Today, Google is making public what several speakers at SMX East alluded to last week: local availability for Product Listing Ads. The latest iteration of Google’s wildly successful Product Listing Ads, which will be referred to simply “Local PLAs” in this article, are currently available to a select set of US based retailers such as REI and Sephora.
When users click on a Local PLA, they are taken to a local storefront — yet another new feature — which includes product detail and availability, related items available in that location, store hours and directions and other typical Google Places for business functionality.
Local PLAs can display on both smartphone and desktop/tablet devices. For now, it seems easier to spot Local PLAs via smartphone, but here’s a look at a Local PLA and local storefront for REI on a laptop:
Both local PLAs and local storefronts are powered by a local product feed uploaded to Google Merchant Center. The local feed reflects the product availability and other details for each of a retailer’s physical locations. Merchants can have both online and local product feeds. Because of that, depending on the query, offers from both feeds can serve at the same time.
So, will Local PLAs compete with Online PLAs? It depends. Google says currently on desktop, Local PLAs are served as annotations on online offers, so there isn’t direct competition between the two. On smartphones, however, there is competition as local offers may be served in a given position instead of the online offer. Advertisers can use the proximity bidding feature in AdWords to improve the position of local offers when a user is near their store. A Google spokesperson also notes that quality score is a significant component of ad position in Local PLAs just as any other AdWords ad.
As with regular online PLAs, clicks from local PLAs to the local storefront are charged on a cost-per-click basis. All actions, including calls, made from the local storefront are free. Google will provide click performance reporting by location.
US-based merchants can fill out the form here to express interest in the program when it opens further. It’s not clear how widely accessible Local PLAs will be to merchants ahead of the holiday season. Google simply says the features will be “more widely available in the coming months”. In preparation, here’s a link to the feed requirements for participation in local shopping.