mPLAs: Digitally Untapped

Have you heard? It’s the year of mobile (again)!  So we get it, Mobile is an integral part of your digital strategy and is even more important when it comes to the growth of your Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Our own clients recorded a 90% increase year over year in PLA traffic in 2014, with mobile being responsible for 42% of total traffic growth. Here’s how Mobile Product Listing Ads (mPLAs) can help you now and down the road.

mPLAs Overview

Mobile Product Listing Ads (mPLAs) are a mobile ad format in a scroll based horizontal list. They show at the top of the page and are fantastic real estate, showing above relevant pay-per-click ads. At the initial search, just over two ads are visible, however a total of seven ads become visible as you scroll to the right. (This is the default for iPhones however the number of ads shown depends on the size of your screen and whether you are viewing horizontally or vertically.) Ads include images of the product as well as price, for a convenient way to shop and compare on the go – nifty!

Measuring Success

If your ad isn’t in the first two spots and a consumer does not scroll to the right, your ad still records as an impression within your data. (Let that sink in for a second.) So what does that means in the bigger picture (or at least until Google re-launches their position reporting – date TBD)? Click through rate (CTR) for the visible products shown is 300% higher than for the products shown in the rest of the scroll. So, much like a mobile search ad, if you’re not in the top two positions, you might as not well be on the page (unless someone scrolls). If you are recording impressions but not getting a click consistently for a group of product targets, it could be due to visibility, NOT due to relevancy of your ad as we once all thought. With a lack of impression share data available and currently no visibility into ad position, this news makes smart optimizations a bit trickier.

Getting Started

First, assess which product groups are outperforming in Mobile and identify low mobile CTRs to isolate areas for focused testing. Second, test. Increase your mobile bid modifiers where you are seeing strong to mid performance for mPLAs. Measure the impact on CTR and if you see a significant increase (2-3X) you can assume you’ve reached the first or second ad spot. If performance is strong and you are not seeing an increased CTR, you can assume you were already in top positions. Then, start playing with bid decreases to find your sweet spot to ensure the most efficient cost per click (CPC).

Don’t forget about the actual feed! As you need to increase bids for better positioning of your ad, this is a great time to re-evaluate your feed content. By doing so, you could potentially mitigate the increase in CPCs to allow for the testing outlined above. The lowest hanging fruit currently available is inclusion of mobile URLs in the feed. Google adjusted its feed specification last year to allow this additional piece of data and help them serve the mobile version of your site to mobile consumers.

 The Future of mPLAs

In the future, your bids and an optimized feed will become even more important for Mobile. With Google already adding the ability to send the mobile URL within the feed, we at iProspect see this as just the start of more mobile-related attributes, such as a mobile-friendly titles, mobile prices or mobile-only promotions.  

Also, with Google’s Local Inventory Ads (LIA) currently in place, our magic ball is telling us that we will see a future fusion of data where bids can be more strategic on mobile through integrating LIA location inventory information with mobile location based bid modifiers.

Colleen Friess, Structured Data & Feeds Leader, contributed to this post.