the Shopping results.
Additionally, when PLAs are shown at the top of the page, Google rarely if ever shows any text ads at the top anymore. The combination of text ads and PLAs on the page appears to only happen when PLAs are shown in the right column, and even then, text ads often don’t appear at the top of the page.
More PLAs in the right rail
When PLAs aren’t featured in a scrolling carousel at the top of the page, Google is showing more ads in the ad packs on the right-hand side. Google has been playing around with this for some time now, but here are some recent examples of how Google is using that right-hand real estate now that text ads are no longer there (The following were also provided by CPC Strategy). Again, notice the ads are served as individual cards rather than one monolithic pack.
Here is an example with nine ads filling the entire right column above the fold. The “More on Google” link appears here, too.
One thing I have yet to see in the wild are the formats — showcase shopping ads and shop the look ads — that Google began testing this summer, both aimed to capitalize on broad queries like “holiday dresses” and “cocktail attire.”
Google has rolled out more shopping ads on YouTube, with a carousel showing below relevant videos.
Merkle said its large retail clients saw PLAs drive for 48 percent of all Google search ad clicks and 73 percent of non-brand clicks in the third quarter of 2016.