Both Google and Microsoft have flip-flopped on image extensions over the years. A couple of years ago Microsoft re-enabled the feature and now it’s Google’s turn with image extensions.
What are Image Extensions?
Image extensions display relevant images in your search ads. For the most part on Google, image extensions are currently showing on mobile devices and very infrequently on computers. Microsoft Ads, on the other hand, is running image extensions on all devices. As with other ad extensions, you can assign multiple images at the account, campaign, or ad group level. Google and MS will rotate different images and optimize for which work best for different ads and audiences.
Here are examples from Google Ads and Microsoft Ads:
What is the Benefit of Image Extensions?
These extensions make your ads more visually appealing which in turn increases click-through rates (CTRs) and lowers your average cost-per-click (CPC). This will tend to increase clicks and conversions while also lowering your average cost per conversion.
There will be a fairly substantial competitive advantage here for several months until everybody catches up… don’t miss out!
Who Can Use Image Extensions?
All advertisers have access to MS Ads image extensions. With Google, things are a little more complicated. First, Google is still rolling out availability so not all qualified advertisers will have access just yet. But most advertisers should expect to see them soon.
Also, Google has some requirements that aren’t so clear cut, such as:
- Having a good history of policy compliance
- A Google Ads account in an eligible vertical or sub-vertical. Sensitive verticals or sub-verticals—such as sexual content, alcohol, and gambling—aren’t eligible for image extensions
- A Google Ads account that has been open for more than 90 days
If you don’t see these extensions in your account it’s worth contacting Google support to see if you qualify.
How do I Implement Image Extensions?
In Google Ads, you can upload up to 20 images. You can, and I recommend you use both square (1×1) and landscape (1.91×1) image sizes. Google mostly prefers square images so it’s not a bad idea to focus more effort on those. There are, of course, some general resolution/size and image format requirements. Check out Google’s image extension help article for all the details. If you already have a bunch of images in use for display ads you can probably reuse many of those for image extensions.
One thing you’ll notice pretty quickly is that Google doesn’t mess around when it comes to any text on image overlays. This is strictly forbidden, even if it’s just text in your logo in the corner of the image.
For this reason, you’ll need to use plain product or other images. I strongly recommend coming back to check on the status of your image extensions after 24-hours and again after about a week to see if any are disapproved.
One more note is Google mentions people “clicking” on your image extension. This isn’t really correct since you cannot add specific URLs and your image is not a clickable element of your ad.
Lastly, Google also offers dynamic image extensions. I recommend only activating this feature if you’re unable to scrape together your own images for manual extensions. The reason for this is Google may pull in images from your existing content that aren’t relevant to your ads/offers.
In MS Ads, you can associate up to 6 images per ad group or campaign. Microsoft will run 1 image on mobile ads and up to 6 on computers as a carousel. When you create image extensions you will have the option to set them up as single and/or multi-image.
Unlike Google’s version, Microsoft image extensions are clickable using a URL you specify. Microsoft allows you to upload images in 9 different distinct sizes all the way from (0.93×1) to (1.91×1). Lastly, you can include an image alt text that will be displayed when mousing over the image.
For more details please see the MS Ads image extensions help article.
Can I Import Image Extensions from Google Ads into MS Ads?
Nope, you cannot currently do this. It’s possible that MS Ads may support this in the future, but that would be tricky given how differently the two systems implement the feature.
I’ve harped on this a lot over the years; you cannot simply import your campaign from Google into Microsoft and consider the job done. There are quite a few tweaks you need to make to ensure that your campaigns are fully optimized for the MS environment. Failing to implement these is leaving quite a bit of money on the table.
Image extensions are pretty much a must-have to properly optimize your search campaigns moving forward. Implementation is quick and easy assuming you have access to quality images. Worst case, you can always buy stock images, but best to avoid that if possible.
Don’t forget to come back and check on the status of your images about a day and also a week later. Often these will get temporarily approved and then kicked out later on.