Adding extensions to your AdWords or Bing Ads campaigns is a great way to enhance your ads.
When building well-structured AdWords or Bing ads campaigns, you should never leave extensions off your checklist. Extensions are relatively quick and easy to add on both platforms and they have several advantages. Far from being arbitrary bells and whistles for your ads, extensions give greater prominence to your ads and improve your CTR.
Bing claim that their ad extensions deliver increased visibility, which lead to more clicks and therefore better ROI, while AdWords clearly state that on average their advertisers see a 10 – 15% improvement on CTR from adding suitable extensions. AdWords also directly point out that, on their platform, extensions contribute to ad rank, along with quality score and bid. There are, therefore, plenty of good reasons to use extensions.
In days gone by, AdWords was the clear winner on the extensions front with a greater range available.
However, over the past few years Bing has really stepped up the competition. Now the two platforms offer very similar capabilities for advertisers utilising extensions, yet some interesting differences remain.
If you have used both Bing ads and AdWords for your paid traffic campaigns, you will have noticed some extensions are unique to each platform, while extensions present on both platforms have subtle differences in functionality or presentation.
Let’s take a look at some of the ad extensions you can find on both platforms and the differences you may encounter.
Sitelinks allow extra links to multiple website pages to be included in your ads. They are probably the most commonly encountered ad extensions on Bing or AdWords and they are extremely useful for the majority of campaigns. Whether your company is e-commerce, lead generation or B2B, sitelink extensions are ideal for showcasing multiple product or service links in your ad. As an added benefit the sitelinks also make the ad itself bigger and more prominent for users.
Bing sitelink extension in action:
AdWords sitelink extension in action:
AdWords sitelinks making ads even bigger:
Google has actually reported 30% increases in CTR for advertisers just using sitelink extensions. Some of the key differences are that Bing sitelink extensions have a 35 character limit for the headline/description and you can add up to 10 sitelinks, whereas AdWords allows 25 characters in the headline, 35 in the description and up to 20 sitelinks per campaign. From this you might assume AdWords has the better sitelink extensions but Bing also offers enhanced sitelink extensions.
As you can see from the Bing ad image above, enhanced sitelink extensions provide additional descriptive text under each link. The link headline itself is also made larger. While slightly different, both AdWords and Bing offer great options for sitelinks and they are very easy to implement.
In Bing simply click the ad extensions tab.
From the drop down you will find all the manual ad extensions you can implement, including sitelink extensions.
All you need to do now is click create new sitelink, add in your details and away you go.
This format is fairly similar for the implementation of all extensions and as you can see from the screen shots below, the set up on AdWords follows the same pattern.
This is another very handy extension present in both AdWords and Bing ads. It is especially useful for local brick and mortar business, since users can click for directions from the ad itself.
Bing location extension and sitelinks in action:
AdWords location extension, structured snippets and sitelinks in action:
According to Bing, location extensions produce approximately 7% to 10% higher CTRs and unlike AdWords, you can easily add the extension within seconds from within Bing ads.
With AdWords’ location extensions you need to have a fully verified Google My Business account, which you then link within AdWords. Google My Business accounts need to be verified usually by phone or postcard. If that wasn’t extra effort enough, many advertisers have run into irritating problems with linking the account if it was set up under a separate Gmail. This helpful article outlines some troubleshooting solutions to that particular issue. Fortunately AdWords have taken steps to rectify the problem. You can now request access to link the business account even if it is owned by another Gmail. Just pray you still have access to that Gmail if it was set up a long time ago.
If you have lost the Gmail you verified your Google My Business account with you can still request a transfer of ownership by getting a Google rep involved but is it notoriously time consuming.
It terms of ease, Bing’s location extension is far more straight forward for all users but if you have been smart and kept on top of all your accounts then both are easy to create.
Call extensions allow users to click to call straight from the ad itself, without having to visit your website. Call extensions are perfect for lead generation campaigns, any business that maintains contracts with clients or offers bespoke services. Call extensions are also a benefit for any industry you can think of if your potential customers are on the go, browsing on mobile, simply have a question or wish to make a booking.
Bing ad featuring call extension and location extension:
Bing ads do not allow call only campaigns in the same way as AdWords, however you can replicate the effect by using Bing ads call extensions and selecting ‘just show the number’ option for mobile view and then got to your device bids and decrease your desktop and tablet bids by 100%. This way you can essentially improvise a call only campaign on Bing.
Other notable differences between the PPC platforms, in regard to the call extension, are the forwarding numbers. Forwarding numbers are an option in both Bing ads and AdWords for call tracking, however Bing only allows this option in the USA and UK.
AdWords allows their call forwarding numbers to be used in a wide range of countries, you can see a full list here. Bing’s call forwarding numbers also incur additional charges.
This charge is explained in the following video from Bing along with the free call extension options:
AdWords’ call extensions will show on any device, whether you select call forwarding or not, but this is only possible on Bing if you choose the call forwarding option. Since it is only an option in two countries it makes Bing’s call extension far less successful.
AdWords has the clear lead on call extensions but a nice little feature on Bing call extensions is that you can click to call on desktop and start a skype conversation. Advertisers should be aware that manually dialled numbers don’t incur a charge on AdWords but for the skype calls via Bing ads there is a small charge, even if the number was manually dialled.
Call extensions are a big advantage for paid traffic campaigns, their only drawback is the potential loss of data if your customer converted via phone rather than onsite. As long as your PPC team keep good lines of communication open with your sales team, you should be able to still compile data for all conversions.
Callout extensions are easy to add and almost identical on both platforms. A callout is a 25 character piece of additional text. You can use these to expand your ad and include some extra USPs. A minimum of two callouts is required by both platforms for the callouts to be eligible to show. On AdWords, up to four could be displayed with your ad and on Bing up to 20 can be associated with a campaign or AdGroup.
A Bing ad with both callouts and sitelinks:
An AdWords ad with both callouts and sitelinks:
Structured Snippet extensions
Structured snippet extensions are yet another extension that Bing has directly copied from AdWords and they appear extremely similar on both ad visuals, as you can see from the images below.
Bing structured snippet extension:
Here is the AdWords version:
Much like callouts, structured snippets are handy for highlighting what makes your business special. Many advertisers cannot decide whether to use structured snippets or callout extensions and it is easy to understand the conundrum, as both seem so similar.
Despite their similar appearance and aims Marketing Mojo has revealed some surprisingly different statistics for the success of callouts vs structured snippets.
Apparently, callouts receive 82% more ad clicks and 90% more impressions, on the other hand structured snippets have a higher conversion rate and a CPC 12% lower than callouts. Experimenting between the two options should reveal what works best for your business goals but a general guide is that snippets tend to focus on services or products rather than USPs.
Another highly effective extension available on both AdWords and Bing are review extensions. Review extensions do pretty much what they say on the tin: highlight your best customer reviews:
Bing review extension in action:
AdWords review extension in action:
This seems like an ideal opportunity but getting reviews approved by either paid traffic platform is not without its trials. As Periscopix accurately point out in their review of Bing’s extensions, there are quite a few restrictions on Bing ads reviews, although the concession among paid traffic experts seems to be that AdWords is the much greater headache. PPC Hero amusingly terms review extensions “AdWords’ mythical monster” and not without good reason.
AdWords review extensions are notoriously tricky to get approved but if you can grit your teeth and follow their strict requirements you will have one of the few ads with reviews floating around and AdWords believes they can enhance your CTR by 10%.
The review extensions within AdWords and Bing ads are not to be confused with the star ratings frequently observed in ads on both search engines.
These stars are actually seller ratings (or merchant ratings as they are known on Bing).
Bing merchant rating in action:
AdWords seller rating in action:
The star ratings are not a separate manual extension but are automatically pulled into ads for eligible businesses. To become eligible for the star rating feature in either AdWords or Bing ads your business must have a certain number of reviews in the last 12 months from recognised third party sources such as Trust Pilot. In this educational piece from Bing you can find all the recognised third party review platforms. This AdWords support piece details the third party sources recognised by AdWords but many are the same for both platforms. The major difference in this case, is that businesses will require at least 150 reviews in the past 12 months to be eligible for the AdWords seller rating but only 30 for the Bing merchant rating.
These star ratings are classified as ‘automated extensions’ on AdWords and annotations on Bing ads but it essentially means the same thing: that they can appear in your ads if you qualify but cannot be manually added in the same way as other extensions. AdWords and Bing differ slightly on their automated extensions as well as their manual ones.
AdWords boasts the following automated extensions:
- customer ratings
- previous visits
- seller ratings
- dynamic sitelink extensions
- dynamic structured snippets
- dynamic callouts
- dynamic sitelinks
- automated call extensions
- longer ad headlines
Bing has quite a few additional automated extensions, including Twitter follower annotations and brand annotations, which were once available on AdWords but subsequently discontinued. Bing ads is currently home to the following annotations:
- Merchant Rating Annotation
- Smart Annotation
- Twitter Annotation
- Dynamic Sitelink Annotation
- Top Ad Annotation
- Long Ad Title Annotation
- Previous Visit Annotation
- Brand Annotation
- Consumer Sentiment Annotation
- Consumer Rating Annotation
- Dynamic Description Annotation
- Related Information Annotation
- Security Badge Annotation
- Dynamic Callout Annotation
- Price Drop Alert Annotation
- Elite Merchant Badge Annotation
It seems Bing may have actually pulled ahead on the automated extension war of the PPC platforms.
Advertisers concerned about automated extensions displaying undesired or unflattering data need not panic as both platforms allow them to be disabled. To opt out of Bing ads annotations simply head to Bing ads support and get in touch with a rep to discuss opting out of any you are uncomfortable with.
To opt out of automated extensions in AdWords you can take matters into your own hands. Simply select the automated extensions report from the extensions drop down then expand the advanced options section.
Then click edit next to ‘show all automated extensions for this account’.
Finally select ‘do not use specific automated extensions for this account’, check the boxes of those you wish to exclude and click save.
If your business is promoting a downloadable app there is nothing better than having a download button right there in your ad. Both AdWords and Bing offer the app extension functionality.
Bing app extension in action:
AdWords app extension in action:
The main difference in the app extension is that AdWords supports only IOS and Android, whereas Bing also supports windows apps. AdWords isn’t completely outgunned though, as it provides in-app action tracking, which is sadly lacking in the Bing system.
It appears to be a close battle between Bing ads and AdWords extensions, with so many advantages on both sides but also clear room for improvement in both camps. The really interesting extensions are of course the ones they do not share.
Extensions unique to AdWords
Bing has been doing its very best to keep up with AdWords extensions but not one to be bested, AdWords has introduced yet more extensions that Bing has yet to adopt, including message extensions, price extensions and affiliate link extensions.
In the image above you can see an AdWords price extension in an ad. Clearly this is very useful for users wanting to do quick price comparison for products, services, hotels and more. The extension naturally has huge advantages if your services are competitively priced, so hopefully Bing will follow suit soon.
Message extensions can provide some interesting opportunities for the right advertisers. They allow your users to text you from your ad, making it a super way to generate engagement with ads for mobile users.
Wordstream has spotted one of these message extensions in an ad and displayed how they might work from a user perspective:
They have also gathered data that shows message extensions may be nearly as successful as call extensions:
All you need to set up a message extension is your business name, a phone number users can text to, the text extension and some message text:
Affiliate link extensions
If your business manufactures products that are sold at various retailers you can use AdWords’ affiliate link extensions:
This makes it easy for consumers to find the nearest location that stocks the product.
Extensions unique to Bing
AdWords may have a few extra extensions under its belt but Bing ads has a unique feature of its own with image extensions. AdWords used to sport image extensions too but discontinued them, much like it did with brand buttons.
Bing ads have stuck with image extensions and they certainly do bring an attractive visual element to ads. They are perfect for users seeking products. Bing ads allow up to six images.
The only other major variation advertisers may encounter between AdWords and Bing ad extensions is the level at which they can be applied. This handy chart from Clix Marketing shows whether the extension can be added at AdGroup, campaign or account level for the relevant PPC platform.
So, which is better? AdWords or Bing ad extensions?
Now you can identify the differences between Bing ad extensions and AdWords ad extensions but how do we decide which is better?
Both have many good points and some elements could do with a tweak but for fun we will give them our score:
- AdWords + 1 for message extensions
- AdWords + 1 for affiliate link extensions
- AdWords +1 for price extensions
- AdWords +1 for greater advertiser control over editing automated extensions
- AdWords +1 for better call extension features and more global usability
- AdWords + 1 for better in app action tracking
- Bing + 1 for easier location extensions
- Bing +1 for more supported app extension options
- Bing +1 for image extensions
- Bing +1 for greater range of annotations
It seems that Bing is slightly lagging behind on our scoring system but that doesn’t mean that you should favour AdWords just based on extensions. Extensions are a marvellous way to create more engaging and more useful ads for your users but they should not be used in isolation to judge PPC platform quality. Both Bing and AdWords offer excellent PPC opportunities.
your ads and Bing is less competitive, making CPC up to 33.5% cheaper. If you would rather only invest in one PPC platform and wish to learn more about the differences between Google AdWords and Bing ads we recommend browsing our Paid Traffic Google vs Bing page.
Why won’t my ad extensions show?
Ad extensions don’t show on your ads just because you have enabled them. Some ad extensions only seem to show in the top couple of ad positions and as AdWords explains in the following Q & A, it is dependant on ad rank, quality score and providing a good user experience for your audience.
Naturally this isn’t the end of the ad extension war for AdWords and Bing. AdWords may be a step ahead, in terms of variety of manual extensions for now but Bing has some exciting ad extensions testing in beta.
Bing has announced that the following extensions are being tested in a pilot program:
Video extensions – a potentially even more engaging ad extension format than image extensions
Filters extensions – these would help users browse products in the ad
Form extensions – these could potential cut down conversion time and by-pass weak landing pages
Action extensions – these would allow the creation of CTAs where users could take an action in the ad e.g. make a reservation, book a ticket, sign up and much more. PPC Hero has revealed some of the CTA options we can look forward to:
Last spring Bing also announced it was testing new social extensions for many of the major social networks.
With so much new functionality on the horizon it seems the extension war has no end in sight for AdWords and Bing.