What are gallery ads?
First reported in early 2019 and announced at Google Marketing Live in May, gallery ads are paid search network ads that combine standard search headlines with a series of images. They can be shown on mobile devices when the advertiser has the absolute top ad position. This ad format is similar to the Facebook carousel ad containing swipeable cards. Gallery ads are currently in beta testing with no release date at the time of this article.
Creative options and decisions to make with Google Gallery Ads
While creating the ads is a simple process, deciding on image choice, headline text, and tagline text can create numerous strategic possibilities. As an advertiser, you will want to consider your goals and determine if gallery ads make sense for your client.
When you create the ad, you have the option of four to eight images with an aspect ratio of 1.91:1. You choose the order of your images which allows you to plan messaging accordingly.
The rules regarding the images are quite strict. Advertisers can only use photos that look realistic with minimal digital manipulation. Prohibited image adjustments include, 3D rendered objects, all-white backgrounds, stylized backgrounds, photographic filters, text overlay, logo overlay, GIFs and collage images. Basically, if you have done anything outside of resizing it in photoshop, it probably will not get approved.
In traditional text ads, headlines were considered 80% of the ad in terms of prominence. The new Google gallery ads will shift that focus to the distinct images. The text used will be important in establishing context and qualifying the potential website visitor.
Gallery ads have up to three headlines, but only two are guaranteed to show. Testing a CTA in the second headline spot may be a valuable choice for some advertisers since it will always be shown. These ads also include an additional section for text below every image called the tagline.
Each image has an optional text field called the tagline with a maximum of 70 characters. This limit will add an extra step for advertisers who want to simply copy over their text ads descriptions. Other possibilities include keeping the tagline text short and focusing on key service points, descriptions of items in the image, or attributes about your business.
Strategies and Results from Beta Testing
An important thing to keep in mind when testing Google gallery ads is your average position. Since these ads only display in the absolute top position, you will want to place them in ad groups with a high average position or increase bids while testing.
While we are still in the beginning phases of testing this new ad format, initial results show click through rates up to 3X the highest performing text ad. Advertisers should be aware that since these ads are only eligible to show in the absolute top position, comparing CTR performance with standard ads is not an apples to apples comparison.
Our team at Forthea is excited to see the future of paid search and innovative new ad formats, but we are also wary of how these will affect our client’s accounts. With image ads only available for the top advertiser, do the other advertisers stand a chance? Do you think image-based ads will take over as the future of Google paid search?