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Promotion Extensions vs. Promotional Ad Copy

Which do I use?


by Tim Peyton – 

Promotion Extension sample

Promotion Extension Example

For ecommerce marketing campaigns, deals and promotions are useful tools to drive new consumers and remain competitive throughout the year, especially during the competitive holiday season.

With the new promotion extensions released by Google AdWords ahead of Q4 2017, we set up a test to discover how we could strategically align promotional ad copy and the new promotion extension to best serve our clients.

What are advantages/disadvantages of each ad unit type (promotional ad copy vs. promotion extension)?

Many clients, agencies and digital media managers believe that creating new ad copy for each offer provides an advantage when placed within the headline 1 or 2 content lines. The perceived advantage is attributable to the fact that headline 1 and 2 are shown larger and bolded compared to other description lines and extensions for the ad unit.

The inherit disadvantage of creating new ad copy is the need to build historical performance history, which is part of Google and Bing’s algorithms for ad rank. For new ad copy – and existing ad copy in which the final URL is changed, resetting ad history – the lack of historical ad rank is known to result in higher average cost per click (CPC) and/or a lower average position compared to more seasoned ad copy results.

The advantage of using the promotional extension is the direct opposite effect of changing ad copy. Adding the extension does not cause the historical ad rank score to reset or need to be rebuilt; however, some may argue that the promotional extension is not prominent enough in the advertisement landscape to influence the same level of click-through rate (CTR) lift comparatively.

Q4 Ad Copy vs. Extension Test Set-up

With December driving over 50% of revenue for one particular client and various promotions throughout the month being a critical part of driving results, we choose to test, compile results and develop a strategic plan on how to approach promotions. The test focused on October and November, driving more recent data results and executing a strategy in December to help drive year-over-year growth for this most crucial period.

Results and Final Thoughts

What we found was that promotional ad copy drove a stronger click-through rate from the ad to the client’s website, but also a lower conversion rate, leading to less overall conversions (transactions).

The new promotional extension also improved CTR, although to a lesser extent than the promotional ad copy, while the conversion rate remained consistent, resulting in a greater likelihood of conversions (transactions).

In December, the strategy was to reserve promotional ad copy to serve alongside non-brand and competitor conquest campaigns only. The strengths for promo ad copy aligned more with higher-funnel search tactics, which are focused more on driving new site users. While less likely to convert, this built brand awareness and developed a retargetable audience for users who meet desirable on-site behaviors. The promotion extension showed a lift in click-through with consistent conversion performance for both promo and non-promo ad copy. It was also selected to serve with both upper- (non-brand/conquest) and lower- funnel (brand/remarketing) search campaigns.

The result was December 2017 drove our highest single month of revenue for this client. We were able to improve year-over-year revenue by +19%, and the success in December helped solidify meeting the overall yearly revenue growth goal.

In conclusion, we found that both the promotional ad copy and the new promotion extension have unique strengths. Depending on the overall marketing approach, vertical and/or audience, these strengths may alter which approach we recommend. We suggest you test your accounts and allow the results to drive your promotional strategy setup.

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