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What are Google AdWords Image Extensions?

Which do you notice first—words or images? Unless the words are uncannily striking, your eye will likely be drawn to the image. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps thinking along those same lines, a few weeks ago Google announced the beta launch of image extensions to Google AdWords. It’s still in the testing phase and its results have yet to be analyzed, but one thing’s for sure: the world of PPC marketing is changing once again. So let’s start with the basics and answer the question what are Google AdWords image extensions?

what are google adwords image extensions

what are google adwords image extensions

What Are Google AdWords Image Extensions?

Quite simply, image extensions allow you to add images to your Google AdWords advertisements. It seems like a small change, but it could have big effects on the way marketers use AdWords. When you use an attention-grabbing image, you’re able to show your product in a whole new way. You can display hard to describe details and stand out from your competitors.

The image extensions will only appear, however, when Google determines that a search warrants it. They try to anticipate what a user wants when they search for a term and react accordingly. So you would be more likely to see images if you searched for “architectural design” than if you searched for “local architecture firms.” According to Google, more than one in six searches provide results with visual content. This includes videos, image search results, and news story thumbnails.

So now that we’ve answered what are Google AdWords image extensions, let’s look at how they’ll work. First of all, you (the marketer) will choose the images. Unfortunately, you don’t get free reign. Google will review the images you select and can turn them down as they see fit. Some common errors encountered so far include not matching the keyword to the image (one marketer’s client couldn’t get an image of dresses to pass because the keyword was runways), including too much white space, and not having the rights to an image. Depending on your advertisements and image choices, you might have to do some trial and error to figure out what Google likes. Generally though, it seems that they are aiming for beautiful images: editorial quality photography that adds something to both the advertisement and the user’s search experience.

The program has been anticipated for a long time, as advertisers know how compelling and persuasive images can be. A photograph of a gorgeous travel destination or a sleek new car is far more likely to garner traffic (and most importantly, conversions) than a few lines of copy.


Image extensions are currently limited to the top spot on AdWords, making it quite pricey, and it’s not always easy to get image extensions to show, even when an ad was already #1. Regardless, this makes that number one spot even more valuable.

At the moment, only 1% of searches are seeing an ad with an image extensions. Users are encouraged to be patient and wait until more testing has been conducted to analyze the effect on conversion rates. Google is expected to continue experimenting with (and hopefully improving) visual ad formats. Their search engine results page has slowly transitioned from a text-based page to a more visually engaging design. The addition of ads and images on Google has sparked debate, however, as some say images make the results page noisier, uglier, and more distracting.

I hope you’ve learned something about what are Google AdWords image extensions. The program is currently running in English globally. If you’re interested in participating, contact us here. And as always, keep following the 417 Marketing blog for more online marketing news and tips.

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