Using Image Search Ads in Google

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If you’re relatively new to PPC advertising, Google’s image search ads may have flown under your radar. What are image search ads, you may be asking? Image search ads are ads that include both text and an inline image, appearing only on Google image search results pages. Don’t confuse these with image ads, which are graphical ads that show on Google’s Display Network.

Here’s what an image search ad looks like:

As you can see from my sample search for a wedding dress, this type of ad can be very effective for branding purposes for products that people would be likely to search for by image. Furthermore, as you can see above, image search ads are served in an excellent location on image search results pages.

Before setting up your image search ads, here are a few best practices to keep in mind. Create separate campaigns/ad groups for your image ads, as you would for your Search and Display ads. (We here at PPC Hero always recommend segmenting your account content by network location.) You’ll want to be able to monitor and control search image ads separately from your other Search Network content, tailoring your keyword lists to image searches and not general Web searches. You’ll also want to make sure your images are specific to your content so searchers are seeing a thumbnail image that is relevant to their image search. Unlike Google Product Ads, the image thumbnail shown with your image search ad is static, i.e. you have to specify which image shows with your ad. Google recommends choosing an image that is simple and encompasses the general essence of your product or service.

To create an image search ad, head into AdWords, and once you’re in your desired campaign and ad group, go to the Ads tab. Click the “New Ad” button, and select “Display ad builder” from the drop down menu. I know this is slightly confusing as I mentioned not confusing these with Display Image Ads, but for whatever reason this is where Google houses the image search ad template.

Once in the Display Ad Builder, choose “Image Search” in the left navigation, under “Media and Channels.”

From there, you’ll see the Image Search Ad template:

You’ll create your text ad in the same format as you would any other text ad in Google (headline, two description lines, display and destination URLs), and you’ll select an image to display inline with your ad.

Google will let you select an image from your computer, a previously uploaded image, an image from their stock image gallery, or an image from your website. If you choose to upload an image from your website, you simply enter in your URL, certify that you have permission to use these images, and then Google will pull all images from the page/URL you entered.

A few additional notes about Google’s image search ads. You can edit your image search ads in Adwords’ desktop editor after you’ve created them using the ad builder in the online interface. You will find your image search ads on the Display Ads tab in the desktop editor. Unlike ads on Google’s Display Network, you can track your image search ads performance at the keyword level. And, lastly, just make sure the campaign housing your image search ads is opted into Google’s Search Network.

If you’re currently running image search ads in Google, we’d love to hear how they’re working for you! Let us know in the comments section below.

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10 thoughts on “Using Image Search Ads in Google

  1. Ashish Chandoke

    I used Google search ads in my campaign but it didn’t turn out fruitful 2 me.
    Its not a good option for ROI oriented campaign though can be a boost for your branding campaign.
    Also, its limited as it does not suits every product. for example, why would someone search on google image if he is looking for any flight or insurance deals?

    1. Sarah

      Hi Ashish – you’re right, image search ads won’t yield a good ROI for every product or service, especially for things like insurance which wouldn’t be image search heavy. I think these ads are best suited for products that people want to see before they buy, like clothing, furniture, etc.

    2. Mike

      likewise. We ran image search ads as well during the beta and it was a horrible ROI. We turned it off after a month.  I think the problem is the search intent of someone searching for images is very different from the search intent of someone searching in the search results.

      Considering the search intent, i can see where it might be relevant. Ie. Someone selling posters or prints of famous paintings might want to advertise on ‘mona lisa’ image searches. The intent would be more in line with a desire to purchase a print or poster if you’re searching for images – and with the space currently vacant, CPC’s are probably extremely low.

      1. Sarah

        Hi Mike – you make an excellent point about search intent, and the availability of ad space. Definitely cost effective for the few types of accounts that would fit this mode of searching! I could see this working for anyone selling anything like invitations or other design-oriented products. I frequently search for an image of these types of things first to  do some brainstorming, or to just see what’s out there.

  2. Katy

    Thanks for the info – I haven’t tried this yet.  But I can’t find any info on image size – is it the same as image ads?

    1. Sarah

      Hi Katy – I have scoured Google’s help pages for the size of the image thumbnail for the exact size of the image that shows with your ad on search pages, but they don’t seem to provide this information. These are the same format as image ads, as, only the square thumbnail will show (as in my screenshot above). When you go to create your image search ad in the builder, you can preview your image as you go. I saved one of the image thumbnails and opened it in an editor, and the size was 180×180. Obviously Google is downsizing the thumbnail on screen, so my best advice would just be to use an image that’s square and can be scaled down.

  3. ksaxoninternet

    You really do learn something new every day! Completely missed this when it came out, but I can see it has a lot of potential – like Mike says it won’t work for everyone, but interiors and definitely wedding vendors can really win with this.


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