Have you ever wished that you could take those boring 4 lines of text and add some catalog sparkle with full color photos of your products? It’s a good thing Google thought that was a nice idea, too, and added the product extensions feature to AdWords. If you love the idea of spicing up your PPC Account Management process and text ads with pictures, read on to find out more.
The major benefits of Product Extensions may be somewhat obvious from the paragraph above. Since your text ads will be showing alongside a plusbox containing photos of your featured products—complete with their prices and the ability to click through straight to purchase said items—your ads will absolutely stand out on the page and garner plenty of user interest.
There’s also the potential to increase your conversions significantly, since you’re visually featuring your products and their prices up front, and providing an incredibly easy way for a potential customer buy with little more than a click or two. For retailers with eCommerce sites, Product Extensions should definitely be on your radar and potentially your to-do list. That being said, you should also arm yourself with plenty of information about the logistics and limitations of Product Extensions.
The first hurdle to jump in order to begin using Product Extensions is the activation of a Google Merchant Account. There isn’t a way to add product information in AdWords, and thus the extension is actually the result of linking your AdWords account to your Merchant account so that the product feed housed there will be able to show with your ads. If you already have a Merchant account set up with a product feed you’re ahead of the game. If not, this could take some time.
Product Feed: This is the information that you provide to Google about each of the products that you’d like to feature in your Merchant account. There are a few different formats you can use, although I prefer an Excel document. You’ll be providing a large number of attributes, from numerical product IDs to image links, descriptions, prices, condition, etc. If you have a large number of products you’d like to include, putting this together may be somewhat time and/or labor intensive.
Updates: Whenever you sell out of a featured item or get new items in that you’d like to feature, you’ll need to manually update your feed with Google. Because of this, if you sell a lot of unique products keeping your feed updated could be difficult. Retailers that stock a large number of identical items will have an easier time.
Feature Suggestions for Google –
Considering the relative difficulty of setting up Product Extensions, especially when compared with the other easy-to-activate ad extensions, I’ve often wondered why Google’s system hasn’t provided a more user-friendly way to do this. For example:
- Find a way to integrate a retailer’s inventory system with the product feed provided to Google so that updates are automatic.
- If a feed is provided to Ebay and to Google, make a way for both systems to ‘talk’ to one another, so that if something sells on Ebay it is automatically removed from the Google feed.
- One pipe dream would be to have an interface that makes it extremely easy to provide product attributes to Google, rather than putting together an Excel sheet and sending it in. A tool, perhaps, or form where all attributes are listed (with definitions), and space for your product information and a nice, easy ‘submit’ button.
So, as you can see from the discussion above, the decision to give Product Extensions a try may require more thought and preparation than the other extensions available in AdWords. I do believe, however, that for many online retailers, the benefits of Product Extensions have the potential to far outweigh the challenges.