From simply answering a search query with a few hyperlinks in the early days, to today’s complex world of keyword ads and display ads going head-to-head with elaborate organic search algorithms, the internet is a far cry from what it used to be. Throw smartphone use into the mix, and search becomes a whole new ball game.

The instant search results that mobile apps are able to return play a big part in how users expect to see internet search results evolve. Now, when we source a coffee maker in an online search engine, we are expect the convenience of seeing it immediately – without having to click multiple links to find it.

On the contrary, the latest changes in Google’s search algorithm makes finding products from online retailers quite challenging. Many of the top-ranked organic listings are manufacturer sites that do not sell online, while online retailers and comparison shopping sites rank way below them. This experience usually pushes the shopper to click on paid keyword advertising listings in which the advertiser controls the contextual relevance, and often results in a misleading and time consuming encounter for the consumer (which can also be quite expensive for the retailer).

In order to improve the user experience for shoppers, Google has created PLAs – or Product Listing Ads. PLAs immediately present the shopper with an image, price, product name and seller, for products matching their keyword search – right there on the first search results page. It’s a win for everyone: Google improves the experience for shoppers, while creating the highest return advertising unit ever available to on online retailers. Branding and impressions are free and retailers only pay for a click-thru once a qualified shopper clicks on your product ad, and visits your site.

Simply put, placing your products on a Google search page in the form of PLAs means that 1) shoppers no longer have to wade through a mass of organically ranked links to find your product, 2) all impressions are free of charge, 3) clicks are qualified, and 4) your ROAS (return on ad spend) has greater potential than ever before.