Two weeks in a row I’ve brought you a post about ad extensions! Last week the latest AdWords buzz regarded the new sitelink descriptions. This week Google released the beta for a new extension.

More Extensions You Say?

Google revealed an ad extension that displays reviews. Google’s announcement called it the “don’t take our word for it” extension. Advertisers can submit quotes or summaries of third party reviews to be displayed in their search ads.

The new extension allows advertisers to select review snippets to place in their ads. With all these recent additions such as images, descriptions, and now reviews, advertisers have quite an arsenal of extensions. I’m reminded of those Apple iPhone ads “Need to do something? There is an app for that!” In this case it is “Need to do something with your ad? There is an extension for that!”

Coincidentally, the other week I was part of an in-office presentation on advanced ad copy tactics and I suggested that those whose clients had reviews and testimonials should try quotes in their ad copy. Of course this is difficult to do with 70 characters, plus the call to action or any other messaging needed. This extension breaks down that barrier and allows you to use your already successful ads and enhance them with reviews.

Are There Any Limits?

There are a few conditions beyond the standard ad copy policies. The reviews must be from a reputable third party source and advertisers must secure permission to use the review. Basically make sure it’s a real source, most likely independent, with a degree of credibility. Second, if you are going to use a review that is not currently openly public it won’t hurt to ask the reviewer if it is OK to include it in your ad. Lastly, if you have any concerns you can always contact Google Support or an AdWords representative for clarification for your situation.

Extension submissions will be subject to both machine and human review processes. This should cut down on deceptive and false claims. It also means you probably can’t get away with some nebulous statement such as “Leading studies found it works 70% of the time, all the time, guaranteed” and get away with it.

What’s Next?

Of course this extension is not for everyone but if television advertising has taught us anything over the years, toothpaste salesmen will be in a great position. 4 out of 5 dentists always recommend their product over leading competitors. You don’t necessarily have to select reviews about a specific product though. You could also highlight a variety of material regarding quality of service, knowledge, or general expertise. There are quite a few options. I would start by taking an inventory of the reviews and testimonials you have and work out different quotes and topics that could be tested in multiple extensions.

One of the latest discussions around the office regarded the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, Two of the many topics the book covers are authority and social proof, both of which relate to reviews. Reviews can signal both of these attributes by showing that other people enjoy your products or services, and that someone with some authority has approved of these as well.

We as a species have a tendency to put a lot of faith into social proof and authority. As social creatures it functions as a convenient cognitive shortcut when making decisions. Studies indicate that even if you tell yourself you don’t respond to this, you conform much more than you believe you do. So if you have any applicable material that could be used in the extension, give it a shot you might just be surprised at the effectiveness. There is also a second bonus, the trustworthy impression lasting; the effect may carry over all the way from click through conversion. This extension has the potential to be very powerful.

As of now the extension is in beta and only in the English language. If you have an AdWords representative you can request to be included in the beta. If not you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer for this new feature.