Google Search Partners, Analysis of Traffic for Google Shopping

By Tinuiti Team

Google Search Partners: Google Shopping Traffic

Last year, Google provided advertisers with an option to enable their PLAs to show on site search results pages across the search partners network.

Search Partners are sites in the Search Network that partner with Google to show ads. Search partners extend the reach of Search ads to hundreds of non-Google websites, as well as Google Images, YouTube, and other Google sites.

With search partners,  ads can appear on search results pages, on site directory pages, or on other pages related to a person’s search.

With Shopping campaigns, Product Listing Ads can appear on search partner sites that display and link to products for sale.

josh“This was actually not a new program so to speak, but an expansion of an older one,” Josh Brisco, Senior Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy said.

“Campaigns have always been opted into the search partners network, and we have seen some decent, while very limited, performance there.”

“A few advertisers already had the ability to display these PLAs, but the main takeaway from this announcement was that on the Google AdSense side of things, many more advertisers than before were able to show PLAs on their sites.”

Google Search Partners Traffic Results

We decided to take a closer look at the data collected over a 12 month period (from January 2015 to January 2016) (from AdWords) for approximately 50 different client Google Shopping campaigns to see if (and how much more) traffic and production was actually generated from the search partners network.

roman-fitchAccording to Roman Fitch, Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy, “It looks like we’re seeing more traffic from Search partners on Google Shopping starting in Q3, particularly from mobile and tablet devices.”

Below we reveal additional takeaways from this data including Clicks vs. CPCs and Impressions vs. Click-through rate across desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

Clicks vs. CPCs

Desktop Data:


Tablet Data:


Mobile Data:

Pro-Tip: Generally mobile converts at a lower rate with less competitors, so we down bid to save cost and improve ROI.




Impressions vs. CTR

“As you can see in the data, it looks like CTR is pretty strong still on mobile and tablet devices despite the spike in impressions. This indicates that the PLAs are still pretty relevant to users on the search partner sites they’re being shown, or PLAs are getting prime placements on those partner sites on mobile/tablets,” Fitch said.

Desktop Data:


Tablet Data:


Mobile Data:



Final takeaways

The increase in traffic at lower CPCs is great, but what’s the ROI like? Traditionally, ROI from search partners has been higher than ROI from Google search. However, we can see that starting Q3 search partner ROI has been lower than Google search. To help explain this we need to understand how users interact on mobile/tablet devices, and on the search partner network:

Cross-device conversions – Users might be finding products on mobile/tablets, but they are converting on desktop.

Intent – Some of the search partner sites might lack retail intent, but the PLAs are still appealing so users are clicking at a high rate.

For example, Google Images and YouTube aren’t retail channels, but users tend to engage on these placements and click around.




“Only about 3% of total shopping spend came from search partners network (reflected in this sample of clients),” Fitch said.

“Even though the spend isn’t very high on search partners compared to Google search, we can see that it’s definitely increasing – especially on mobile and tablet devices. We can see that in the past, ROI was better on Search partners than on Google search. But with the increase in search partner traffic that started Q3, ROI started to dip as well, and perform lower than on Google search.”

For more on Google Search Partners, email [email protected]

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