In November of 2009, Google started testing a new ad format called Google Product Lising Ads. I will refer to the ad format as Product Listing Ads or just Product Listings. While Product Listings was announced on the Google AdWords blog and is called a new feature of Adwords in this Google Ad Innovations video, it’s easier to consider this a Google Affiliate Network product as the merchant pays on a Cost Per Acquisition/Action (CPA) basis.
Regardless of which unit within Google owns this product at this point, here are the important details:
•Google Product Listing Ads work on CPA basis
•Google decides when to show, what to show, etc.
Here’s what is going on. Google has been cleaning up affiliate AdWords ads for a long time, cutting down on the riff-raff in the affiliate space that arguably doesn’t add a lot of value and imposing restrictions on affiliates who have the same top level domain as other advertisers
. However, Google knows that affiliate listings can be extremely valuable. And with Product Listings, Google is becoming the affiliate of the merchant (the publisher, in affiliate speak) and displaying advertiser listing when and where it wants.
Google has the infrastrucutre to charge on a CPA basis (because of the Google Affiliate Network) and it has the data from the merchant (because of the Google Merchant Center data feed – yes, another example of the power of the data feed!) to display whatever types of listings can drive the most value.