Can you remember how paid search ads used to look? We sometimes still get a glimpse of a standard search ad which consists of a 25 character headline with two 35 character descriptions underneath, although the display URL is now always just under the headline.
The images below compare the top three ads for the search term “ladies shoes” in 2010 to the top three now. Old Search (October 2010):
New Search (July 2012):
Google has made a large amount of changes to ads since 2010, and there are now many extras that advertisers can place into their ads to make them stand out and increase the click-through rate. The screen shot below shows the search results for the term “running shoes”. This one search shows us many of the developments in paid search ads. I have numbered these to discuss each development.
- Display URL in headline – Google decided to start showing the display URL in the headline some time ago to increase the prominence of brands.
- Sitelinks – these are displayed for the ads shown at the top of the search results. The screen shot shows two different formats for these. The first ad stands out much more because it takes up more space and creates a gap between itself and the ad below. The second ad that contains Sitelinks has three links just under the advert. This does give the ads more real estate on the page, but does not stand out as much as the two ads above it.
- Product Extensions – these can be shown in this format or with actual images of the products and a plus box to open them up. I think images stand out a lot more than this format, but the searcher has to click the plus box to view them, while this format takes up a lot of space without any clicking needed.
- Product Listing Ads – these are completely separate from text ads and can even show at the same time as a text ad from the same account. This creates a lot of dominance of the search results. In my experience these ads can provide significant additional revenue.
- Reviews – showing reviews in your paid search ads can generate a higher level of trust between you and the searcher.
- Description line one in the headline – as this changed a long time ago it feels like it has always been the case, but this change certainly made advertisers have a re-think when creating their ads to make the most of the advertising opportunity.
It only takes a few searches to see how search ads have evolved over the years. Other advert opportunities currently available are location extensions, communication extensions (both shown below), social extensions, phone extensions and mobile app extensions for companies who have a mobile phone app for their business.
This makes ads much more exciting and gives advertisers huge opportunities to make their ads stand out from competitors. There are even more ad extensions coming soon, such as the Live Chat Extension. This has not been officially announced by Google but there are blogs available hinting at its impending arrival to Adwords accounts.