“PLAs represent Google’s effort to reduce the clutter in the Shopping experience. By charging for clicks, companies need to have a strategy surrounding product submission, feed optimization, and bid management. There’s no point in getting hung up on the cost of PLAs. It is what it is. We should be grateful we got all those free clicks for so many years,” says Barney. (source: SearchEngineLand.com)
The amount of “real estate” now taken up by Google Adwords listings and now the expanded PLA layout has pushed most of the organic search results beyond the first 2 or 3 below the fold, and any result below #8 is now pushed to page 2. This not only raises the stakes for a paid result to now have to stand out more forcefully from its additional competition, it puts even greater pressure on the SEO work that is incorporated into the site content, meta-data, url structure and the back-links associated with trying to draw traffic.
And that’s not to say that the paid PLA algorithm doesn’t have its flaws. Google seemingly has put more emphasis on product relevance to keywords (a good thing), but in executing some exact match keywords, there can still be some incorrect and confusing listings provided. Also often the photos and the merchandising is still not perfected – the shopper may still need to pour over many confusingly similar listings before finding exactly what they were looking for.
On the other hand, the fact that the old Google Shopping – one of the great free sources of traffic – is now charging on a CPC basis, this will drive many merchants who can’t afford the marginal cost out of the market (it can add up to 50% to a search budget), and the remaining players will find less competition for their ads. This approach, plus some eventual improvements in product images, will have impact on the overall success of the program, and it should set up a new marketing battleground in the PPC channel.