Proof Even Small Businesses Should Be Utilizing Product Listing Ads

After switching from free listings to commercial in October 2012, a lot has been made of Google’s transformation around Google Shopping. Almost a year later, while maybe no concrete winners (besides Google’s bottom line) can be drawn in the sand, we have seen significant opportunities for small businesses within Google’s increasing focus in its shopping channel.

Looking specifically at clients currently enrolled in Portent’s small business PPC package, PPC Essentials, e-commerce clients utilizing PLAs are seeing sizable returns on their ad spend. While the dollar values of those returns will not impress mega-buck enterprise companies looking to spend and earn big, an extra one or two thousand dollars in additional monthly revenue from paid search can make all the difference for small businesses looking to get their feet off the ground in the PPC marketplace.

Pulling from the full list of active PPC Essentials clients utilizing Product Listing Ads, we can see the positive impact low budget advertisers are earning via Google Shopping. Here are a few statistics from our program-wide survey:

Budget Allocation

Budget Allocation Screencap

Average Cost Per Click

Average CPC screencap

Return on Ad Spend

ROAS screencap


  1. If you currently are not up and running with a product feed, no need to go back to your board and pitch for more money. Allocating a small percentage of your current monthly budget can effectively get the ball rolling in the PLA game. Monthly PLA spend in the accounts surveyed ranged from under $10 to just under $800 – regardless of spend level, ROAS was positive.
  2. Dependent on industry, driving a Google Shopping click will cost you less per click than a traditional Search Network click. In fact, within the accounts we surveyed, not a single account posted a higher average PLA CPC than average Search Network CPC.
  3. Product Listing Ads can become a viable piece of your paid search revenue source. Through effectively targeted product feeds and campaign structures in AdWords, SMBs can go up against the giants in their industries and come out in a positive position.

If you are a product-driven business engaged in paid search and don’t have a product listing feed – it’s time to get one. There are plenty of guides to help you get started and with Google’s feed specifics, getting up and running can be simple and straightforward.

Chad Kearns

Vice President of Marketing Services
Vice President of Marketing Services

As the vice president of marketing services, Chad is responsible for leading Portent’s marketing, sales, and services teams. He is dedicated to ensuring clients receive top-notch service and results, and is continually looking for ways to improve and expand Portent's expertise. When not at Portent, you can find Chad hiking, skiing, playing soccer, and spending time with his family.

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  1. It’s also pretty interesting to see the split between visitors from Google Shopping (the CSE) and PLAs (on SERPs). I think it was something like 85% PLAs, which surprised me–I use Google Shopping, so my bias was shown pretty clearly!

  2. I also find PLA is cheaper and tend to convert better.
    However I think your missing one key bit of data, and that’s the ROI for non PLA ads. Normal ads may cost more but it is possible they convert a lot better. You don’t provide that bit of comparison, so we don’t know.
    I’ve heard people say that PLAs can convert poorly as it’s when users are comparison shopping, so they click around.
    For me the hardest thing with PLAs is getting the client to get good and valid feeds going. Ad spend is often limited by that and not their budget.

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