White Papers

The Complete Breakdown of Ad Extensions

Written by Aaron Childs and Briana Ogle




This white paper is a meaningful introduction and breakdown of AdWords ad extensions for novice digital marketers looking to improve their PPC knowledge. However, it is also for the skilled PPC expert who needs a refresher.


There is a lot of information to keep up on in a PPC job. The best way to accomplish that is to partially rely on others in the industry to write about the different aspects that are constantly changing.


This white paper lists and details the various types of AdWords ad extensions currently available and their benefits. It is a complete breakdown in an easily digestible format that can be referenced again when it’s needed. While some things in this article will change over time, the basic description and benefits of each extension will remain the same.


The goal is to present essential information on AdWords ad extensions in a summarized manner to an audience that needs PPC resources readily available to start or continue their efforts in PPC. By the end of this article, readers should have a working knowledge of ad extensions and be ready to implement as many as possible to start obtaining the benefits.



Campaign or Ad Group Level Extensions


Call Extensions

Call extensions allow customers to click and call directly on mobile devices without having to go to the website. However, the customer still has the option to click the ad and go to the website if they choose to.


Clicks on a call extension cost the same as a click on the ad headline, unless you have a bid modifier set, which is only available in the new AdWords interface. Calls can be tracked separately or as conversions, and you have the option to set the minimum required call length for it to count. If your business is not open around the clock, you can schedule call extensions to show for specific hours of the day.


Call extensions are especially beneficial for companies that value calls more than form submissions. A B2B SaaS company, for example, might have twice the conversion rate if they can get customers on the phone with a sales representative. If the customers fill out the website form, it may take two to three more touch points before they can get that customer to convert.


Call extensions are also great if a company’s mobile site is not easy to navigate or has slow load times. Local companies can benefit from these extensions as well.



Callout Extensions

Callout extensions are a line of additional text highlighting benefits the company offers. They are used to call out items that would not necessarily be included in the ad copy, such as free returns, price matching, no installation fees, 24/7 support, etc.


These extensions are not clickable links. Therefore, they aren’t trackable. However, it is an opportunity to showcase unique benefits that the competitor may not offer. It is essentially additional ad copy, especially since AdWords recently changed how it appears on mobile. It is now in line with the ad copy text instead of below it.



Structured Snippet Extensions

Structured snippets are similar to callout extensions but have a more “structured” approach. For these, you must choose a predefined category (called a header) and add supporting details. Again, these are not clickable links but ways to highlight specifics. They give the ad more context and relevancy for the user. There are 13 headers to choose from. A few examples include amenities, types, models, and brands.



Sitelink Extensions

Sitelinks are ad extensions that allow you to include more links to your website in your ad at no additional cost. These additional links allow you to direct people to different pages across your website. You can use these to direct people toward specific products, special sales you have running, offerings unique to your business, or any other thing your find important that you want people to know about.


Sitelinks will show beneath your regular search ad on the search results page. However, they might show differently depending on a number of factors, which may include the ad’s position on the page or the device the ad appears on. On computers, sitelinks will either show all on one line or can potentially take up two lines of your ad. Computers have the ability to show two to six sitelinks. Mobile ads will show them all on the same line in what is typically known as a carousel format. Users can swipe on the sitelinks to view them all. Mobile can show up to eight sitelinks.


As mentioned, sitelinks are free to add, but you have to pay for the clicks. In an ad, clicks on sitelinks cost the same as clicks on the headline. Google also lets us know that you will not be charged more than two clicks for each ad impression. ”Duplicate clicks” is a feature Google utilizes to ensure you’ll only be charged once if someone clicks on more than one link in your ad in quick succession.


Sitelinks are also a great way to add real estate to your ad. They will take up more space on the search results page. This is a good way to draw attention to your ad and take space away from your competitors.


Let’s look at a good example of sitelink use below.



ThinkGeek has four sitelinks showing beneath their ad. They have done a good job of highlighting different aspects of their business. “Star Trek Gear” is probably a popular line of products and draws a lot of revenue for them. “Exclusives” tells people they have something unique that won’t be found anywhere else. “Clearance” says they have a sale on certain items and captures the attention of potential bargain hunters online. Finally, “Free” tells people about a free t-shirt with purchase. If you have a deal that increases the perceived value per order, like this one, it might be a good idea to highlight it.


The text underneath each section are known as enhanced site links. AdWords allows you to add mini descriptions to each site link, so you can provide even more information to your customers. This is a great way to take up even more space on the search results page.


So, what are the benefits to sitelinks other than providing more links? On average, Google reports that the presence of sitelinks will boost CTRs (click-through-rate) on your ads by 10-20% and 20-50% on branded terms. Additionally, enhanced sitelinks can increase CTRs even more. Increased CTRs get more people to your site and help improve your quality score, which could get you a higher ad rank while paying less per click.



Promotion Extensions

Promotion extensions are valuable additions to ads for ecommerce and online sales. These extensions grab the attention of the user and entice them with a sale.


They promote sales using language that specifies savings in terms of percentages or dollar amounts. These extensions are links and can be directed to any URL of choice. They can also be scheduled to run by date, day of week, and time of day.


As a bonus, you have the option to select a special occasion from a drop down. It would appear as bolded text with the promotion. Labor Day could be a special occasion, for example.




Price Extensions

Price extensions are a great ad affixment for several types of services, especially ecommerce and online sales. It is an additional opportunity to showcase a select group of products, items or service offerings. These extensions take up more page space than any other extension offered and potentially reduces the amount of clicks required for a conversion.




Message Extensions

Message extensions are a great way for advertisers to directly interact with potential customers through text messages. The message extension will appear on the search results page next to the advertisers normal search ad. Clicking a message extension opens the SMS text messaging app on the user’s phone with a pre-written message for the product. You are charged the standard cost per click when someone clicks on your message extension, the same as if someone clicked on your headline.





As you can see in the example above, The Westin in Times Square utilizes message extensions to help drive bookings. If your business relies on reservations, appointments, bookings, or something similar, then message extensions might be an option to consider. Message extensions could also be a good complement to call extensions for those users who would prefer to contact you through a text rather than call.



Affiliate Location Extensions

If your business sells products through retail chains or other businesses, then affiliate location extensions could be an option to consider. These extensions help people find the products they are searching for in nearby stores. So, if you sell shoes and someone searches for your brand, you might want to give them an ad that points them to the nearest stores that sell your shoes. Affiliate location extensions show with your ad on the search results page. When clicked, the user will see the closest stores that sell your products with the store address or a map.




Account Level Extensions


Location Extensions

Advertisers with brick and mortar stores might consider using location extensions to influence customers. Location extensions can help potential customers find where your stores are located by providing an address, map, or the distance to your business along with your ad. When someone clicks on these extensions, they can get more detailed information about where you are located on the location page. Location extensions have the ability to show your phone number along with a call button, so people can click to call your business. Location extensions can show on the Google search network, the display network, YouTube ads, and search partner sites like Google Maps.



Auto Zone uses location extensions to let users know where the closest store is. They have made sure to include the address, which opens Google Maps with the store’s location when clicked. They also included the phone number and store hours. The more detail you can provide in your location extensions the better.



Review Extensions

Review extensions show a third-party’s positive opinion of the brand or company. It can be a direct quote or even a paraphrased version, but Google must approve it by verifying a link. There are several guidelines that must be followed in order to have the review text approved, and those requirements can be found here. Now, instead of utilizing reviews in ad copy, they can be added in addition to ad text.



App Extensions

App extensions are similar to call extensions because they give the user an option. Users can click the ad to go to the website or click the extension to go to the app store. The extension clicks are tracked, and the statistics can be broken down by campaign, ad group, and ad level.


When a user clicks the extension, it directs them to the app’s description in the app store. Also, it automatically detects the correct app store based on the user’s device. If app downloads are not the primary goal, but are still important, then app extensions are useful.




Automated Extensions


Automated extensions give AdWords control of your extensions. AdWords uses algorithms to predict when a certain ad extension is going to improve performance based on the users search. It will automatically create an ad extension and display it with your ad. Extensions available for automation include call extensions, sitelinks, structured snippets, and location extensions. Three extensions are always automated. Those include seller ratings, previous site visits, and consumer ratings.


Automated extensions are a great time-saving tool for the marketer who does not have time to develop a full strategy for their ad extensions across an account. Just remember, you have no control over what Google is going to show to the user on the search results page. As with all things AdWords, monitor performance and make adjustments if the automated extensions are not helping you meet your goals. You can always opt in and out of specific automated extensions.


Seller Ratings Extensions

Do you provide excellent customer service? Do you want searchers to know about your excellent service? If so, seller ratings are for you. Seller ratings are automated ad extensions that use a five star scale. They show the quality of your service and satisfaction of your customers. These extensions are free and appear with your normal search ad. You’ll never be charged for seller ratings.


Where do these ratings come from? AdWords uses several sources like Google Customer Reviews, StellaService, shopping reviews from your website, and a number of independent review sites. Some of criteria for ratings include shipping, delivery, returns, and overall customer service.


GoPro utilizes the seller rating ad extension in their ads. This lets potential customers know that GoPro is a legitimate business that can be trusted. 4.7 stars out of 5 is a very high rating and is sure to help convince searchers to click on their ad over their competitors. Plus, the added real estate and gold color of the stars helps the ad stand out on the search results page.



Previous Visit Extensions

Previous visit extensions are one of the automated ad extensions that you can utilize or opt out of. These extensions will automatically show beneath your ad and tell the user how many times they have visited your site. They only show on desktop and laptop devices, and the searcher must be signed into a Google account. The idea behind previous visit extensions is to remind the user that they have been to your site before and encourage them to return.



Consumer Rating Extensions

Consumer rating extensions are another automated extension. They highlight industry-specific ratings for your business, which are based on consumer ratings. These ratings can highlight things like prices, selection, fees, customer service, discounts, ease of bookings, and much more. These ratings are displayed on a “rating/10,” which means 1/10 is the worst and 10/10 is the best. Again, these are automated extensions requiring no setup on the advertiser’s part. You just have to opt in to them.



Here we can see that Southwest Airlines is utilizing consumer ratings extensions. Southwest has an excellent consumer experience and these extensions help showcase it. They have 10/10s in every category listed. This is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition and make your product look more desirable. Plus the added line these extensions take up ad more real estate to your ad.





AdWords ad extensions are all about helping the advertiser provide more information to people searching on Google. The number of relevant extensions you’re running can greatly affect the appeal of your ads. The more appealing the ad, the more likely it is to receive clicks. As we know, clicks help lead to sales, leads, conversions, bookings, or whatever you are offering. If you want your ad to stand out on the search results page, you need to be utilizing ad extensions. They give your ad greater visibility and help set your business apart from your competitors.


Ad extensions have been proven to increase CTRs significantly. However, increased traffic on your site isn’t the only benefit of higher CTRs. CTRs are a significant factor in calculating your quality score. Good CTRs are sure to boost your quality score, which means Google is going to favor your ad more often resulting in higher positions and cheaper costs per click.