Image Extensions – Making Google Search Ads Viable Again?

Google Shopping ads over the last few years have outperformed Google Search Ads in terms of profitability for the majority of my private clients.

Like many of you may have done, most of my private clients have opted out of advertising using Google Search campaigns.

The only exception where Search campaigns are still widely used across verticals is with a branded Search campaign. Note, a branded campaign is where you bid on your company name and close variants.

However, this might all soon change.

Google has begun to roll out a new ad extension that has significantly increased CTR (click through rates) and conversion rates. With this new Google ad extension, I have been seeing the potential to again make Search ads more viable for many of my private clients.

What is the extension?

They are image extensions.

While still in BETA and not currently available in all accounts, within the accounts that I have activated I have seen a significant increase in click through rates and conversion rates worth getting excited about!

Why is this?

One of the reasons that Google Shopping ads work so well is because users know what to expect before clicking on the product ad. Being able to see the product image along with the product title and price gives an accurate picture of what a user can expect BEFORE they click on an ad.

With Google Search Ads, even with the most clearly written ad there could be room for confusion on what they expect in terms of the user.

This confusion leads to high bounce rates thus lowering quality score thus lowering your ad rank and yes increasing the cost per click that Google charges.

However, by being able to show a related image along within the Search ad, much of this possible confusion is now removed.

In addition, image extensions are eye catching and help ads stand out from competitors who have not yet implemented these extensions with their Search ads.

Who can run ads and what are the requirements?

In order to be eligible for image extensions, accounts need to have the following:

  1. Have a good history of policy compliance.
  2. Ads accounts need to be within an eligible vertical. Sensitive verticals such as sexual content, gambling and alcohol are not allowed.
  3. Accounts must be open at least 90 days.

Image extensions use two ratios:

  1. Square (1×1) minimum size 300 x 300 pixels; recommended size 1200 x 1200 pixels.
  2. Rectangle (1.91×1) minimum size 600 x 314 pixels; recommended size 1200 x 628 pixels.

Note, square images are required while rectangle are optional.

Google recommends as best-practices for advertisers to upload 3 of each size for every account they wish to have images used with the total images allowed being 20 images for each ad group.

Note, just like Shopping ads, watermarks, logos and other promotional overlays are prohibited within images.

Google performs quality and policy checks before approving image extension so you should make sure your images are compliant with the above policies.

Instructions to Create Image Extensions:

  1. Sign into your Google Ads Account.
  2. In the left menu, select Ads & Extensions, then Extensions.
  3. Click the blue plus button and select Image Extensions.
  1. Select a campaign or ad group where you would like to add the new extension.
  2. Select the blue plus next to images and select image source you wish to access to add your image.
  3. You have the option to add new images or add existing images to your campaign. For new images, you can upload images or have Google scan your website or social channels for existing images.
  1. If images don’t meet specifications, you will have the option to crop images.
  2. Upload at least 1 square image. Recommended to upload 3 images with maximum of 20.
  3. You can preview your image by clicking on the pencil icon. Once you are satisfied, click Save and images will be submitted for approval.

Image Extensions – How They Appear

Here is an example of a live image extension as it appears on this mobile device.

Notice how an image appears next to the ad description below the ad headline and above site extensions?

Note how prominent it makes the ad appear?

What do you think this is going to do for the click through rates?


Start using image extensions!

It is rare that I can recommend a new rollout from Google Ads to be used across all verticals, but with image extensions I am comfortable doing just that.

I have not found any examples where using image extensions underperforms not using them. Plus, image extensions do not cost anything more to include on your ads and in fact by increasing your quality score they likely will lower your CPC.

One strategy that has worked well for me is reviewing which keywords are currently converting in your Google Shopping campaigns and using this list to create a new Search campaign.

By using a list of keywords along with the image for items that are already converting and directing them to a category page where users can shop for the item, you will immediately have double coverage using both Shopping and Search ads.

Regardless of the strategy you decide to apply, make sure you are using relevant images that add to the customer experience and begin to test results with your own account!


Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. In 2020, he was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit or read The Full Story on his website or his blog,