AdWords Image Extensions: The Pros and Cons

AdWords image extensions rolled out in beta early this month for English ads worldwide. Similar to Product Listing Ads (PLA), image extensions allow businesses to use images right in their ads. But unlike PLAs, these images can be used in different ways than just a product image, like conveying the “body style of a car, the cut of a pair of jeans or a particular shade of eyeshadow,” Google said in its announcement.

Google also explained when image extensions would be shown:

“Image extensions will show in some cases when we determine that a search is likely for visual content. For example, it is more likely that your image extensions will show for a query like luxury car designs than locations of nearby car dealerships.”

Here’s what those extensions could look like:

AdWords Image Extemsion

Since visual marketing is only growing, we think this move is just one more step in the direction paid search results are going to continue to go. So let’s quickly go over what we think the pros and cons of this new extension will be for advertisers so you can explore if it’s right for your business.

Image Extensions: Pros

The pros of this new feature are similar to the pros of the PLA: it’s a visually engaging component of your paid search that should increase click throughs. What’s different with image extensions versus PLAs, though, is that it’s not meant just for products and not driven by your Google Shopping Feed.

From what we understand, these images are meant to better convey concepts about a product, brand or something else. That’s why this new extension is great for businesses that sell services or abstract things.

One example of this concept in action is the travel category. Let’s say you run paid search for the visitors bureau of Boston. In your ad, you could add images of landmarks and tourist attractions to your image extensions that entice users to click through.

One huge benefit we see for ecommerce is if we will be able to claim both the image extension and the PLA. With images in two different areas, your brand can dominate the top space of the results.

Chalkboard with a Table for Pros and Cons

Image Extensions: Cons

For now, only advertisers who are placed in the No. 1 spot in AdWords have the ability to use image extensions. This is a no-brainer then for first-place advertisers to try. However, many advertisers are happy to be in position No. 2 and 3.

Since the No. 1 spot generally enjoys more clicks anyway, the image extensions give that No. 1 advertiser an additional leg up on spots 2 and 3. But we’re not convinced it’s worth it to pay for the No. 1 spot just to use this image extension.

But it does beg the question of if image extensions will ultimately increase ad spend because No. 2 and 3 might become less attractive over time. As always, we’ll play with the new feature and report back on anything we discover that could be of value to you.

Choosing Images for Extensions

For now, it’s not conclusive what types of images Google is looking for in this extension. In any case, we look at it as an opportunity to be creative and to brand your business.

If you’re a corporate organization, perhaps you want to feature pictures of your office space, your employees or events you host. Think about how you can represent abstract concepts about your business through professionally made graphics.

As an example, let’s say you sell Myers-Briggs personality tests. You could feature images of people who represent the various personality types, or write those personality types on a chalkboard or some other visual way to convey more about the product or service.

Since we don’t yet have enough experience with this extension, we can speculate that AdWords is going to place the same scrutiny on images for this extension as they do for other image submissions.

That means, your images could take up to several days to be approved or denied based on several factors, including:

  • Relevancy: Make sure the image is as relevant to the ad and your business as possible.
  • Quality: Make sure you have beautiful, high-quality images to represent your brand and its services. Spend money on them if you have to.

We plan to start experimenting with AdWords image extensions very soon, and will report back once we see what the process is and how it impacts ROI.