So a Carousel Must Speak Volumes

“Another year over and a new one just begun,” said John Lennon, and, looking back – what a year it was for Google AdWords with hundreds of algorithm changes and some massive user interface changes. And 2017 looks like being more of the same as Google pursues its Mobile First strategy. I think it’s safe to say that anything Google launches this year will be for the benefit of mobile users and mobile advertisers. How many warnings do you need if your site is still not mobile friendly?

But first, let’s take a look at how Google is doing as a company. Well, in their last posted quarter to 30 September 2016 revenues were up by almost $4 billion to $22.45 billion and nearly $20 billion of that was generated from advertising revenues. Yes, folks, during that period, Google took in £154,000 every minute from AdWords.

So, what’s new to start the year?

Well at Barefoot Digital we’ve been fortunate to be white-listed by Google to be included in some beta testing, which allows us to get a glimpse of what’s coming down the tracks and one exciting development, again with mobile in mind is a new ad extension called “Visual Site Links”.

This new and exciting extension will only show in mobile search results and, for the time being, will only show for the ad in the number one position. However, in my opinion, since the ad in the number one position commands the whole of the screen on most mobile devices, there’s no other position I’d want to be in.

This new extension has both a swipe-able carousel of images plus the usual 25-character maximum title and a 50-character maximum description. This is still search based, so your keyword and image pairing are the keys to success with Visual Site Links. Those search results which are better explained with the use of an image will be the clear winners.

I’m a great fan of site links.

These are devices Google makes available to allow you to make your ad the biggest on the page. I know they’re also available to the other participants in the auction, but I never cease to be amazed at how many advertisers fail to take advantage of these. Of course if you’re the only one on the search engine results page making full use of site extensions, then your ad is going to stand out.

Site links were originally devised as hyperlinks to other relevant pages on your website and appear as simple blue links below your main ad copy.

You’ll find site links and all the other ad extensions under the “Ad Extensions” tab in your AdWords interface.

And so it is with Visual Site Links for mobile. To be fair, Google is playing catch-up here. Facebook has had a facility like this for a while. But the reason for my excitement – its an opportunity to show pictures of your product in a search ad on a mobile before anyone has clicked and, of course before you have paid the cost of a click.

Remember, good marketing should repel the wrong type of customer and attract the right type.

So, by showing images of your product then hopefully those for whom the product is not appropriate will be put off clicking (and therefore wasting your ad budget), and similarly, those who may have been unsure whether to click or not based on your ad copy get a chance to see before they click.

According to Google, performance from this extension will be heavily dependent on image quality and relevance to the keywords they map to in your AdWords account. Images should highlight the actual product experience and evoke an emotional response.

Google will be very fussy about the physical properties of the images (you must supply at least four) and, annoyingly, the images follow the latest Google trend of requiring to be landscape with a 16:9 aspect ratio rather than portrait which means a bit of tweaking is needed, particularly with fashion images.

Of course, the images must be clean, and by that I mean no logos, or graphic or text overlays, no collages, and Google is expecting high-quality professional photography. Google has stated that what it calls “catalogue style” photography will not be approved. Understandable given that Visual Site Links on mobile will only appear for ads in the no 1, prime real estate position. It goes without saying that sensitive categories and non-family safe content will not be acceptable as Visual Site Links.

Visual Site Links

Visual Site Links are clearly aimed at one of Google’s big niches – the travel industry. Ad images with a white background will be rejected. So pictures of models wearing a product will be dismissed in favour of what Google describes as “products in use with experiential imagery.”

Early results from beta testers in the US have shown significant performance gains using Visual Site Links, but they note that performance is closely tied to the quality and relevance of the selected images.

As I mentioned earlier, this carousel facility has been available with Facebook ads for some time, but Facebook ads are not shown to people searching for something. Google Visual Site Links are, and that’s what makes them so exciting.

…and a footnote on Ad Extensions – the Price Extension which was launched in July 2016 allowing advertisers to show pricing information against products and services in mobile device text ads has had a make-over. Google is currently rolling out a new swipeable card format for price extensions.

Life is never dull with Google.

Until next time…

David Browne

Author: David Browne

David Browne’s Google AdWords campaigns have been described by the big cheeses at Google HQ as an “art form” – which would make David an artist. David honed his skills at the helm of the very successful Scottish Shutter Company, but having handed over the reins to his daughter and son-in-law he now runs his own digital marketing consultancy and is a co-founder of Barefoot Digital.