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3Q exclusive: super-effective PLA hack to boost high-ROI impressions

Published: April 12, 2016

Author: Joseph Hall

In PLAs, there are two main ways to drive up impressions: you can increase your bids or improve your feed. (I bet you can guess which option is more cost-effective.) In a recent project for a client’s PLA campaigns, we explored ways to improve the feed and found a solution that produced results beyond the client’s wildest expectations.

The challenge

Our challenge was increasing PLA impressions in the Art category, which is a highly competitive auction and diverse product list (and also a key growth category for the client). We were running under strict ROAS goals that limited bid increases as an option, so we had to get creative.
Our account was already using the standard bid modifiers to improve efficiency; we had also followed the usual optimization best practices of scrubbing and promoting specific products. Even with those changes, our year-over-year growth wasn’t anywhere near the client’s goals.

The solution

This led us to focusing on how to improve our query mapping. Unlike with Text ads, you can’t just force your PLAs to specific keywords.

  1. Conduct keyword research against the entire category, using:
    1. SEMRush
    2. Spyfu
    3. Google’s Keyword Planner
    4. Winning keywords from your Text campaigns
  2. Identify the keywords your PLA campaigns are already matching to by using search query reports from your PLAs.
  3. Dedupe the list of terms you’re already matching; the keywords you’re failing to get impressions for should be what’s left.
  4. Use your judgment to identify which keywords/products could be relevant. Some tips:
    1. You should only apply them if you believe that product will be bought, otherwise you’re wasting effort and money.
    2. Don’t constrain yourself to one product per keyword; you could still win 7 more placements.
    3. Consider focusing on terms that account for the highest traffic.
    4. If you can match to the high-volume terms, you’ll stand a better chance at capturing many long-tail terms associated with them. For example, if you optimize for Wall Art, you could capture a term like [City] + Wall Art : “San Francisco Wall Art”.
  5. Update your feed with those matches; insert new matches or replace existing phrases within the Title, Description or both. Note: take caution to ensure you don’t cause a well matched SKU to lose its quality rank for a successful term simply to chase another phrase with equal value.


The results

The methodology above helped us take this account from barely achieving YoY growth to hitting over 160% growth (thanks to a huge impressions increase) while decreasing CPAs by 11%.
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