It’s hard to believe that ad extensions have been around since 2009. When the new ad formats were introduced, there were only 4 extensions. Furthermore, these extensions were only available at the campaign level. Since then, both Google and Bing have released, tested, and retired at least 20 extensions over the years. What was once simply an “add-on” feature to your text ads, extensions now require their own strategy.
Today, I want to focus on when and how extensions should be utilized at the ad group level. Thus, I won’t be talking about the following extensions:
Though these extensions can be utilized at the ad group level, it is rare that you would do so. You might have different phone numbers for ad groups or a specific product may have a review, but by and large, these extensions are set at the account and campaign levels. I also won’t be focusing on automated extensions (Seller Ratings, Social, etc) and extensions in beta. Due to the randomness of automated extensions and NDAs of betas, strategy can’t accurately be assessed. Instead, I’ll be focusing on these extensions:
- Callout (Google only)
- Image (Bing only)
- Structured Snippet (Google only)
For this strategy discussion, we’ll use a real example from Keurig. Our campaign will focus on Green Mountain k-cups as we determine where it makes sense to use ad group level extensions. For the purposes of our discussion, here are the ad groups we’ll use:
- Green Mountain Coffee (general brand keywords)
- Breakfast Blend
- Double Diamond
- French Vanilla
- Nantucket Blend
- Our Blend
- Pumpkin Spice
- Vermont Country Blend
The primary use of sitelinks is to create additional, relevant links for users to click. At the campaign level, we want to ensure that no matter the ad the user sees, whether for brand Green Mountain keywords or french vanilla terms, the sitelinks are general enough. A search for “Green Mountain Breakfast Blend” may trigger this ad with sitelinks:
Though the ad speaks directly to Breakfast Blend, the sitelinks are generic, but relevant if users click. However, for the branded Green Mountain keywords without the specific blend, we want our sitelinks to be more precise. Here’s a search for “Green Mountain k-cups” where all sitelinks are specific blends.
In branded campaigns, there tends to be at least one ad group that is more generic and deserves its own sitelinks. Additionally, this ad group tends to get more impressions than the more specific ad groups, thus justifying the added time to create the unique sitelinks. You can certainly create unique sitelinks for each ad group, but the time needed should be worth the potential reward.
I follow two rules of thumb when determining ad group level sitelinks. The first is whether the volume justifies it. Generally, if an ad group has received at least 1,000 impressions over the last 30 days, it is a good candidate for unique sitelinks. Second, I determine if potential ad group sitelinks would be better than the campaign level. For Breakfast Blend, there aren’t any additional links on the landing page that speak to the product. I could potentially create a sitelink for “All Green Mountain,” but it probably wouldn’t make a difference. With sitelinks, and the other extensions we’ll discuss, you have to make the best use of your precious time.
The main benefit of callout extensions is that they add another line of text to your ad. How you use this extra line is up to you. At the account and campaign levels, you can call out features such as:
- Free shipping
- How long you have been in business
- Customer support
You may also decide to use these callouts as actual description lines in your text ads. Either way, that extra line is ripe for opportunity.
One way to use callouts at the ad group level is to describe the additional benefits and or features of the product. Using our Breakfast Blend example, we speak to the features of the blend.
For the branded Green Mountain ad group, our callouts can speak to general offerings.
Again, it’s up to you how specific your callouts are. You’ll want to consider which messaging is going to be most impactful to your audience and how much time your efforts will take.
The purpose of structured snippets is to include a list of information about your product/service offering. For example, a college could use the snippet to list degree programs while an airline could showcase their destinations. These lists could potentially be used as sitelinks and callouts, but we’ve already discussed the purposes of these other two extensions. Structured snippets allow for another line of text and give users a high-level offerings overview.
Structured snippets have only been around for a few months, however, I’m finding them to be more beneficial for general ad groups. For example, our Breakfast Blend ad group only represents one item, so there aren’t additional offerings to list. However, our branded Green Mountain ad group is meant to showcase many products. We may decide to list the different types of Green Mountain coffee available.
In this case, our structured snippet lists the types of coffee, the sitelinks lead to specific blends, and the callouts talk about features of the brand offering.
One of the newest Bing Ads features, Image extensions show an image next to the ad. Similarly to Google’s now retired Image extensions, the image can be of a product or represent a service. Using our examples, the branded Green Mountain coffee ad group can showcase a variety of products, or the individual item. Here’s an example for Breakfast Blend (not including ad text).
As with all of the other extensions, your time will dictate which ad groups get Image extensions.
Even though ad extensions are optional, for all intensive purposes, they need to be part of your overall ad creation strategy. Especially at the ad group level, extensions make your ads more informative and give users greater reason to click. If you haven’t reviewed your ad extensions in a while or haven’t given much thought to them, spend some time assessing their relevance as they relate to your campaign and ad groups.