Google Nov. 11 launched Product Listing Ads from beta to help U.S. businesses promote their products with richer information alongside relevant search results.
Introduced in beta one year ago, Product Listing Ads include product information in the ad, including pictures of the product, price and the name of the seller.
The idea is to let users see and learn as much as they can about the products offered before they reach the merchant's Website, which leads to more clicks, better leads and greater returns for search ads, according to AdWords team member Dan Friedman.
The beta period proved fruitful. Google said advertisers listed hundreds of millions of products, with people twice as likely to click on Product Listing Ad than standard text ads in the same location.
While the bulk of Google's advertising has been predicated on keywords and ad text, Product Listing Ads are triggered whenever a user's search matches an item in the advertiser's account. Ideally, this increases the relevance of ads for sellers' entire product inventory.
Also, while AdWords advertisers get charged for traditional search ads when a user clicks on them, advertisers can pay only if the person buys the product promoted in a Product Listing Ad.
Product Listing Ads are just the latest ad innovation Google has launched from beta as the company seeks to expand beyond its traditional keyword search-driven text ads.
While these ads are responsible for some $20 billion-plus of the search engine's revenue each year, growth has slowed. The company is facing pressure from investors and calls from financial analysts to expand its ad revenue streams.
This is why Google's announcement last month that its display and mobile ads were accruing at $2.5 billion and $1 billion run-rates, respectively, was such a big deal.
Still, ads tied to Google's desktop search remain the company's bread and butter. Finding new ways to render ads on the desktop will benefit advertisers, consumers and, of course, Google.