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Google Sees Success with Product Listing Ads

Mobile-optimized PLAs drive click share to nearly one-quarter

February 7, 2014

Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs)—enhanced search ads that include features such as price and image—saw steep growth in Q4 2013. According to data released in January 2014 by The Search Agency, total spending on such ads rose 71% quarter over quarter and 164.8% year over year in the last quarter of 2013, pushing its overall portion of Google’s spend share to 0.28%.

PLAs also saw huge increases in impressions and clicks. The former grew 82.9% year over year and 63.4% quarter over quarter. Clicks in Q4 2013 nearly doubled compared with the same quarter in 2013 and rose 63.4% over Q3 2013. This growth drove Google’s PLA click share up to 0.24%.

Clickthrough rates (CTRs) and cost per click (CPC) were also up year over year, with CTRs reaching 2.00% in Q4 2013. However, CPC was down quarter over quarter, from $1.64 to $1.58, unable to rebound from a huge jump in Q3.

Clickthrough Rate (CTR) and Cost per Click (CPC) of US Product Listing Ads (PLAs), Q4 2012-Q4 2013

The most impressive growth was seen in mobile, which continued to grab click share from desktop. Smartphone clicks in Q4 2013 increased 1,589% over Q4 2012, and those on tablets rose 335.7%. Overall, mobile grew its click share nearly six times year over year, from 4.2% to 24.3%. A main driver of this growth was the release of mobile-optimized PLAs in October 2013.

Click Share of US Product Listing Ads (PLAs), by Device, Q4 2012-Q4 2013 (% of total)

In July 2013, Marin Software reported that advertiser attention to PLAs had waned worldwide since the 2012 holiday season, but expected interest to pick up during the 2013 holidays—likely another driver of Q4 2013 gains. The study also noted that mobile shopping, which also grew in popularity during the holidays, was one of the main reasons for increased clicks.


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