PMG Digital Made for Humans

Images Versus Text :: Right Brain Versus Left Brain

2 MINUTE READ | June 28, 2017

Images Versus Text :: Right Brain Versus Left Brain

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Meredith Kenyon

Meredith Kenyon has written this article. More details coming soon.

Since launching in 2012, Product Listing Ads (PLAs) have given marketers another way of reaching consumers within the paid search space outside of pure text paid search. With their visually appealing real-estate & ability to dynamically serve products relevant to the customer’s queries, PLAs are one of the first places marketers look to invest in to not only reach existing customers but to find new ones as well.

But just how effective are PLAs at capturing new customers? How does this compare to traditional non-brand search? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each tactic and how should marketers use them when budget is an issue? Our team designed a test to answer these exact questions and the findings are more surprising than you think.

The Test:

We selected three high-volume driving non-brand PLA categories and created mirror non-brand paid search campaigns comprised of all of the queries that matched to the PLA campaigns over the last 30 days. This helped to ensure (as much as possible) that we were bidding on the same queries in each separate campaign.

Once the campaigns were set-up and activated, we managed them as we would any other campaign, optimizing against CPC, CTR, impression-share, as well as ROI (a key metric for our clients), letting them run for a full three weeks to ensure the campaigns gained enough historical data to be significant.

The Results:

While PLAs outperformed non-brand search across the majority of the key metrics the test was judged on (-13% CPC, +30% CTR & +76% ROI), non-brand search saw a higher new visitor rate and more volume and scale, allowing us to introduce more new customers to the brand.

Key Takeaways:

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In our analysis of baseline performance metrics (CPC, CTR, ROI), PLAs outperformed traditional non-brand search. But let’s not write the story just yet. Most performance marketers often look too closely at these metrics and move on without fully analyzing the value of a customer. New customers (or more importantly, lifetime value) and reach are often overlooked but could be better barometers of success. In short, there is still plenty of room in the search world for both PLAs and traditional paid search.