Comparison Shopping Services (CSSs) and Product Listing Ads (PLA) could be the secret you’ve been looking for if striving to reduce your advertising budget without losing sales, or if you’re looking to increase profits without spending more – and who wouldn’t want that?

How do they work?

CSSs enable free product listings and shopping ads to be placed online for merchants. They can bid to place ads on search results pages on behalf of the merchants they represent. An example of a CSS are Google CSSs, and they bid on behalf of the merchants they represent.

It is definitely worth looking into as an option, especially as a small number of Google CSS partners even bill on a commission only basis, removing a large element of risk.

They are rapidly becoming a popular asset in affiliate programmes, and it’s clear as to why – research in 2018 found that in the UK, 82% of ad spend and 87.9% of all clicks on Google Ads came through shopping campaigns.

For merchants

Merchants can select how they would like to participate in CSSs, but it will usually involve providing information on the product, which will then be placed in an ad, linking to the merchants landing page.

CSSs use a separate account for each merchant, into which they can upload inventory and run shopping campaigns on their behalf.

Users can view this inventory and from it can be directed to complete the purchase.

How do CSS and PLA work together?

CSS ads tend to show up on more generic searches, whereas PLA ads are designed to answer specific product searches. Both of the advertising options will take consumers to product pages directly, to complete the purchase.

PLAs use a cost-per-click model, and if merchants decided to run their ads through CSS, this would enable them to profit due to a number of reasons, one being because the margin on each click will be reduced.

CSSs and PLAs could become a valuable part of your strategy, and even if not, they are worth experimenting with, as they present a minimal threat to profit loss.