Google Ad extensions are game changing.1 There are very few, if any, true guarantees that a digital marketer can make regarding performance metrics — but I can definitively state, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that if you utilize ad extensions appropriately, you will see remarkable improvement. Not maybe. Not hopefully. You will see improvement in your digital advertising efforts. Want to know the best part? They have no additional cost.

Defining an Ad Extension

Ad Extensions are additional features, links, or enhancements included in conjunction with a paid search or display ad. Google first unveiled this industry leading feature with Ad sitelinks in November of 2009.2 Sitelinks are additional deep links that are shown below an ad and direct users to relevant parts of a website. Today, there are 10 incredibly powerful ad extensions available to all advertisers, and several in Beta exclusive only to Google Partners.3

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The power of an Ad Extension in advertising

Advertising is defined as “to call the public’s attention to your business, usually for the purpose of selling products or services, through the various forms of media.”4 And to expand upon that, it is also important to understand the purpose of advertising:

  • Make customers aware of your product or service
  • Convince customers that your company’s product or service is right for their needs
  • Create a desire for your product or service
  • Enhance the image of your company
  • Announce new products or services
  • Reinforce salespeople’s messages
  • Makes customers take the next step (ask for more information, request a sample, place an order, and so on)
  • Draw customers to your business

Ad Extensions are so powerful because they are purposely designed to improve your digital advertising. They can help you accomplish all your goals: driving more traffic and qualified leads, generating more phone calls, and ultimately improving your efforts across the board.

The benefits that Ad Extensions can provide for your dealership

With nearly a dozen active Ad Extensions available, and several others in beta, it is crucial to have a fundamental understanding of the capabilities available at your fingertips. Let’s examine the different Ad Extensions and how you can use them to generate more traffic and more leads at your dealership.

1. You can display more landing pages

Since 2009, sitelink extensions have been the extension of choice for digital marketers. The ability of displaying up to four additional landing pages meant that five unique pages could be featured in one ad. Google reported that on average the clickthrough rate was 30% higher for ads with sitelinks than those without!5 Also, in February of 2012, Google introduced enhanced ad sitelinks. This enhancement added two description lines below each sitelink, essentially turning one ad into five! One case study found that enhanced sitelinks had 47.5% more clicks, and 39.7% more conversions, when compared to similar non-upgraded sitelinks.6


How to most effectively utilize the sitelink extension

Well for starters, get them implemented ASAP. If you are already utilizing them, kudos to you. If you are not, time to jump on the bandwagon. Ideally, you will create sitelinks for the top pages of your website that you would like to drive traffic towards, excluding the ad landing page. Top pages may include: highest priority models, new inventory, used inventory, contact page, service, specials, etc. Below each of the pages, two lines of description text should be added that highlight your respective value added propositions. Include the most relevant, user-friendly information as possible.

2. Shoppers can easily contact your dealership

Phones are akin to umbilical cords for a dealership. They are a critical means of day-to-day operations. Luckily, the Click-to-Call feature first appeared in paid search ads with location extensions, back in January 2010.8 Today, they are available separately and known as call extensions, which include robust capabilities such as ad scheduling, conversion tracking, and call-only campaigns.


How to most effectively utilize the call extension

It is estimated that there are currently over 2.32 billion smartphone users worldwide. Coupled with the fact that mobile traffic is on the rise, it has never been more critical for advertisers to have an online mobile presence. Call extensions can be scheduled around your business hours. You also have the ability of displaying unique numbers for individual campaigns, so you could have one for sales and another for service. By tying in conversion tracking, you can also keep track of which keywords and ads are generating the most phone leads.

3. You can feature a specific product or service

The structured snippet extension was released in August of 2015.10 These ad extensions were designed to highlight a specific aspect of a product or service. One extremely successful story came from Vodafone, which saw clickthrough rates increase up to 100%!11


How to most effectively utilize the structured snippet extension

Structured snippets have many beneficial implications for dealerships. Let’s assume that you have a Toyota dealership. You could use a snippet listing your top models: Corolla, Camry, Avalon, Tacoma, etc. Or you could use a snippet to promote a specific class of vehicles. Additionally, you could utilize structured snippets to promote offered services, whether seasonal or year-round.

4. Shoppers can immediately get directions to your dealership

In today’s digital-centric society, paper maps have become a thought of the past. The go-to method generally involves asking Siri, Cortana, or similar voice search driven technology, or by performing a quick Google search. Location extensions have been around for a while now, but as local search continues to climb at an explosive rate, their importance has grown in parallel.13 These extensions are shown below a paid search ad, and include information pulled from a linked Google My Business page. Information includes store hours along with an address, and the ability to click on the ad to get directions to the business from your current location.


How to most effectively utilize the location extension

Well, in order to get location extensions displaying, you will first need to have a Google My Business page. Creating a page is free and it will allow your dealership to have additional online exposure. Once the page has been created, you can link it up with a Google AdWords account. From there the extensions can be enabled at the account or campaign level. By analyzing your AdWords data, you will be able to see which campaigns are driving the most customers into your dealership. Additionally, one of the added benefits of having a Google My Business page is location data, including heat maps of geographic searches, and customer engagement metrics in relation to time and days of the week.

5. You can list your competitive advantages

Every dealership has something special that sets them apart from the competition. Commonly, these are referred to as competitive advantages. Callouts, first introduced in September of 2014, allow advertisers to include additional text that highlights specific information about products or services.15 These extensions are so powerful, because not only do they expand the size of your search ad, but also because you can include up to ten different call-outs, of which up to four will be displayed at any given time.


How to most effectively utilize the callout extension

Auto dealerships should utilize callout extensions to highlight value-added incentives that make your dealership unique. Are you family-owned and operated? Call it out. Been around for 50 years? Call that out. Maybe you want to get more specific at the make or model level. Let’s suppose that you have a campaign that is promoting a Ford Escape. You could include callouts that highlight specific features that separate Escapes from other comparable models, such as: Rear-view camera, LED tail lamps, 2.5L Engine, etc. Callouts can be utilized in so many variations, so it’s important that your strategy resonates accordingly.

6. Shoppers can direct message your dealership

The message extension, released on October of 2016,17 was inevitable in a day-and-age dominated by people with their noses buried in their smartphones. Not only is smartphone usage on the rise, but a Nielson study found that smartphones hold a consumers’ attention nearly twice the time as television. Additionally, another study found that 75% of Millennials preferred texting compared to talking on their phones.18


How to most effectively utilize the message extension

Any dealership should seriously consider implementing message extensions as part of their mobile strategy. You will need to use a phone number that can actively receive texts, so no call-routing or 800 numbers. Ideally, you would use a sales manager for any new, used, or pre-owned related inquiries, and a service manager for any service related inquiries.

With these extensions, you can pre-populate a text message, so all a user must do is click on your ad, and then click send from their mobile device. It’s important to remember that speed and convenience are crucial here. Users will anticipate a quick response, and will expect to continue the communication via text. Having responsive customer service will allow you to nurture these customers and most importantly schedule their in-house appointments, without any verbal communication needed.

So many available features… at no additional cost?

So, I know what you are probably thinking, “you’re telling me that I can use all these amazing features, without paying anything extra? Without increasing my ad spend? I can get more traffic and more leads, by just implementing a few small changes?” In short, yes, you absolutely can!

There is no additional cost to use ad extensions, you simply will pay the same per click as you would have without them. However, you should expect to pay less per click. Why? It comes down to the Ad Rank, which is essentially determined in microseconds every time a user types in their search query. One of the ranking factors for ad rank is relevance, and relevance is boosted by utilizing ad extensions. Google has flat out stated that the expected impact from ad extensions and formats will factor into Ad Rank.20

So, let’s recap. Using ad extensions appropriately will affect your quality score (positively). Improving your quality score means that you should pay less per click. Paying less per click means that you will get more clicks for your budget, and getting more clicks for your budget (with all else remaining equal) means that you will generate more leads, at a lower cost. Ad extensions are a digital no-brainer, so what are you waiting for? Get them implemented today!