CommentaryJan 17th, 2018

Promotion Extensions: Google's New Digital Marketing Superhero


As with all forms of marketing, digital marketing boils down to reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time. As an auto dealer selling commoditized products that are widely available, your ability to target the right audience with the right message at the right time becomes doubly important.

It’s not an oversimplification to say that the primary marketing challenge facing dealers is differentiating themselves in a sea of similar marketing. We’ve known for many years that highlighting your current sales promotions and incentives in your ad copy is one way you can stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, up until now there has been no easy and automated way to do this in your search ads.

Meet the AdWords extension

Google’s new promotion extension in AdWords is a quick and simple way to move special discounts and incentives directly into your ad copy on the search engine. The results are significant. First, by adding timely offers into your paid search copy, you’re immediately differentiating your dealership from the 80% of dealerships that are simply running generic, cookie-cutter ads.

When your ads are different, they stand out. When they stand out, they get higher response rates. Higher response rates in turn lead to elevated positioning and lower relative costs per click.

In short, lots of good things happen when you differentiate. Next, by adding promotion extensions, your paid search ads become more robust. They take up more real estate in the search engine results page (SERP), and they look different than other search ad extensions, adding to their value.

The added exposure and unique look are both increasingly important because more and more search results are being served via mobile devices. Finally, you can easily manage promotion extensions within the AdWords editor to automate start and end dates. This seems like a minor detail, but is a game-changer for anyone managing a robust and comprehensive paid search campaign. This is especially true in the automotive industry, where rebates, promos, and incentives are very date-driven.

The early results are in

We’ve known for a while that including incentives and promotions in your paid search ads can increase your click-through rates (CTR), but just how much impact promotion extensions can make is surprising. Our early experiments with promotion extensions for our automotive clients have resulted in dramatic improvements in CTR.

In fact, several clients have doubled their average CTRs simply by adding promotion extensions to their paid search copy. Although most available ad extensions in Google, including sitelinks and review extensions, have a positive impact on CTR, this impact is usually modest. With promotion extensions, on the other hand, the impact can be immediate and significant.

In one recent example we tested, a paid search ad without sitelinks or promotion extensions performed with a solid 3.8% CTR. By adding sitelinks, we saw the CTR jump to 4.7%. But when we added a compelling promotion extension, CTR shot up to an incredible 8.3%.

If that jump in CTR isn’t enough to make you run to your computer and add promotion extensions to your paid search campaigns immediately, consider that we’re also seeing concurrent improvements in quality score and ad relevancy with the addition of these extensions. Promotion extensions are a fantastic new digital marketing tool for auto dealers. If you aren’t using them, you should be. As always, you should experiment with a variety of promotions and offers to see what triggers the best results for you. For detailed instructions on how to set up promotion extensions in AdWords, visit Google Support

Bob Myhal is the director of digital marketing at CBC Automotive Marketing, one of the country’s leading agencies. Bob has previously held executive positions at a wide variety of e-commerce and technology companies. A noted champion of digital marketing, Bob has presented at numerous digital marketing conferences and workshops.

Authored by

Bob Myhal

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