At SMX West Google Senior Product Manager for Ads Quality Nick Fox offered a detailed look at several new PPC product offerings: sitelinks, product extensions and comparison ads. If you’re considering rolling any of these out, here’s the lowdown on how they work, along with some tactical tips.
With sitelinks, up to four text links are displayed underneath an AdWords ad unit.
In the interface, advertisers can list up to 10 sitelinks per ad unit. Generally speaking, ads are displayed for top ranked ads with a high Quality Score, but—typical of Google’s approach to ad delivery in the paid search auction—there is no guarantee that ads will always appear even if they meet the stated minimum criteria. Sitelinks are keyword-based ads and advertisers pay for advertising on a CPC basis.
I’ve seen sitelinks used effectively in many ways. Sitelinks can:
- Cut down navigation time and get searchers to popular category pages faster.
- Quickly connect visitors to timely deals and offers. Several advertisers used sitelinks to advertise deals related to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Compel searchers to take a desired action with the 35 character headline description Google allows for each sitelink (take a look at the proflower.com deal example above).
Nick Fox claims results have been “stunning” and that’s there’s typically a 30-40% increase in CTR from sitelinks. This stands to reason: the unit is prominent, larger, and comprised of multiple links. It counts as one click for your ad no matter which of the links get clicked.
If you’re trying to decide which links from your site to include for eligibility beyond your main landing page, consider your analytics. Try popular pages or other high-converting pages. Or, think of the sitelinks deployment like an experiment: assuming you have a strategy to measure this, you’ll find out which among several links Google users prefer in a unit like this. A bit like an inexpensive user lab!
With product extensions, specific products and product images are displayed under the paid search ad units.
Product extensions are feed-based and are tied to advertiser Google Merchant Center accounts. Google chooses which products are displayed. Note: Don’t confuse this product with “product listing ads” for affiliates (CPA model) which is still in beta.
When trying product extensions, you shouldn’t get too bogged down setting up a Google merchant center account. It’s as easy as filling out an Excel spreadsheet with parameters like price, description, etc. Also, if you have many products and setting up a Google Merchant account seems daunting, start with your highest margin products or your highest volume products and build out your account from there. You can start with as many or as few as you choose.
Comparison ads allow consumers to compare multiple relevant offers and are beneficial for highly competitive markets like finance. In the US, comparison ads are currently available for mortgage companies and will be rolled out shortly to credit card companies so people can easily compare offers like cash back, air miles, etc. (comparison ads are currently available to credit card companies in the UK).
Once users find relevant offers, they can either call directly or request a quote. To protect searcher information (phone numbers), Google sends the company a unique code to contact the user. Advertisers only pay if the users call the phone number in the ad or request a quote.
Overall benefits of Google’s new ad units
There are two key advantages to the new ad units. First, they push competitor ads down the page and take up more screen real estate. In some cases, this comes at a price. Many advertisers will be willing to pay that price, but like everything in the auction, the market has to find its own level.
The second benefit is additional tracking features so you can further optimize your paid search accounts. Google has introduced some new tracking including metrics like plusbox impressions, plusbox expansion rate, plusbox expansions, CTR when plusbox was expanded, etc. Take a look at the screenshot related to this below.
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