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  • Writer's pictureCurtis Bartos

Google’s giant gallery ads for search are coming: What they are and how you’ll pay for them

Advertisers can feature up to eight images in gallery ads, Google's new mobile search ad format.

We attended Google Marketing Live this year, and there were announcements made that enable advertising across multiple Google properties. One of the few specifically search-centric announcements is the arrival of gallery ads. Google has been testing gallery ads for a few months - they will be continually rolling out to all advertisers later this year. "By combining search intent with a more interactive visual format, gallery ads make it easier for you to communicate what your brand has to offer," Prabhakar Raghavan, SVP of Google Ads and Commerce said in the announcement. Here's a quick look at a new gallery ad from frozen meal brand Devour showing some products, which are sold through retail partners, not direct to consumers

Users simply swipe left, right, up or down to see full screen images with captions

Unlike carousel ads on Facebook or Instagram—or even banner ads on the display network—gallery ads will show up in response to a user’s search query. That makes gallery ads intent-driven image ads.

Images in Paid Search Ads?

This is a big deal, because it addresses one of the fundamental problems with paid search: creating a compelling ad.

Throughout the history of paid search, figuring out how to milk a compelling message out of a limited number of text characters has always been a huge headache.

How do you simultaneously reference the pain point that triggered the search, explain how your offer solves the problem, differentiate yourself from the competition, establish credibility and incentivize someone to click in 270 characters or less?

Tis a mystery that has stumped many marketers.

With the right picture, however, you can convey a lot of things in a single glance. That’s what makes gallery ads so exciting. With these ads, instead of trying to pack everything into a few headlines and descriptions, you can use your image to connect with your audience and focus on selling with your ad copy.

And, as far as initial test data suggests, the model works. According to Google, gallery ads drive 25% more engagement (clicks and swipes) than a standard text ad.

Where can they show? For now, these ads are only eligible to show in the top spot in Google search results. And only on mobile. Andy Miller said Google will experiment with showing them on desktop and in other Google products.

A comparison of 'Absolute Top' vs 'Top' in Google Ad ranking

How do you use them? There is no special campaign type, this is strictly a new ad format. That means they are meant to run in your search campaign ad groups along with text ads.

Gallery ads compete in the same auction against other text ads.

How are they charged? Advertisers get charged for gallery ad interactions in one of two ways. Either on a cost-per-click basis when a user clicks on the headline to go to the advertiser’s website — just like a normal text ad. Or after the user swipes through three images in the gallery. Note, as we mentioned above, the minimum number of images you’ll need to upload is four.

Google knows images drive engagement — hello, Shopping ads — but past tests such as image extensions and big brand banners never panned out. With automotive ads as proof of concept, Google’s tests of this format for other verticals over the past several months appear to have indicate image-heavy text ads can work in search results.

Asked how they perform from a conversion standpoint, Miller said, you may not see direct conversions from this ad format but that they can drive non-click conversions or assist conversions further down the customer journey. He noted that ad extensions will be coming, though exactly which ones remains to be determined.

Understanding that they only display in the top ad position in the search results and compete against other text ad formats in an ad group — won’t Google’s quality score calculation, which factors estimated CTR, favor gallery ads over text ads in an ad group? Miller said that might happen, but that they are seeing these ads show on broad queries that haven’t been monetized before, so by including a gallery ad in your ad group you’ll be eligible to compete in more auctions than you would otherwise. How can S37 Media can help? Stay tuned for more information regarding Google’s retiring of average position. If your business would like an account evaluation on how to best handle Google's impending average position retirement, send us an email and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

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