In a competitive online marketplace, businesses are learning new tricks and practices to gain an upper hand, and image extensions for Google Ads are one of the most dynamic ways to improve your online visibility.

Released in 2020, Google Ad image extensions are available to use in live Google Ad campaigns. Ad extensions are believed to provide a 10-15% average increase in CTR, and images are the most popular one. CTR stands for ‘Click-through rate’ and is perhaps the most critical measure for your online ad campaign.

CTR % doesn’t just tell you how often your ad is being clicked on, it is a ratio which shows you how often potential customers who see your ad in search engine results, then actually click on it. So this ratio % is worked out by dividing the number of clicks on an ad by the number of impressions, ie; how often it was seen. So if an ad has been clicked on eight times, but seen 100 times, it has a CTR% of 8 as an example. So this CTR% measure can tell you how well images, keywords and ads themselves are performing, which can guide your ad strategy and trigger changes and improvements.  

What are Google Ad image extensions?

A Google Ad image extension is an image which is shown alongside an existing ad which is usually just a headline, description and a URL. In essence, an image alongside an ad:

  • Enhances the ad’s message
  • Captures attention and makes the ad more engaging
  • Potential to Improve the ad performance thus improving the quality score (ie. it performs better and could cost less per click)
  • Brings a visual element to a text-heavy ad

In general, including an image with your Google Ad will enable greater online visibility and makes you much more competitive in the market of pay-per-click advertisers.

How do Google Image extensions work?

You can add an image extension by looking in ‘Advanced Settings’ on the Automated Extension tab of Google Ads. If you click on ‘enable’ this means that Dynamic Image Extensions will automatically pull images from landing pages or social media linked to your site and add them to text ads. When doing this you should make sure you have the rights to use images in such a way that may be pulled into Google Ads.

However, non-Dynamic Image Extensions gives you more control. Here you can manually upload more specific images which you have selected yourself and therefore can be tailored to specific ad campaigns. This means that you can select which level of your ad campaign the image is added to, depending on whether it is relevant to all ads, or just some. So you have to keep your target audience in mind at all times. 

What you need to know about Google Ad image extensions

Image extensions won’t necessarily be shown automatically next to your ad, Google has to approve them. So first of all, Google will only allow an ad where it predicts the ad may/will improve performance and the ad’s position and Ad rank is high enough for the image extension to show in results.

After that approval level, there is also some criteria that the images uploaded must meet:

  • The image must be a static GIF, a PNG file or a JPEG file
  • The file must be 5120KB maximum
  • You can upload a minimum of one square and one landscape image, and a maximum of 20 images per extension
  • The image can have no brand, logo or text overlay
  • The image can’t have too much blank space in it
  • The image can’t be cropped so that the product or service is unrecognisable
  • The image can’t be a collage of multiple images
  • The image can’t include nudity or sexually suggestive content
  • The image must be of a good quality, ie. no blurriness and sharp focus

Ultimately, to improve your CTR% you want the image to be informative and of high-quality, and relatively simple in terms of featuring the product or service centrally. This is not the time for deep, abstract or subliminal imagery that you might use in a TV advert, you have a very brief opportunity to grab someone’s attention while scrolling through search engine results, so it is recommended that the product or service is around 80% of the actual image, in order to have the biggest and most immediate impact, and to result in an improved CTR%.