In October, Google announced the arrival of Review Extensions, a new feature that enables advertisers to show accolades from reputable third parties in their search ads.
As one of the first agencies to gain access to the beta, we have been putting them to the test, to better understand how influenced consumers are by positive reviews and the impact that this can have on online performance. Here we share some of our insights and learnings of this new feature.
Firstly, let’s take a look at what a Review Extension is:
This new feature from Google allows advertisers to add another line of text below the description lines of their search ad, which is based on a positive third-party review or an award the advertiser has won. An example of a Review Extension is highlighted in the red box below:
Putting Review Extensions up for review:
We carried out tests with Review Extensions with a fashion retail client and a luxury airline. Our insights and results are below:
Our test with a fashion retail client –
Working with a UK fashion retail client, we chose a review that referred positively to a specific range of coats, in this case ‘Trophy Jackets’. We added the review into ads on our campaigns containing ‘workwear’ keywords and launched the campaign. The results were impressive, with the Review Extensions contributing to a staggering +157% uplift in CTR in the first two weeks of going live.
The same Review Extension was also added to ads running in campaigns containing ‘jacket’ & ‘coat’ keywords. Following the campaign launch, CTR increased by up to 95% when the Review Extensions were shown compared to when they were not. Interestingly, even in an ad group focussed purely on coats and winter coats CTR still increased by an average of +8%.
Our test with a luxury airline –
For one of our airline clients, we added a Review Extension of an industry accolade naming them as the best airline in Asia. Interestingly, the Review Extension had much less impact on online performance than for our retail client, and also results varied strongly by user location. The campaign recorded an increase of +7% in CTR in Wales. However consumers in Greater London and Scotland clearly preferred the ads without Review Extensions as CTR decreased by 5% whenever the Review Extensions were shown.
Our top tips to maximise performance with Review Extensions:
Having tested Review Extensions with a number of different clients, we have gained some valuable insights on how to optimise their performance for your campaigns which we thought would be useful to share with you;
- The review doesn’t have to be an exact quote, it can be a paraphrased version to help keep to character limit.
- The character limit is 67 including the name of the source, but not including quotation marks – these are added automatically if you choose the ‘exact quote’ option.
- You must include a link to a ‘respectable’ third-party source – the review copy cannot be hosted on your own website. Furthermore, Google will most likely have a system to check for invalid websites or sites created solely for the purpose of hosting a review, so make sure it is genuine.
- The review should be visible above the fold on the source website.
- Review Extensions are currently only available in English but Google is working on rolling them out globally.
- A review cannot be older than 12 months.
- You cannot see clicks that went through to the source landing page. Although you can segment by ‘This extension vs. Other’ this will always show 0 clicks on ‘This extension’ regardless of whether the external link has been clicked or not.
To sum up:
We believe that Review Extensions are an excellent addition to search ads, especially if a wide range of reviews/awards are available which can be added to different ad groups and updated regularly.
However, a downside is that they currently lack the reporting functionality that we would hope to see in order to adequately measure the impact of Review Extensions. For example, it is not yet possible to get an accurate measurement of how many people click on a Review Extension. In addition, the link from the Review Extension takes users directly to the third party website that hosts the review, rather than the advertiser’s website. As a result there may be potential customers who have never made it to the website even though they clicked on the ad.
Although Google is yet to provide this reporting functionality, they have assured us that the CTR increase gained from Review Extensions outweighs this potential loss of customers, but this is something that remains to be seen with further testing. That said, we believe that they are definitely worth testing out now on your campaigns. We wish you the best of luck with your tests of Review Extensions. Good luck and do contact us if you would like further advice on optimising this new feature!