The future of search is image based, and this can be seen with image extensions rolling out of beta. We’ve seen both Google and Microsoft test variations of image extensions over the last few years, and it seems these are now here to stay. These should be available across almost all* Google Ads advertisers this summer! We’re excited to see image extensions across the mobile search engine results page and want to share what we’ve learned from testing these while they were in beta. For information on what image extensions are and how to implement them, check out this blog.

*Sensitive verticals or sub-verticals (for example, sexual content, alcohol, gambling) aren’t eligible for image extensions.

Who should test image extensions?

Everyone! Image extensions are a great way to make your ad stand out and pre-qualify the search click by giving the searcher a snapshot of what they should expect to see on your website. While we’ve seen more eCommerce advertisers quickly adopt image extensions, we are also seeing success using them for B2B advertisers.

How are they performing?

To date, we’ve only seen image extensions show up on average for 19% of mobile impressions where they are eligible for MT clients participating in the beta. We expect this to increase now that Google has rolled these out of beta. We also expect the placement availability to increase now that Google has started showing dynamic images on organic search.

We have found that image extensions tend to have a more significant click through rate (CTR) impact on non-brand campaigns. Image extensions also tend to outperform dynamic image extensions for CTR lift. The stronger performance on image extensions is likely due to increased relevance and quality control with manually choosing which image to show.
Image extensions CTR lift in brand versus nonbrand

How should you use image extensions?

The decision for whether to apply image extensions at the ad group level or the campaign level should be based on how granular you have set up your campaign structure. You should go as granular as needed to make the image relevant to the search. For example, if you have a single search campaign with separate ad groups for pants, shorts, and skirts it would make sense to utilize different images and apply these at the ad group level.

If you have the capacity and available ad creative, we also recommend testing multiple images per extension. This will allow Google to optimize and rotate in the best image for each search. Google recommends a minimum of 3 unique images.

What makes an effective image extension?

We typically see stronger engagement with individual product shots over lifestyle images. We recommend testing to see if this holds up for your brand. We’ve found that the most effective image extensions are simple and centered on the core product. The image should make it very clear to the user what you sell or provide on your website. The most successful images have no background to blend more naturally into the native SERP and let the product stand out.

Example of image extension showing product with white background for Adidas

We expect to see the SERP become increasingly visual-focused beyond even image extensions. Microsoft Ads has already jumped on board as well, creating new Multimedia Ads for search that utilize image and video. Now is the time to start testing with image extensions and understand what creative will best engage your target audience on search.

If you are looking for help with image extensions, contact our team!