By Charlotte Silveston

Like every preceding year since about 2008, 2017 has once more been declared 'the year of mobile'. Let's take a look at one of AdWords' newest offerings, the message extension.

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It’s hard to underestimate the value of mobiles these days. Whether it’s streaming the latest episode of GBBO, Snapchatting pictures of themselves as dogs, booking plane tickets or catching Pokémon, people use their phones more now than ever before. Yes, mobile phones have certainly come a long way since the brick-like Nokia 5110; in fact, it is alleged that current mobile phones have more power than the computers used for the Apollo 11 moon landing.

To keep up with this trend, in May of this year Google brought out an exciting new beta called ‘Click to Message’. The beta allowed users to open and send a pre-populated text message to the advertiser by clicking on an ad extension. 

Message Extension example

The good news is that this is out of beta and now known as a ‘Message Extension’. These can be applied at campaign or ad group level. For further information about how this extension works, you can visit this section of the Google help centre.

It’s a particularly good fit for advertisers offering a service, especially those that consumers may view as a ‘big decision’ – taking out a loan, for example. People interested in these services may feel more comfortable when the initial form of contact is a text rather than a phone call.

One of our clients runs a business which allows customers to sell their houses very quickly, which we felt might be a good opportunity to test out the new beta. They also had a number set up already for users to text. Performance results for the first three months are summarised below.

Click Volume

These pie charts show the placement of clicks on ads where the CTM extension showed. For both Brand and Generics, users were far more likely to click on the headline of an ad rather than any other part, including the CTM extension.

This means that not many users actually clicked on the text symbol to open a message, but those who did click on the CTM extension were more likely to be searching on generic terms rather than brand terms. It could be the case that users searching on generic terms feel more comfortable texting than those who are already familiar with the brand name.

Effect on CTR

Although the text message feature was not actually used by most users, both Brand and Generics showed an uplift in CTR when the CTM ad extension was shown compared to the overall CTR:

The uplift was more pronounced for Generics campaigns – perhaps the text symbol built additional trust in users who were unfamiliar with the brand name, and this sense of security led to a greater likelihood of them clicking through.

Effect on Conversion Rate

For this client, conversions are recorded when a user calls the company or fills in an online enquiry form. Again, both Brand and Generics showed an uplift in CvR when the CTM extension was shown in comparison to the overall CvR:

Once more, the rise in conversion rate was more apparent in Generics; again, this may be related to an increase in trust with the extension boosting user confidence before they arrive on the landing page, meaning they are more likely to convert.

Conclusion

Although the ad extension served to increase both CTR and conversion rate for both Brand and Generics, the most pronounced uplift for both these metrics was seen in Generics. This trend may have been associated with the more hesitant nature of people searching on generic terms rather than brand terms.

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