Three Hot New Google AdWords Search Ad Formats

by John A. Lee

November has been an exciting month for Google AdWords advertisers. Google announced and/or unleashed three additions to the AdWords ad format arsenal: Product Listings, Product Extensions and SiteLinks. While the first two are most appropriate for advertisers of retail products, the SiteLinks program is a potential gold mine for all advertisers! Let’s dig into each one. 

Product Extensions

If you pay attention to search engine news, Product Extensions is a feature you’ve likely heard of before. Originally called the “AdWords Product Plusbox“, this feature has been in production since as early as November 2007 – running on a limited beta. At the most basic level, this is a feature that marries a retailer’s AdWords campaigns with their website’s product feed (containing images, prices and detailed product information) via Google Base. When a user performs a product-related search on Google, the text ad is augmented by illustrations, prices and product choices. On 11/24, Google announced announced that Product Extensions are out of beta and available to all US advertisers. The only catch is that you must have a Google Merchant Center account with a valid product feed.

Here’s a screen capture of a Product Extensions ad in the Google search results (courtesy of Inside AdWords blog):

And here is what you need to look for under your campaign settings to set up Product Extensions ads:

Important Notes:

  • Product Extensions are only shown on They are NOT shown on Search Partners or the Content Network.
  • You don’t get to specify which keywords, ads, etc.  will trigger Product Extensions displays. Google will match items from your product feed to user search queries when relevant. Want to make sure you’re covered? Link your product feed to all campaigns that are currently bidding for product-related keywords on
  • Your ads on will still be dictated by your keywords, bids, settings, etc. – this is simply an extension of your existing PPC ads.

Product Listings

The Product Listings feature was announced for the first time earlier this month. Essentially, it builds on the marriage of Google Base and Google AdWords that was created for the aforementioned Product Extensions. The primary difference? Product Listings aren’t displayed along with your core text ad – these are standalone listings. They appear in the Sponsored Linkssection of the search results, but without a headline, body or display URL. And in keeping with the retail spirit, Product Listings ads are cost-per-acquisition (CPA) based only! That’s right – you pay only when a user clicks on the listing AND completes a purchase. In other words, Product Listings are analogous to an affiliate program you conduct via the search results pages.

Here are two examples of Product Listings (courtesy of Inside AdWords blog):

Important Notes to Remember

  • Product Listings is a beta-only feature. If you are a retail advertiser and interested, contact your Google representatives and see if you can be included.
  • Setting up Product Listings requires some additional steps:
    • Submit a product feed via Google Base / Google Merchant Center
    • Sign an Addendum agreement
    • Set up Google AdWords native conversion tracking
  • Product listings are only shown on They are NOT shown on Search Partners or the Content Network.
  • Your Product Listings ads will operate independently of your campaign’s keywords and ads, giving you the flexibility to advertise your entire product inventory.


We’ve saved the best for last! Google has also rolled out a beta program for SiteLinks. This program will allow advertisers to display, under the normal text ad, up to 4 additional lines of text linked to additional URLs. Google’s goal here is to “…extend the value of your existing AdWords ads by providing additional links to content deep within your sites…” In the announcement post, early testers of this feature found SiteLinks made it easier to direct users to relevant info and drive them deeper into the sales funnel. If you’re eager to jump on the SiteLinks bandwagon, you may have to wait. Not only is this a beta-only feature, but Google is including advertisers in the beta based on a “quality threshold.” When you are given access to SiteLinks in your campaign settings, you will be asked to pre-load up to 10 destination URLs from your website. On a search by search basis, Google will choose from this list of 10 URLs to display those 4 additional links under your text ad (image courtesy of Inside AdWords blog):

This is huge – it’s like gaining an additional 140 characters for your ad, since each line of link text can be 35 characters long!

Here is what you need to look for under your campaign settings to get SiteLinks set up:

Important Notes to Remember

  • SiteLinks is a beta-only feature. If you want to be included, try contacting your Google representative and/or continue working on improving the quality of your campaigns.
  • You DON’T have control over what links are displayed with your ads beyond your initial choice of up to 10 destination URLs.

Are These New Ad Types Right For You?

Product Listings and Extensions are obviously geared toward retail/ecommerce advertisers. That being said, even if you’re advertising just one r two products, you should jump on the chance to occupy SO MUCH of the Google search results page real estate.

SiteLinks is an altogether different beast. On the surface it seems that it’s an ad feature geared towards established brands that want to expose deeper links as a result of brand-related searches. But well be testing the feature for a wide variety of ad types. For example, if your site is segmented into departments, and ad triggered by a department-level keyword could include SiteLinks for specific product pages. Another example: if your site sells just one product or service, each SiteLink could refer to a separate specific feature and benefit pair, each with its own landing page.

There are still plenty of mini-mysteries and open questions regarding these new ad types. For example, can they be used in combination with each other? What impact do they have on quality score? We’ll be digging in, experimenting and discussing with our Google reps, so watch for updates here over the coming weeks.

Comments (21)

  1. Hi David,

    Great post on the new search formats. I’m thrilled by all of them and strongly believe they will improve advertisers’ conversion rates and CTRs. The big winner is the user who gets a better targeted ad.

    One of my clients is having a problem with the Product Extensions feature as the images are not always showing up (a blank box shows up instead of the image). We checked our Merchant Center account and everything is running smoothly. We contacted our Gooogle rep and are waiting to hear back. Long story short, it is a great feature, but there are still some issues that need to be worked out.

  2. Matthew,

    Thanks for the comment! We are testing the effectiveness of each ad type – hopeful of an increase in conversion rates and CTR. TBA…

  3. Great Post! I am putting together my data feed today to start product extension with my adwords. You can add certain attributes to the feed to help better match your products to the search queries. Thank you!

  4. 3 brilliant new ideas from Google! I wonder when they will roll it out across the Partner sites and Network?

  5. Saw my first and only ad featuring sitelinks yesterday – not very widely featured here in the UK at present. Looking forward to it being more widely rolled out.

  6. I *still* don’t have the Product Extensions option (or the other 2), and other companies have had product extensions on for *ages* now.. 🙁

  7. Jordan,

    Do you work with any dedicated AdWords reps? If so, you should ask them if they can get your accounts into betas in the future and hooked up with Product Extensions NOW! ; )

  8. I saw new ad in google with phone number after headline and then description lines.

    Do anybody know about this feature. Screesnshot can be send on request.

  9. However, in addition to adding your AdWords account info. to your Google Base account, you have to create a “Product Extension” in your AdWords campaign. The ability to create this “Product Extension” is not available in all AdWords accounts. So, while you can link your Adwords and Base accounts, the plus box is still not available to all advertisers.

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