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Oh good. Now the ads in Google are getting pictures.

We’re all used to seeing images in Google results nowadays. What with “product listing ads” and “image search” (both shown below), as well as video results, the Google results page is a colourful place. Indeed, as you’ll notice, combined with the AdWords advertising to the top and side, there’s not much room for anything else. You could spend tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of time and consultancy building your way to the number 2 position for a generic product, and not even appear on the first results screen for most users, as has happened in this case:

Search for 'flue gas analysers' in Google

Well, it’s about to get worse. Or better, if you like colourful results pages. At the start of the month, Google announced “image extensions” for its AdWords advertisers. That means advertisers will soon be able to show photos alongside their ads, taking up even more space on the page and pushing the free search results down even further. It’s another step towards the entire first page of Google results being taken up by paid adverts, which I suspect is inevitable. As I’ve written before, we can moan all we like about this as manufacturers, but the fact is that customers find adverts relevant and useful, often more so than the “free” results. And of course, Google’s laughing all the way to its mysteriously located offshore bank.

Here’s what ads with “image extensions” will look like on the page:

AdWords image extensions in Google

As an advertiser on Google, you can only put forward the images you want to use and hope that Google’s algorithms choose to show them, and that the response is good enough that they continue to get shown. Naturally, we’re hoping to be testing this out on behalf of our clients over the next few months, but I suspect it’ll work well. However, you’re going to need to be spending enough money to appear at the top of the page to stand any chance of getting them shown.

From a personal point of view, there’s an upside and a downside to this new development. On the downside, for anyone managing an AdWords campaign, it’s more work. On the upside, for us, I’m sure that even more marketing managers who currently still manage their own AdWords campaigns in-house are going to join the exodus and decide that it’s going to be more cost-effective to turn over the day-to-day stuff to specialists like the team here at BMON. And we speak English too. I was extremely amused to read this comment on one website’s coverage of the announcement:

“This is basically their version of PLAs,” says Elizabeth Marsten, Director of Search at Portent Inc., about a a stock photo client. She thinks image extensions will be “great for those industries and niches that were limited to text only because their product or service wasn’t something that had a MPN or UPI.”

Here’s how to ask Tony to come and show you what we can do. Don’t worry, like me, he doesn’t talk exclusively in acronyms.

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