AdWords Ad Extensions Guide Bonus: Google AdWords Communication Extensions

December 13, 2018

Recently we did a series of posts on AdWords Ad Extensions, complete with a quick follow-up on how Google decides to display ad extensions and a closer look at the following extensions:

But after concluding the series we quickly realized that we left an ad extension off the list (the downside to pompously titling something “The Ultimate Guide to X” is that you can easily be guilted into pretty much never-ending updates, so be careful with your hyperbolic in-title-adjectives).

One ad extension we missed was Google AdWords communication extensions. This isn’t available for everyone, but it’s a very interesting extension that could have some serious implications for some advertisers, and could become a more important tool in pay-per-click advertising as time goes on.

What Is the Communication Extension?

The “communication extension” is a means of collecting information (i.e., a lead) from a visitor without actually sending them to a landing page – you can grab their data right there in the SERP on Google.com:

Communication Extensions

This can come in a few different flavors, such as:

  • Request a Call – These allow a visitor to input their number and request a call from the advertiser.
  • Request an Email – Similarly, by clicking on a plus box in an ad, the searcher can request an email from the advertiser.
  • Sign Up For a Newsletter – As pictured above, you can simply sign up for an advertiser’s newsletter right in the search result, without ever going to a landing page.

Sounds like a pretty good deal if you can get in the beta, right? You get extra real estate, as with all the extensions, which will almost always improve your click-through rate, and you have an opportunity to convert a searcher without getting into any of that pesky landing page optimization that’s so tricky to get right.

But there are several potential pitfalls with this ad extension – check out PPC Blog’s coverage of the extension and James Svoboda’s excellent, in-depth post as well to learn more about them – but at a high level the concerns include:

  • Call & Email Re-Routing – As both of the above posts point out, Google is “protecting privacy” by masking emails and numbers using Google Voice, and also handling follow-up with a form email. This may not be the experience you want for each of your campaigns.
  • Offer Type – In the screenshot above the offer is a newsletter sign up – but the search is for logo design. While including the newsletter form in the SERP may increase click-through rate, if too many people sign up for the newsletter from the SERP instead of jumping right through to having a logo designed on the spot, you may actually be hurting your ultimate conversion rate to sale.
  • Experience for the Searcher – In many cases, it may be a better experience for the searcher to click through to a landing page to learn more about your company and offer – sometimes longer copy does covert better.
  • Analytic Tracking – As James points out in the post above:

If, like me, you are obsessive with attribution and tracking visitors and conversions within your web analytics platform, then these new extensions are probably going to cause you to reassess your reporting. Since the “Lead” did not first land on your site, First Click and Multi-Click Attribution might not be possible and we may be left with attributing the visit to the Last Click that occurred. Which will probably be during the follow-up correspondence with the lead. This will often result in a click from A) a browser address bar type in direct visit, B) a branded term search engine visit (probably via Google search), or C) a link within an email that will then be attributed as a direct visit or referral from Yahoo Mail (mail.yahoo.com), Hotmail (mail.live.com), Gmail (mail.google.com), Comcast (mail.comcast.net) or some other web-based email service. None of which will correctly tag the original point of reference back to the paid ad and keyword that was generated by AdWords.

Who Should Use the AdWords Communication Ad Extension?

Like most extensions, basically everyone should test it, and use it in the appropriate spots (i.e., where it generates more ROI for you than not using it). Be careful not to get caught up in rolling this out for every campaign possible if it’s not a fit for some of the reasons outlined above, but for most advertisers (particularly those who have already built out sound campaigns in other areas – take the AdWords Performance Grader for a spin to find out if there are problem areas that need more immediate attention) it’s worth contacting Google to activate the beta in your account.

Tom Demers

Tom Demers

Tom Demers is Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content.

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