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Click-to-Message Ads are a new way for advertisers to talk to customers on Google. Google has now brought this extension out of Beta for advertisers to use. But what are they? How should they be used? Why has Google introduced them? We will be exploring all of the hubbub surrounding Click-to-Message Ads, and as always, we will provide you with some takeaway & actionable insight for you to apply to your Paid Search activity.


The hubbub…

Search Engine Land

Inside Adwords

Venturebeat 

MobileMarketing

WordStream

The Drum


WTF are Click-to-Message Ads?

Basically, Google describes them as the following; “Message extensions allow people to see your ad, click an icon and contact you directly by text message. With one tap on your ad, people can contact you to book an appointment, get a quote, ask for information or request a service.” (Google Adwords Help, 2016).

Click-to-Message Ads - PPC hubbub

Click-to-Message Ads – Credit: Google Inside Adwords, 2016

Google have been testing this extension for a number of months now, and it’s obviously proved successful. Of course, we’ve had Call Extensions for a long time but this is really the first ad extension where users can SMS businesses via Google Search.

When someone taps on the Click-to-Message Ad extension, their messaging app will open up with a pre-populated message that you can create. For example, if we look at the above we can see that the user is interested in booking a reservation at their hotel. As the advertiser, you can pre-populate the message with…

“Hi, I’m interested in a reservation. Please text me back”

This can then be sent to your business, at which point you can respond to the user…

“Sure, what dates are you travelling on?”

And so the conversation begins between you and your potential new customer!


Top Tip

PPC hubbub - LightbulbTest Different Messaging – ensure that your pre-populated messages facilitates conversation and doesn’t stop it dead. Remember, this is about driving pre-qualified leads and not about having a chin-wag. Help customers find the answers that they need economically.


Why have Google introduced them?

Competing with Facebook & it’s Messenger App

Could the plans for Facebook Messenger mean that Google are trying to introduce even more ways for businesses to engage with their customers using Google instead of Facebook?

As you may know, Facebook Messenger’s plan is to be an app for everything (Sound familiar Google?). It aims to allow users to engage with businesses via the app, for example; you could text an apparel business that you’d like a Size 9 Nike Shoe delivered to your local store, to which the apparel business could reply and confirm the order has been placed and payment has been taken – all through the app.

click-to-message-ads-facebook-messenger-ppc-hubbub

Facebook Messenger – Credit: Forbes, 2016

“Helping people communicate more naturally with businesses will improve, I think, almost every person’s life because it’s something everyone does”, Mark Zuckerberg (Wired, 2015).

The idea is that everyone get’s locked into Facebook’s eco-system. “The messaging era is definitely now…It’s the one thing that people do more than anything else on their phone…In terms of time spent, attention, retention – this is where it’s happening.”, David Marcus, Wired 2015. This is evident from Facebook’s recent move to launch a unified inbox for businesses on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram (find out more via TechCrunch here).

click-to-message-ads-facebook-messenger-2-ppc-hubbub

Credit: TechCrunch, 2016

This ad extension gives users a new way to engage with businesses through Google Search, and arguably less of a need to engage with businesses via Facebook’s products.

Why use them?

Personalisation

When done properly, Advertising should be highly relevant, targeted, and (ideally) personalised. There is no wonder that programmatic advertising is deemed the future of digital marketing buying. Consumers are screaming for a more natural, conversational and openly communicative way to speak to the businesses they want (and vice versa). What better way to understand consumer intent than to be able to speak to them directly?

Drive leads & pre-qualified customers

Using examples from the Inside Adwords post, some businesses have seen anything between a +40% to +80% higher conversion rates when compared to other ad extensions. There’s no doubt that those clicking on the Message Extensions will help give customers more information, therefore getting them closer to purchasing.

Convenience for the customer

Sometimes calling a business just isn’t convenient for a customer. In a world where everyone is rushed off their feet and will therefore do anything to avoid talking to other humans, it’s no wonder that Google have introduced this ad extension. Customers can now lead the conversations and choose which businesses that they want to communicate with. Giving the power to customers in this way means that they can continue the conversation by the own timetable.

Sounds great right, how do we set them up?

We won’t bore you with the setup, but they are pretty easy. You can find plenty of useful information about this here:

Google Adwords Help

There are also some great Best Practice guides that you can find for Message Extensions below:

Google Adwords Help, Best Practice

What should we expect?

Extra Cost Concerns?

Perhaps customers could be concerned that there is an extra cost involved in texting the business.

Concerns around defining the value of a message

Ensuring that you track how many sales this has led to as a result on a click to the Message Extension will be important for your business.

Questions. 

If your website doesn’t have the answers that users are looking for, you can probably expect a lot of questions from customers. Depending on your business, sometimes you might find that customers might not have the time to even look through your website content; in which case, customers will want to get more information from you. Messaging in this way can help simplify this process and exchanges between your business and the customer.

Small volume, high yield

We don’t foresee that there will be too many clicks on the extension itself, but what we do know is that the intent to purchase for those who do click through will be high.


Summary

As you can tell, we believe that this is a small step of bigger things to come for Google. With the introduction of their Pixel phone, pushing of the Google Search App, Voice Search and AI – there is no doubt that this simple ad extension is a sign of things to come. Bring it on!

Dan Roberts
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Dan Roberts

Founder & Author at PPC hubbub
Dan is a Google Shopping Specialist and was recently awarded Rising Star at The Drum Search Awards for the work delivered for his clients, agency and wider industry. Dan founded PPC hubbub after becoming frustrated with the lack of actionable insight and meaningful points of view for the industry.

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Dan Roberts
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