Google has been testing click-to-text in AdWords search ads for several months now. Call extensions have been around for years, but the new message extensions give users another option to connect with businesses that will be especially appealing to the call-phobic and those aiming to avoid getting put on hold, listening to a list of menu options or waiting to get transferred in order to speak to the right person at a business.
When users click on a message extension or icon, their phone’s SMS app will launch automatically.
In the example provided by Google above, you’ll notice the call and message extensions are served in cards below the main ad. That’s a departure from showing just the icons to the right of the ad copy that we are used to seeing. For message extensions, this new format allows advertisers to include a call to action in the extension text.
Advertisers also set up an initial text that pre-populates in the messaging app after a user clicks the extension. Users are able to edit that message before sending, but it’s an opportunity for advertisers to help users save time by anticipating what they’re likely to be interested in. Advertisers that are able to get that right will likely see better engagement rates.
Clicks on message extensions are charged just like a regular click on a headline or extension. Message extensions can be set at the campaign and ad group levels, and they can be scheduled to appear during certain periods of the day. If you run message extensions after hours or on days when the business is closed, you can set expectations in the message text on those extensions. (It’s also possible to use an autoresponder to let users know when to expect a response.)
Reporting on message extensions will be available in the extensions tab, as well as through Click Type segmentation. There’s no clear way of measuring engagement results on message extensions within AdWords. At this point, whether message extensions connect to an individual’s cell phone or to an enterprise messaging platform, advertisers will need to establish their own methods of tracking and measuring value from message extensions.
Along with the announcement, Google has released a best practices guide for advertisers to get started with message extensions. Message extensions will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks.