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Adwords Ad Extensions 101

What The Hell Are Ad Extensions Anyways?

Google is always looking for new ways to display ad$, and what better way than turning a page with 8 ads, magically into a page with up to 28 ads. In a nutshell, Ad Extensions expand on traditional Adwords text ads by adding additional information about your business like Address, Phone Number, Product Images, Prices, Descriptions or Additional Text Links.

There are 3 types of Ad Extensions:

There is no additional cost to the actual Cost per Click for using ad extensions, but I can foresee bidding wars ensuing over non trademarked branded terms and the top position. Below I detail all 3 types of Ad Extensions, how to set them up and how to track them. Ad extensions are currently limited to, Google Maps and some network properties.

Location Extensions

Location extensions attach location-specific information ( i.e. address, city, state) to your Adwords text ads. These extensions are shown only to users searching for or physically near a specific geographical area associated with the ad.

Disney Ad Extensions

On, the Location Extensions are displayed when a user searches for a location specific query, within the target location. Google will match your business locations to a user’s location or search terms and show the address beneath your text ads, along with Plusbox format contact info, Google Map Image and Get Directions link. (See image above for example) There is no additional cost for expansion of the ad, only when a user clicks through to your site. If for some reason Google cannot determine the users IP, they will be served a regular text ad with no Location Extension.

On Google Maps, along with adding the location extensions mentioned above, you can also add an 16 x 16 icon, like a logo and a 125 x 125 Business Image. If you do not choose one, Google will select the default “Map Marker” as your icon. So if you want to stick out, I recommend uploading a custom icon. You will see the difference in your CTR.

One of the benefits for advertisers of having this format is that you won’t be charged for clicks on your ads that expand the “Plusbox” or for displaying your contact info including your Phone Number. You will accrue click costs from the click through from the expanded info box to your site. These enhanced Location Extensions are only for Google Maps and limited to “location specific queries”.

According to Google: “As with Google Maps natural search results, the user’s IP address isn’t considered. For example, if you advertise a hotel in New York, users searching for “New York hotels” may see your ad, no matter where they’re physically located. This ensures that all potential customers will have a chance to see your ad. On Google, customers who live near your business will see your ad.”

As for mobile distribution, Location Extensions will show on regular phones using “Google Maps for mobile” and also on Iphone, Android and Blackberry type phones with Full HTML browsers.

With the launch of the new Location Extensions, Google is now phasing out all of the old Local Business Ads. If you’re currently running Local Business ads, they will continue to run until you try to edit them. Once you edit them, they will become a regular text ad with Location Extensions automatically assigned by Google.

You can target Location Extensions at the Campaign Level or at the Ad Level.

For example, if you have a store in Miami, FL  that’s having a special new years eve sale, you can create an ad for that sale, within an existing campaign and assign a Location Extension, targeting users within a 20 mile radius of the Miami, FL address you provided as your geographic target.

Doing research for clients and for this article, I found that for the most part Location Extensions are being triggered by very specific search queries like ” Miami Florida Ford dealer” or “Disney Orlando, FL Hotels Hilton”.

Something else I noticed is that although Location Extensions are usually limited to top position, proximity trumps position in some instances; like in image below, where the location extension is in Position #2 . I assume because it’s actually a “Miami Ford Dealer” and not an affiliate/lead generation site, which is what’s in the #1 position.

Location Extension Ford

There are 2 ways to add addresses/locations to your Adwords account to use as Location Extensions.

1) The easiest and smartest way to add locations is to sync your Google Adwords account with your Google Local Business Center (LBC) account. Adwords will take all of the verified addresses within your LBC and ad them as available Ad Extensions within your account.  Usually takes about 24-48 hours for new locations or edits in LBC to show in Adwords Extensions.

2) You can also add your addresses manually in Adwords under Ad Extensions (which is under the Campaign Settings Tab). This link explains in detail how to add location extensions manually.

You can also create a specific ad, targeting users within a specific geographic location. The default targeting setting is at 20 miles radius, but you can make adjustments to the targeting radius, if required. You can only enter 9 business addresses manually, once you reach your limit.

Product Extensions

Product Extensions use the Google Plusbox format to allow advertisers to display relevant product images alongside your Adwords text ads.

Currently, Google only allows use of products in Google Merchant, AKA Google Base. It uses the Google Merchant product data to display product descriptions, prices and product titles. Product Extensions will show only on the top #1 position of the Paid Listings and must have high quality scores to show.

Product Extensions

There are 2 choices of destination URLS with Product Extensions, you can use a site landing page or the Google Merchant product URL.

Adding Your Products To Adwords

In order to include your Google Merchant products as Product Extensions beneath your ad texts, you have to include attributes in your Google Merchant product listing. This allows Adwords to sync and match your products accordingly.

Attribute : adwords_queryparam   – Example: aid=450

Attribute: adwords_queryparam  – Example: kw={keyword}

Attribute: adwords_prefer_for_query –  Example: red luggage

Attribute: adwords_redirect    – Example:

For more information visit Google’s help section on Product Extension Attributes.

Product Extensions are not to be confused with Product Listing Ads. Product Listing Ads are created and managed via the Google Merchant Center, NOT Adwords. See below for example.On a sidenote, I find it interesting that via Google Merchant Listings, Regular Search PPC Text Ads and Product Listings, Google is allowing certain advertisers to dominate a SERPS page with up to 3 ads and an additional 4 products on one SERPS page. Target seems to have some sort of special arrangement with Google which allows them to be the dead last ad on 1st page and still show Product Extensions. Just saying!

Product Listing Ad

Target Ads Extensions

Ad Sitelink Extensions

Ad Sitelinks were created as a way to capitalize on existing SERPS real estate and give advertisers a way of increasing CTR and performance all the while giving end users more relevant options on one query. The general idea behind Sitelinks is to make your ad attractive to a wider group of users by adding additional target links beneath the text ads.

Sitelinks Adwords

As opposed to a regular text ad, Ad Extension Sitelinks allow business owners to send users to various landing pages by displaying up to 4 additional links beneath the regular PPC text ads.

Ad Sitelinks use the same text format as the Organic Sitelinks. But unlike Organic Sitelinks , Google gives you a bit more control by allowing you to pre select a pool of 10 Sitelinks per Ad Text. From these 10, Google will select which 4 Sitelinks to display.

According to Google, Ad Sitelinks are more likely to be triggered by unique brand names, rather than other types of search queries. Like the other Ad Extensions, Ad Sitelinks are limited to the Top Ranked ads with Highest Quality Scores.

A couple of points of interest regarding Ad Sitelinks, first off the CTR of the additional Sitelinks do not affect your ad CTR or your Quality Score.

Secondly, by adding “Self Segmenting” links to your ads, you will see a drastic drop in bounce rate. This occurs because if done correctly, sitelinks can be used as a self segmenting tool which leads them down the appropriate funnel. This works particularly well for keywords that represent specific services or products that are used in different ways, by different target groups.

Lastly, prior to mass launch of current version of Ad Sitelinks, Google ran a beta test with select advertisers. Basically, they worked with certain search queries and would rotate between 3 versions of one text ad:

1) A regular Text Ad with No Extensions

2) A Text Ad with Logo and Sitelinks

3) A Text Ad with Sitelinks but no logo

Based on the results from their tests, Google phased out the losing versions and is rolling out the current version of Sitelinks we see now.

Since Sitelinks are editable, you can also use them to highlight special sales, seasonal messaging or other relevant links.


In addition to the visual changes, Google has also rolled out a number of additional metrics to compliment the Ad Extensions within the Report Center. Below is a list of the new metrics available for Ad Extensions.

For Product Extensions, Google has added a lot of new metrics to help measure performance.

Plusbox Impression: Number of impressions with a plusbox

Plusbox Expansion:
Number of plusbox expansions

Offer Click:
Number of clicks on offers

Headline Click: Number of headline clicks that occurred on impressions with a plusbox

Offer Click After Plusbox Expansion
: The number of clicks on offers that occurred after a plusbox expansion

Plusbox Show Rate: Share of impressions that showed a plusbox

Expansion Rate: Share of plusboxes that were expanded

Normalized Expansion Rate:
Number of expansions divided by the number of headline clicks on the product extensions-enabled impressions

Post-Expansion CTR
: CTR for ads when the user expanded the plusbox

Plusbox Headline CTR
: Number of headline clicks divided by the number of plusbox impressions

For Location Extensions and Sitelinks, the reporting options are still very slim. The only real metric available is CTR. It still isn’t possible to see individual ad extension impressions, or compare regular Text Ads Vs Ad Extension Ads performance within Adwords.

Also, as of writing of this post, neither Adwords Editor or Adwords API have Ad Extensions support.


Ad Extensions are a powerful new tool for online Advertisers to add to their arsenal. Although they are not suited for every campaign. Based on my results so far, I would strongly suggest you try your own tests and see what combination works best for you.

Photo Credit: zombikombi1959

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6 Responses to Adwords Ad Extensions 101

  1. SEOguy December 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm #

    This was incredibly informative, I am now caught up. Thanks so much.

  2. Creative Online Marketing January 12, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    Really Great Post,

    I have known about the product & location extensions for a while now. I came across the Ad Sitelinks today and thought I’d stumbled accross something new!

    Also: Tried to find the settings in our AdWords account; as stated by Google they are in Campaign Settings>>Ad Extensions. However I don’t seem to have the option. Any Suggestions? Is there a set criteria that you must meet before this option becomes available?


    Nick @ One Original

  3. Creative Online Marketing January 12, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    I found this on Google’s Webmaster Forum:

    “Currently, the option to set up Ad Sitelinks will only appear for advertisers whose ads meet a certain high quality threshold.”

    Probably why I couldn’t find the settings when creating a new campaign!

  4. adwords April 20, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    Great source of information here! Going to bookmark and visit regularly. Thanks!


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