Why It's Time to Rethink Your PPC Ad Extensions


If you read my PPC column last month, you’re aware that I’m not a fan of Google AdWords Dynamic Structured Snippets, which automatically generate random text into ads. Literally the same week that article was published, Google answered our pleas to put the power back into our hands and Structured Snippets was born.

Google made this announcement in a feature on August 27:

“Over the past few months, many of you have been seeing tremendous success with dynamic structured snippets. And we’ve heard that you sometimes want to customize the information that shows in this format. That’s why today, we’re starting to roll out structured snippet extensions: advertiser-provided structured information that shows with your text ads.”

Yes, of course, we want the ability to customize. Now that we have what we want, we can really get down to business. There are now a total of seven possible manual ad extensions available to advertisers in AdWords:

  1. Apps
  2. Calls
  3. Location
  4. Reviews
  5. Sitelinks
  6. Callouts
  7. Structured Snippets

Instead of slapping up another piece of text, think about your entire ad extension strategy. When looking at your extensions from a bird’s-eye view, you have the opportunity to highlight the most important features, benefits, and actions for what you’re promoting. In the same way websites can get messy with time as pages are added and taken away without regard for the impact to overall site strategy, so, too, can your ads.

Structured Snippets lets you highlight certain aspects of what you’re advertising. Google gave the example of a hotel’s amenities, like free Wi-Fi, a business center, and a fitness club.

Advertisers can choose from predefined categories of products or service aspects, called Headers, and can customize the details from there. In the hotel example, “Amenities” would be the predefined header. As of today, the list of headers to choose from includes:

  • Amenities
  • Brands
  • Courses
  • Degree programs
  • Destinations
  • Featured hotels
  • Insurance coverage
  • Neighborhoods
  • Service catalog
  • Shows
  • Styles
  • Types

At first glance, there appears to be a nice variety of predefined headers for both products and services. Although I’m sure some organizations won’t be able to find what they need, and may find it challenging to use Structured Snippets.

This blog post on WordStream suggests that these predefined headers are limited to those industries with the highest average cost-per-click.

In this sample ad from Google’s announcement, you can see how it all comes together in this retail ad using the header-type “Styles,” followed by a list for custom boot styles:

Most of the seven ad extensions available vary enough that there is no question about what each one is supposed to do. However, Google wanted to be sure advertisers could easily tell the difference between Structured Snippets and Callout extensions. Essentially, Callouts should be used to highlight differentiators, while Structured Snippets focuses on the tangibles. This combines two classic elements of advertising copy: the features and the benefits.  

When revisiting your ad extensions strategy, brainstorm the features and the benefits of the thing you’re advertising before you update your ads. Ideally, you want the two extensions to complement one another.

As PPC professionals, we are constantly trying to keep up with the newest features in AdWords. While it’s tempting and sometimes easier to add things as they come about, at some point we have to take a step back and make sure everything is working together.

For more on the nuts and bolts of the new Structured Snippets extension, head on over to the AdWords help files. You may also get some additional tips from a fellow Search Engine Watch author, Helena Clark, here.


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