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?

FINAL WORD

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!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

When It Comes To Your Google Ads, Size Does Matter

Advertisers using Google search are (or at least should be) well aware of the character limitations that Google makes available in their search ads. If you are not, here is a recap:

Title/Headline – 25 Characters.
Description Line 1 – 35 Characters.
Description Line 2 – 35 Characters.
Display URL – 35 Characters.

If an advertiser’s ad violates Google’s character ad limits listed above one of 3 things will happen:

  1. Ad disapproval – The ad will not run.
  2. Domain disabled – The advertiser will no longer be allowed to advertise until the issue is resolved.
  3. Account suspension – Google will no longer accept any advertising from the advertiser.

As you can see, Google takes violations of their character limits very seriously, so it is advised to adhere to their policies. 

However, there is an allowed way to lengthen and advertiser’s ads and allow ads to stand apart from the competition.  It is called Google Ad Extensions.

Google Ad Extensions – What They Are

Ad extensions are extra information that Google allows to be placed inside ads.  This extra information works to increase visibility and in many cases can dramatically improve CTR (click through rate), increasing traffic and improving ROI (rate on investment).

Ad extensions are not guaranteed to appear, but often do appear when ad advertiser’s listing is displayed in one of the top three ad positions.  The best part, ad extensions do not cost any more than normal ads without ad extensions. An account is only charged when an ad is clicked, so with an increased CTR and improved ROI a real possibility it is a no brainer to add strategic ad extensions to your existing campaign.

There are several different ad extensions available including sitelink extensions, call extensions, location extensions, review extensions, seller rating extensions, dynamic sitelink extensions,  app extensions and Google newest ad extension, the callout extension (see my post – Why Google’s Newest Ad Extension Provides A Competitive Advantage for detailed information on properly using this extension).  The type of ad extensions best used depends on each advertiser’s unique campaign and business.

Below, I will focus on 3 of Google’s most popular ad extensions – Sitelink Extensions, Call Extensions and Location Extensions. Looking at these popular ad extensions in what they are, how to properly implement and examples of each extension in use.

Review-and-Ratings-SystemGoogle Sitelink Extensions –

Sitelink extensions are extra information that allows a marketer to add up to 4 additional links for unique URLs to a standard ad.  They are eligible to be displayed on Google’s Search Network for mobile, tablet and desktop. 

The biggest advantage of using sitelink extensions is that users can be sent directly from an ad to a targeted page on the website that has the most interest to them.  This allows a user to go directly to a page that interest them, thus increasing conversion by not forcing users to further search for what they are looking for once they arrive on your website.

Below is a great example of sitelink extensions as used by UGG Australia. As you can see in the  image below, a search for UGG displays an ad for UGG Australia, but not only can a user go directly to the UGG home page, but they also have the ability to click on one of four sitelinks below the main ad which will direct users to either Women’s Slippers, Men’s Slippers, Women’s New Arrivals or UGG Online Exclusives.  These choices allow users to land on a page more relevant to them thus helping increase conversion.

UGGAnother benefit of sitelink extensions is that ads implementing them take more real estate on the page.  In this case, you will notice the ad in fact takes so much real estate it pushes all of their competitor’s ads to the right of the organic search.  Ads using sitelink extensions are larger and more prominent on the page a factor that has been found to significantly increase click through rates (CTR).

Google Call Extensions –

In 2013, Google stopped allowing advertisers to include their phone number inside their ads.  However, what they now do allow is for advertisers to use a call extension. 

In a nutshell, what call extensions do is to place an advertisers phone number on their ads and then when displaying on a mobile device it replaces the phone number with a call button.  The button allows customers to easily contact advertisers while on the go or to pick up the phone directly from their search from a desktop or tablet opposed to clicking on an ad and searching for a phone number.  Once you have the customer on the phone, well it is up to you and your sales team to deliver!

Call extensions where the call button is pushed are charged the same as a click on your ad.  Meaning that you will only pay what you were willing to pay for a click if the phone number is dialed from a mobile device, however now they are speaking to a live person instead of simply browsing your site and again call extensions make ads more prominent which increases CTR (click through rate), Google estimates between 6-8%.

Call extensions shown on search are not clickable if a customer decides to call the number listed instead of clicking on the ad, well in that case there would be no charge.

Currently call extensions are not available for Display Network aka Remarketing or Display Network aka Google Shopping, but for search they can be used across all devices.

Below is a look at how internet retailer Trenz Shirts uses call extensions as displayed on a laptop to increase visibility and CTR rates.  (Notice, they are also using sitelink extensions).

Phone-ExtensionGoogle Location Extensions –

Recommended exclusively for advertisers with brick and mortar location(s), location extensions as the name implies allows advertisers to list their business address, phone number and map marker alongside their ad text. For mobile, they will include a link with directions to the business.

Location extensions are great in that they encourage consumers to visit an advertiser’s physical location.  Multiple locations can be added manually or by linking accounts through Google’s My Business and location extensions allow marketers to target ads around specific business addresses.

Do they work?  Absolutely. Google estimates that ads that utilize location extensions increase click through rates (CTR) on an average of 10%!  Again this is due in part to giving your ads more prominence along with giving location and the confidence that is brought by having a physical location in today’s fly by night Internet world.

Here is an example,

Location-ExtensionIn the image above, you can see Home Depot using location extensions.  Their 500 S Marego Avenue address was listed as it is the closest address to the user doing the search.  You will notice that a map marker was also shown allowing potential customers to easily navigate to the store using Google maps.  And, to benefit, if a customer does not click on the ad or the location extension, the advertiser is NOT charged although the user is able to still see the address and know the location!

Why Use Google Ad Extensions?

Not every ad extension is applicable or right for every company, but across the board they have been found to positively increase both click through rate (CTR) and rate on investment (ROI). Plus there are no additional fees for using, so there is really no reason not to test the different Google ad extensions to see what works in your PPC campaigns.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing strategy sessions to those interested. Contact True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

Why Google’s Newest Ad Extension Provides A Competitive Advantage

A Google Search Ad contains four lines of text: a headline also known as a title (limited to 25 characters), two description lines of text (both limited to 35 characters), and a display URL. Within an ad there are a number of best -practices to make ads stand apart from the competition, which I have written about before in my blog post: Why Google Advertisers Need To Know Their Quality Score under the paragraph Improving quality score through ad copy.  These best-practices include tying creative to keywords, including a call to action and the proper use of Ad Extensions.

This article is going to discuss how to create distinction between your ad and the competitors with the use of Google Ad Extensions and specifically Google’s new Callout Extension.

Google Ad Extensions allows advertisers to place extra information in their ad.  Using Ad Extensions is an important and strategic way to increase your ads click through rate (CTR) by adding extra pieces of information within your ads that may not be used by all of your competitors. This extra line allows advertiser’s ads additional information to set themselves apart

Google Ad Extensions are nothing new, most Google Ad Extensions have been in place for years. Existing Ad Extensions included: Sitelink Extensions, Location Extensions, Call Extensions, App Extensions and Review Extensions. However, in October 2014, just in time for the holidays Google rolled out their newest extension – the Callout Extension.

What The Callout Extension Is – Google Callout Extensions allow advertisers to add another line of text just below the description text. The Callout Extension displays two distinct Callout Extensions simultaneously on the same line; in fact at least two Callout Extensions must be present in an advertiser’s account for Callout Extensions to be eligible to show. Callout Extensions are limited to 25 characters each and are not clickable and do not cost extra to display, they are simply another way to make your ads stand out from your competitors. Although there is no charge for displaying Callout Extensions, note advertisers will be charged per usual if an ad is clicked. Also, Callout Extensions are more likely to appear when an ad appears in the top one to two positions.

What It Looks Like – In the example below, I am showing an ad for my client Safes ETC. The ad appears in the top position and is showing both Sitelink Extensions as well as the just released Callout Extension.  In the ad, Google has combined the headline with the first line of description text (which happens when you close the first line with a period) and is then displaying the second line of description text and then the two distinct Callout Extensions (Plus Save 5% – NewYear15 and Those Who Know Shop Here) and finally the Sitelink Extensions.  As you can see the Callout Extensions appear above the Sitelink Extensions and are not clickable, just simply another line of text savvy Google advertisers can use.

Example of Callout Extension

 

How To Set It Up – Callout Extensions can be added on either an account level or a campaign level.  In order to set up on an account level, perform the following steps.

  1. Login to your Google AdWords account.
  2. Click on the Ad Extensions tab.
  3. Under the Campaigns tab, there is a pulldown menu of different ad extension types. Click the arrow and select Callout extensions.
  4. Click the red + Extensions box.
  5. Scroll down and select + New callout.
  6. Enter the new Callout text (here Google also allows you schedule when you would like to appear, leave this blank if you would like it to appear all the time).
  7. After you enter your callout text and schedule click save.
  8. Repeat to add additional Callout Extensions.

In order to setup Callout Extensions for the campaign level, first select the campaign in AdWords that the Callout Extensions should appear and then repeat the steps above.

Remember, there needs to be at least two Callout Extensions in order for the extensions to be eligible to show; however Google only shows two at a time.  Meaning if you have more than two Callout Extensions, Google will rotate the extensions allowing advertisers to test multiple extensions. This is best-practice so an advertise can determine and optimize the most effective Callout Extension.

Google Callout Extensions are new and in being new is where advertisers who add Callout Extensions to their account will gain an advantage, before Callout Extensions become common practice.  Google is now giving advertisers in the top spots the ability to add an additional line of text.  More text equals the ability to add more relevant information that will have users clicking on an ad; thus improving click through rates (CTR), quality score and the effectiveness of the Google campaign. A nice new tool from Google for those advertisers who wish to take advantage of the newest ad extension, I have been finding a healthy increase in CTR when used correctly.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing strategy sessions to those interested. Contact True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.