Is Google Expanding the Layout of PLAs?

January 18, 2016

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

It looks like Google is doubling down on the success of product listing ads (PLAs) by expanding their display size.

And a bigger display size means… more PLAs.

Last week, one of our savvy team members noticed a new PLA display that nearly takes over the whole search results page. Of course, we’ve seen Google experiment with different layouts in the past. But this is a bit different.


Most Google PLAs are shown in “containers” of five to eight products. Typically, containers of five PLAs are shown above the paid results and containers of eight PLAs are shown in the right rail. So for any given query, five to eight products garner an impression.

Like this:


The New Iteration

We’ve seen cases where Google has tested formats that expand on top of the search results. This latest test, however, expands and pushes essentially the entire page down, increasing the number of product ads presented from five to 16.

In the pre-expanded view below, notice the arrow in the bottom right corner of the fifth PLA:


Clicking that arrow expands the ad unit and pushes other page content (paid text ads, organic listings) down the page.


The increased popularity of PLAs in recent years has had a big impact on both text ads and Google’s search/organic landscape. Time will tell if this new format catches on and Google moves ahead with it. This could just be a limited test and nothing more. But if the new layout becomes commonplace, CTRs could be affected, since each ad in a unit is now competing with as many as 15 other products.

If you had any doubts about how much Google values its PLA program, look no further than this tiny arrow you may start seeing on PLA containers.

We’ll keep a close eye on this development and report what we find. Let us know what else you see out there.

For more information about PLAs and the strategies you should be focusing on, download 13 Questions to Ask Your Agency About Google’s Shopping Campaigns.