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July 9, 2013

Why Have My PLAs Stopped Running?

One Quick-fix & One Run-Around

By Rachel Anderson

PLAs, or Product Listing Ads, are those pictured products with prices that show up at the top of right of search results. They grab a whole lot of attention and have proved, not surprisingly, more effective than plain text ads. Makes sense that a photo of the thing someone’s looking to buy would be clicked over words about it- much easier to look at a photo than read an ad.

There are a lot of reasons PLAs might be a great option for your business, save time setting up pay-per-click advertising, potentially higher sales, etc. On the other hand, if you’ve ever run PLAs you might have run into some of the problems I have and been ready to forget the whole thing. Maybe your PLAs stopped running and you can’t figure out why? Don’t get me wrong; I love PLAs! There are just a few things you should be aware of when managing them.

Here are 2 reasons my PLAs have stopped running in the past and how to fix them:


1. Update Data Feeds Every 30 Days

Google Shopping and Merchant Center require data feeds to be refreshed at least once every 30 days. This ensures products are current and information is correct. When data feeds aren’t updated, PLAs stop running.

When I ran my first PLA campaign I was confused when they stopped since I hadn’t changed a thing since setting them up. That proved to be the very issue! Merchant Center leaves a little notice asking for the data feed to be re-uploaded. However, it is not in a very prominent place, is not highlighted, etc. and I, for one, missed it! So if you’re confused about why PLAs have mysteriously stopped, this could be the culprit.

You can go in every 30 days and upload the feed manually or you can set up automatic uploads. Some businesses have changes that effect their data feeds daily and even multiple times a day. If you are in this position, look into implementing automatic data feed uploads.


2. Read the Fine Print

Google has a lot of rules about what you can and cannot sell if you want to use their advertising platform. But did you know they extend these rules to what you can and can’t sell on your website? I didn’t! Seems a little far-fetched that Google could make you remove products totally from your business or set up a separate website for certain products just because they don’t approve of them. But, believe it or not, after talking to 7+ Google representatives it seems to be the case.

In my particular situation, I was setting up PLAs for a client of mine who happened to sell camping tools and knives. The data feed was disapproved for “weapons”. I contacted Google about it because doing a simple Google search for “camping knife” will bring up a bunch of PLAs not to mention text ads! Regardless of searches I’d done or the fact that obviously other businesses were running ads on “weapons”, my data feed was disapproved…

My battle isn’t quite done with Google on this one and we are still in communication over it. The situation here may not be resolved, but the solution is to get in touch with Google when your feed is disapproved for reasons you don’t understand. Even if it turns out to be a simple explanation of something you didn’t realize, get the Google reps to explain it to you- it’s their job! And it’s your job to make your business as successful as possible so get in there and get some answers.

Do you have any suggestions for when PLAs stop running? Share your experience and advice below.


Rachel Anderson is a Pay Per Click Advertising Strategist at Netmark.com. Off the job she enjoys photography, good food, being outside, and spending time with her husband. Share your thoughts with Rachel on Twitter @gladygirl, Google+ or Facebook- she’d love to hear from you!