As part of Google’s push towards a mobile-first search experience, the tech giant is rolling out its latest AdWords feature: message extensions. Now users can click your ads to send you a message directly from their smartphone.

Google says the new extension drives an entirely new kind of conversion from your ads and increases overall CTRs. That all sounds good to us, but let’s take a closer look at message extensions before we get too excited.

 

What exactly are message extensions?

Message extensions have a lot in common with call extensions, in the sense they allow users to communicate with you directly from your ads. They can also show in the same ad with call extensions, giving users the option to choose between calling or sending a text message.

And when both show in your ad they even look very similar:

click-to-message-ad

There are some key differences, though. Google says the number of people sending messages is steadily on the rise, while phone calls are declining. So this marks an interesting shift in how people interact with you via ads.

However, what’s important here is that you’re giving users the choice. Some people will want to speak to a member of your team in-person; others will prefer to text.

It’s not only a question of preference either. Some situations are better suited to one form of communication or the other. People aren’t going to apply for an insurance policy via SMS but they might like to get a quote by speaking to someone directly, for example.

Meanwhile, booking a table at a restaurant or hotel room is one type of conversion message extensions can make easier for users.

 

Message extensions bring another CTA to your ad

Another key thing with message extensions is how customisable they are. First of all, you get to choose the text that appears with them – allowing you to place another call to action in your ad.

This is a pretty big deal for us. We’re looking forward to creating highly focused campaigns, specifically designed to generate text and call inquiries. With message extensions we’ll be able to build highly focused ads with a concise message and conversion goal.

The key will be making your conversion clear throughout: something like booking a reservation or tickets to an event. From there users have the choice of clicking through to your site, hitting the call button or sending a text message. At the same time your message extension CTA will reinforce the overall message of your ad and create an added sense of urgency – even if they don’t choose to send the message.

 

Set your predefined message

Sending messages to brands directly sounds great – but there’s a problem. Typing on mobile sucks and expecting users to write their own message is asking a lot. Luckily, Google is no amateur when it comes to mobile user experience and it’s got you covered.

With message extensions you define the message users send to you and it automatically appears in their messaging app as soon as they click the extension. All users need to do is hit the send button and everything else is done for them.

Once again, this gives you space to define your own message that’s consistent with your ad. We can’t reiterate how important this consistency is, so keep this in mind when you define your messages. From the end user perspective, this makes the feature incredibly usable too. Without it, we think it would be a pretty unattractive prospect for them so it’s reassuring to see Google get this spot on.

 

So that’s our first look at the new message extensions in AdWords. It’s another interesting addition to the ad extension family and we’re looking forward to testing this one out in the wild.

If you have any thoughts on the new feature or need some advice on how to use it in your campaigns, reach out to us on social, fill out the form below or give us a call (or text!).