Image Extend Your Ads: Google Introduces New Image Extensions

July 22, 2021

2021 Update: As it turns out, Google *tried* to roll out image extensions in 2013 but it didn't fully work out. As of 2021 they're in full working order and available to all advertisers. Check out our Easy Guide to Google Ads Image Extensions to learn more!


Google has revealed a new venture into ad extensions. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you image extensions. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then AdWords users have certainly got a lot more room to create compelling text ads now.

Image Extensions

In Google’s announcement post, they talk about how this extension will be great to show off things like car models, jeans and even different shades of eye shadow. There is a lot more that we could use this extension for. Service-based companies will be able to highlight their work, and, as in the above example, hotels will be able to showcase their facilities. We may even see some companies using their logos – it would be very interesting to see the results of this in comparison to other methods of image ads.

Obviously any company with a visual angle will benefit from this – however, for e-commerce websites this feature will not work as well as product listing ads, purely because product listing ads display images based on the search query, whereas image extensions are likely to have the same usability as its peers, which means we will only be able to have images to represent an ad group, again reiterating the importance of tightly themed ad groups. PLA's also include price information.

But the image extensions could be great for non–e-commerce companies. Since lead gen businesses don’t have products to include in PLA’s, they can now at least include super-clickable images.

See No Evil – The Upside of Image Extensions

The best part of image extensions is that instead of telling someone how amazing your product is in 95 characters, you can just show them in one image. This way, users can decide for themselves whether they are interested or not and hopefully click through to your site, already sold on your image and description. It is also likely to reduce wasted clicks as you can show the user a lot of representative information about your product/service/company so if they aren’t interested they won’t click. Qualifying your visitors gives you better ROI from paid search.

Potential Disadvantages of Image Extensions

Even though there are all these great points for image extensions, there are also a couple of bad points. The first most noticeable bad point is it looks as though you have to trade in a description line to have an image extension. Seems like a fair trade, however there is less room to describe your site or product. We could potentially see a lot of ads that seem more like captions.

There is also the possibility that users are going to be unaware of what these new ad variations are, which could lead them to click onto standard ads. If this is the case then we could be scaring off of potential business. (But given the performance of PLAs compared to standard text ads, this is unlikely.)

The worst problem that I can foresee is for position 2 and 3. Position 1 will cost the most, however to a lot of people it will look as though all 3 images belong to the text ad accompanying it. This means that if you’re not paying top dollar, then you could be aiding your competitors.

I was also worried about the standard text ads, but they are said to still appear, just below the image ads. The image ad extension section will show 3 different images and they all have their own individual text ads that are displayed once you hover over the image.

The Low Down

The beta is now available for U.S. customers. Unfortunately us Brits will have to wait until the end of the year or beginning of next year to start using it, so happy experimenting, my American friends.

So since American customers have the honour of testing out this wonderful new feature, I will sit back and watch your findings. I myself can’t wait until I get the chance to experiment with image ads, but all in all it looks like a great addition to the extension collection and just another example of how paid search is developing for the better.

This is a guest post by Lewis Austin, the PPC & Social Media Manager at Absolute Digital Media. Working on a variety of campaigns within our paid search department, Lewis is currently studying to become a Google AdWords Certified Individual, extending his knowledge within the AdWords and Analytics platforms. When he’s not keeping up to date with Google’s latest blogs, news and webinars, Lewis loves watching comedies and relaxing with the odd video game.

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