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A Guide to Google Ads Image Extensions

Jennifer Kovalick
Written By
Jennifer Kovalick
Published On
Jul 12, 2021
A Guide to Google Ads Image Extensions

In this guide, we’ll walk you through an overview of image extensions, the advantages to advertisers who utilize them, and how to create them while adhering to Google Ads best practices.

Recently, Google revealed a few case studies that reported an improvement on ROI as well an increase in click-through rate from brands that utilized image extensions in their Google Ads campaigns.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about image extensions and how to use them to their fullest for your Google Ads account!

Table of Contents:

  1. The Birth of Image Extensions
  2. What are Image Extensions?
  3. What are Dynamic Image Extensions?
  4. Why Image Extensions Matter
  5. When Do Image Extensions Show?
  6. Requirements
  7. Guidelines
  8. How to Create Image Extensions
  9. How to Measure Performance
  10. Best Practices
  11. Ready to Take Your Google Ads to the Next Level with Image Extensions?

The Birth of Image Extensions

The impact of the pandemic accelerated years of global e-commerce growth within only a few months. With global lockdowns, consumers were forced to shift to shopping online, which at times can seem as though there are endless options available. The vast variety can create complexities for consumers to choose between similar products or services within Google’s search engine results page. 

Insight from Google’s behavioural science research Decoding Decisions revealed that consumers manage shopping choice complexities in a phase of what they have coined the “messy middle”, which breaks down the decision making process into exploration (expansive activities) and evaluation (reductive activities). Google’s research determined that while consumers are in the “messy middle” they make purchase decisions, which means that it is critical for advertisers to capture consumers’ attention during this process.

The massive shift to online shopping brought intense competition amongst advertisers. In an attempt to combat complexities for advertisers and consumers, Google introduced the image extension beta program in July 2020 to help amplify ads while creating a more engaging shopping experience for consumers. In the past, Google has tested adding images to ads with gallery ads and visual sitelinks, but only a selected few advertisers were able to utilize them. However, Google recently announced some big digital marketing news that as of May 2021, image extensions would be available globally for all advertisers.

What are Image Extensions?

Image extensions allow rich and relevant images of a product or service to appear alongside Search ads. The purpose of image extensions is to enhance text based ads for consumers and drive performance for advertisers. 

Screenshot of a Google Search ad with an image extension

Image extension are clickable and advertisers are charged in the same way that they are charged for a click on a Search ad with or without any extensions

Notably, Google has stated that 85% of people who shop online say product information and pictures are important to them when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from. With image extensions, advertisers globally can speed up consumer action by providing value with a visual component to their Search ads. 

Also, if advertisers opt into search partners on Google Ads, image extensions are eligible to show on YouTube search results. With image extensions on YouTube, advertisers can capture consumers’ attention while they’re researching related videos of their products or services. 

Screenshot of a Google ad with an image extension on YouTube search results

What are Dynamic Image Extensions?

Dynamic image extensions allow Google’s machine learning to automatically select images based on a provided landing page. A best practice for advertisers to follow with dynamic image extensions is to focus on uploading unique image extensions for priority campaigns or ad groups and to opt into dynamic image extensions for a quick way to add images to lower priority ads. Also, advertisers who opt-in to dynamic image extension can review and remove any images selected by Google if they don’t want them to show for their ads.  

Why Image Extensions Matter

Google revealed that on average, advertisers have seen a 10% increase in click-through rate with mobile Search ads that included image extensions. Utilizing image extensions will give advertisers a competitive advantage over others who haven’t added image extensions to their accounts. Those advertisers who are early adopters of image extensions will be more visible and provide more value to consumers who are searching for their products or services on Google. 

Recently, Google provided proof that image extensions can drive performance with case studies for Esteé Lauder and Hugo Boss. Since adding image extensions to their ads, Esteé Lauder saw a 14% improvement in ROI and a 91% increase in click-through rate while Hugo Boss saw a 2.5x improvement in ROI and a 5% increase in click-through rate for responsive image extensions. 

When Do Image Extensions Show?

Similar to other extensions in Google Ads, there is no guarantee that image extensions will show at all times. Google has a variety of factors that contribute to whether an extension or combination of extensions will appear together, which include the following:

Ad Rank

The ad rank includes advertisers’ bids, the quality of the ad and landing page, Ad Rank thresholds, the context of the users’ search query, and Google’s expected impact of the extensions.

Ad Position

On Google’s search engine results page there are limited ad positions to show an ad and even fewer ad positions to show an ad extension. The higher the position of the ad the more opportunity that is given to advertisers to show extensions such as image extensions. 

Other Extensions

Based on the advertiser’s other eligible extensions, Google Ads will typically show the best performing and most useful combination of extensions for the search query.

Requirements

Google requires advertisers who utilize image extensions to meet the following criteria:

  • Account history has been open for more than 90 days
  • Account history is in good standing of policy compliance
  • Account vertical is eligible for image extension (excludes alcohol and gambling verticals)
  • Images must not have text or graphic overlay including brand logos
  • Images must not have too much whitespace
  • Images must not be:
    • sexually suggestive or include nudity
    • collaged or combined in a grid format
    • blurry or unclear
    • skewed or warped
    • cropped in a way that makes the subject hard to distinguish

Guidelines

Google recommends advertisers who want to utilize image extensions to:

  • Upload a maximum of 20 high-quality images related to the ads and keywords
  • Upload PNG, JPG, or static GIF images with square (1×1) and landscape (1.91×1) aspect ratios
  • Upload square (1×1) images with a resolution of minimum 300×300 pixels and a recommended resolution of 1200×1200 and landscape (1.91×1) images with a resolution of minimum 600×314 and a recommended resolution of 1200×628
  • Upload images with a maximum file size of 5120 KB
  • Include images with the most important content in the center 80% of the image

How to Create Image Extensions

Sign-in to your Google Ads account and following these steps:

  1. Click on Ads & Extensions and then click Extensions 
  2. Click on the blue + button and select Image extension
  3. Then select a campaign(s) that you wish to add the image extension 
  4. Click the blue + button next to “Images” and select an image either from:
    1. Create New – select “Scan Website”, “Upload”, or “Recently Used”
  5. Follow the prompts to upload images
  6. Click Save

How to Measure Performance

With this new extension, advertisers must measure performance. Advertisers can track the performance of image extensions in Google Ads by following these steps:

  1. In Google Ads, click on Ads & Extensions and then click Extensions 
  2. On the Extensions page click on Image

The data can help determine which image extensions are driving performance for your business and help to determine decision making for any future additions with image extensions.

Best Practices

  • Minimum Images: Upload a minimum of 3 unique images
  • Aspect Ratio: Upload both square (1 x 1) and landscape (1.91 x 1) images
  • Relevant Images: Provide images that are relevant to users’ search queries, the search ad keywords and text, and the landing page
  • Useful Images: Select images that show unique selling points to inspire user action
  • Quality Images: Focus the product or service to the center of the image and ensure that the background is simple to emphasize the product or service
  • Experiment with Images: Utilize a variety of images with different content themes including product, lifestyle, or creative imagery

Ready to Take Your Google Ads to the Next Level with Image Extensions?

We hope our guide to Google Ads image extensions was helpful. We’ll have your Search ads standing out from a crowd of competitors and increasing your performance in no time!

As an agency, we know that you’re busy running your business! That’s why the #TIATeam is here to help you with all advertising needs. We offer Google Ads management services that utilize Google’s latest features and ensure that your marketing dollars are used the most effectively and efficiently. If you’re interested in more information, give us a shout and check out our Google Ads expertise!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Jennifer Kovalick is a Paid Media Coordinator at The Influence Agency with a specialty in digital advertising strategies to scale businesses. Outside of the office, she is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur who brings her dog, Truffle, almost everywhere she goes!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Jennifer Kovalick is a Paid Media Coordinator at The Influence Agency with a specialty in digital advertising strategies to scale businesses. Outside of the office, she is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur who brings her dog, Truffle, almost everywhere she goes!



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