Ad Extensions: A Review
LAST UPDATED: TOPIC: Pay Per Click
Ad extensions are a powerful piece of kit for PPC advertisers that can improve click-through rates, highlight additional content and take up more valuable screen real estate. While a lot of content has been published about the various types of ad extensions over the years, including some that are no longer in existence, this article aims to be a refresher on the key use cases for the more common and longer-lived ad extensions on both Google Ads and Bing Ads in 2018.
Below is a sample desktop client ad showing many common ad extensions. I have highlighted individual extension types in green in further screenshots in each section.
Perhaps the most common type of ad extension, sitelinks have been around for a long time now and are used by most advertisers. Sitelinks, as the below example shows, are designed to make your ads bigger, more compelling and ultimately more clickable. The bonus is that they are cost-neutral. A click on a sitelink in an ad unit is the same price as a click on the ad itself.
One thing to bear in mind is that while the below example shows the full 4 sitelinks that can show in the “best case scenario”, the Google algorithm determines how many sitelinks your ad will show, how often they will show, and if they will be “expanded” to include the additional lines of text under the sitelink headline. There is no way to “force” Google Ads to show the sitelinks you want each time your ad appears but regular optimisation, a high-quality score, strong average positions and general good CTR and campaign history should ensure that they show up often.
On a desktop, sitelinks will display 2 to 6 links, which may appear as the clickable sitelink “headlines” on one line or fill up to 2 lines of your ad. On tablet and mobile devices, you can show up to 8 links, which appear side by side on a single line in a carousel format. Swiping left/right on the carousel will allow folks to browse your sitelinks.
- Use sitelinks at campaign level, and only use them at ad group level when you need an ad group level override
- Your “Contact Us” page always makes for a useful sitelink
- Don’t repeat what you’ve said in your ad copy in your sitelinks, or among sitelinks
- Don’t use the same URL in your ad in your sitelinks, or among multiple sitelinks
More info on sitelinks for Google Ads here
This type of extension is frequently confused with sitelinks above, since they give the ability to again showcase extra information and take up more screen real estate. The important distinction is that callouts are not clickable and are much smaller in character limits and appearance. Like sitelinks, the Google algorithm will dictate how and where they show. On a desktop, callouts follow the ad copy and appear separated by dots on a single line above the sitelinks if any sitelinks are showing. Callouts on mobiles and tablets wrap in a paragraph form.
- Use callouts to promote USPs not mentioned in ad copy or sitelinks
- Focus on “facts” not “fluff”, e.g. “25+ Years’ Experience”, “Free Shipping” etc. rather than “High Quality Products” as callouts
- Use callouts at campaign or even account level, and only use them at ad group level when you need an ad group level override
More info on callout extensions for Google Ads here
For businesses with a physical presence, location extensions help searchers to find your location by showing your ads with your address and link to Google Maps. On mobile, this will also display the distance to your location.
What puts some folks off using this extension type is the fact you need to set up a Google My Business (GMB) listing, though most folks with a physical location will have one of these set up. Issues arise with the linking of Google My Business to Google Ads, particularly if the listing was set up under different email profiles, some of which you may not have direct access to.
- Make sure your location(s) are fully set up in GMB before linking and syncing to Google Ads
- Closed or duplicate locations need to be removed
- If you have multiple locations with individual GMB accounts/email profiles, it may be best to attempt to merge these into one “master” GMB profile, although this may take some time with the verification process
More info on location extensions for Google Ads here
For businesses that handle a lot of customer calls or wish to increase them, call extensions let you display your business number alongside your ad in the search results. On smartphones, this becomes a clickable “call” button, which is charged the same as a click on the ad. On desktop and tablets, this displays as a number which someone can choose to call without going through to the website. If you attempt to include a phone number elsewhere in the ad or in other extensions your ad may be disapproved.
You can also create call only campaigns. For more info on these for Google Ads, please see here
Particularly for mobile users, the “call” button saves time and effort. You can also count calls as conversions and see call reporting data when using a Google forwarding number on Google Ads.
- Use your business direct line rather than a special number that may cost more from mobiles, e.g. in Ireland 1850/1890 numbers are a usually a flat rate per call/minute from a landline nationally, but are often not included in mobile packages/bundles
- Be mindful of using international numbers which may cost more for customers to dial when targeting multiple countries with the same campaign
- Use the feature for Google Ads to restrict numbers to show only during business hours to minimise missed calls and voicemails
More info on this call extensions for Google Ads here
This allows mobile searchers the third option, other than click to call button from call extensions above or a click through to website, to send you a text message. Through this, you gain their mobile number.
All that is required is a working mobile phone number to reply to them and a human/bot input to respond to the text. Uptake on this feature by end users has been minimal for our clients, so we wouldn’t worry too much about a lot of texts to reply to unless you are a large company with a high volume of customer enquiries.
You can modify both what is displayed in the ad for this feature and the initial automated text you will receive if someone uses this feature. The defaults are shown in the example below.
- Make sure you text the person back rather than calling them, but attempt to set up a call with them as soon as possible
- Call if they don’t follow up to your reply text within a reasonable amount of time
- Have a system for collecting the mobile numbers and adding them to your CRM, subject to relevant data protection considerations
- Pay attention to country codes in phone numbers if you are running campaigns across multiple countries so you can tailor the response accordingly
More information on message extensions for Google Ads here
Structured Snippet Extensions
Structured snippets show beneath your text ad in the form of a header (ex: “Destinations”) and list of values (ex: “Hawaii, Costa Rica, South Africa”). You can show up to two sets of these on desktop and one set on mobile and tablet.
It’s important to make sure your header and values match, as a mismatch is the most likely reason your snippets will be disapproved. For example, “Costa Rica” is a destination, “Free Wi-Fi” is an amenity, and “Dementia Care” is a service.
There’s no cost to add structured snippets extensions, but you’ll be charged as usual for clicks on your ad.
- Use “Services” or “Types” if in doubt and specify at least 3 or 4
- Try not to repeat anything that has already been covered in ad copy or other extensions
More information on structured snippets for Google Ads here
For any advertiser that has products or services with pricing information on their website, price extensions help you showcase offerings in more detail, with a link through to the relevant product/service page.
- Use base rates to avoid the need for constant updates “From € X”
- Be aware of local currencies for international campaigns
- You can upload price extensions in bulk – see here
More information on price extensions for Google Ads here
As the name suggests, this type of extension is used to showcase promotions to make your offers stand out in the search results.
More information on promotion extensions for Google Ads here
- Use available occasions/dates for promotion extensions
- Use scheduling for promotion extensions
- Make use of coupon codes, if you don’t mind them being shared beyond just the searcher
More information on promotion extensions for Google Ads here
If you have an app on the Apple App Store and/or Google Play store, you can highlight the ability to download the app directly from the relevant store without the need to visit the website on mobile and tablets. These are priced the same as a regular ad click. Note that unlike other extensions, only one app can be showcased per ad. More information on app extensions for Google Ads here
- Make sure your relevant App and Play Store entries are up to date
- Consider tracking app downloads. More information on this here
Bing Ads Extensions
When it comes to extensions on Bing Ads, for the most part they are identical to Google Ads extensions and should also be included in any import of campaigns from Google Ads to Bing Ads. After any import, it’s important to check that all have been copied across. Some of these extensions are not available for setup in Bing Ads Editor and can only be created in the Bing Ads UI.
Some important distinctions are below, and full details of Bing Ads extensions are here
Available in the United States and United Kingdom on all devices. Available in all other Bing markets on smartphones only, except for China. More information here
No syncing with Bing Maps or Google My Business is needed. Simply input the address details for this extension. Note that some unconventional addresses or brand-new ones may be rejected. More information here
These were sunsetted by Google Ads in 2017 yet remain a feature on Bing Ads. See more information here
A feature unique to Bing Ads, despite Google introducing betas like this feature twice since 2012, this allows you to showcase images in your search ads. See more information here
Ad extensions are a vital piece of kit for anyone managing PPC accounts, particularly search campaigns. If you are taking advantage of the full benefits of these cost-neutral add ons, you should set them up and/or review your existing ad extension suite today
According to both Google:
“Extensions expand your ad with additional information—giving people more reasons to choose your business. They typically increase an ad’s click-through-rate by several percentage points”
“Ad extensions are free to add to your ads, with the usual charges for any clicks you get. Including ad extensions can improve the visibility of your ads, which can lead to more clicks and improve your ROI.”