Google PLAs Gamed by eBay

Someone just gamed Google PLAs (product listing ads) with a listing on eBay. Aside from the somewhat unique PLA display shown below, with 6 product listings to the right of the SERPs; you can see that the advertiser added a red border to their product image. This essentially highlighted the listing and made it look like Google featured it out of all the other listing ads. But, it was just a trick with the product image.

You can see the highlighted border in the image. *I only added the arrow.

Google PLA error

Google PLA Highlighted Ad

You can see in the actual eBay listing that the product image still has the red border; which eliminates any notion that Google highlighted the original ad in the SERP. I’m not sure if the eBay user (the-la-guy) realizes what he did or if he was just trying to highlight the listing in eBay, but it is a genius way to improve CTR in Google PLAs.

eBay Google PLA

Source of PLA from eBay

Will other advertisers figure this out and start adding crazy borders to their product images? When will Google figure it out and add it to their TOS that you cannot have a border around the image? Will they write a program to automatically remove borders on images? It should be interesting to see how advertisers and the search engine handle this in the near future.

google got served

Google Got Served This Time

*I only saw the highlighted border when the PLAs were featured on the right. But it really depends on when eBay advertises the-la-guy’s listings. You can see that he does it to many of his products

Let me know if you’ve seen this and what your thoughts are on the ethics or policies of this.

Happy Bidding!