The plasmonic behavior of metallic nanoparticles is explicitly dependent on their shape, size and the surrounding dielectric space. This study encompasses the influence of ZnO matrix, morphology of Au nanoparticles (AuNPs) and their organization on the optical behavior of ZnO/AuNPs-ZnO/ZnO/GP structures (GP: glass plate). These structures have been grown by a multiple-step physical process, which includes dc sputtering, thermal evaporation and thermal annealing. Different analytical techniques such as scanning electron microscopy, glancing angle X-ray diffraction, Rutherford backscattering spectrometry and optical absorption have been used to study the structures. In-situ rapid thermal treatment during dc sputtering of ZnO film has been found to induce subtle changes in the morphology of AuNPs, thereby altering the profile of the plasmon band in the absorption spectra. The results have been contrasted with a recent study on the spectral response of dc magnetron sputtered ZnO films embedded with AuNPs. Initial simulation results indicate that AuNPs-ZnO/Au/GP structure reflects/absorbs UV and infrared radiations, and therefore can serve as window coatings. Copyright © 2015 American Scientific Publishers.