AdWords Display Ads: Image vs Text

By Geena Nazareth | May 6, 2016
More Articles by Geena

Last year, Google did some “experimenting” with display ads. In July, AdWords added a feature that automatically converts simple text ads into “image-like” ads called richer text ads on the Google Display Network. Richer text ads are not to be confused with the magazine ads Google launched two months earlier.

To create these richer text ads, Google pulls the logo and its primary and secondary colors from a verified G+ account. A richer text ad will not run if a verified G+ account is not available.

Richer Text Ad

Text Ad vs Richer Text Ad

While the richer text ads were expected to improve performance (which I’m sure was the case for some advertisers), there were several cases in which the ads rendered in an unappealing way and did not follow brand style guidelines. Some Marketing Mojo clients were understandably displeased with the way their brand was being represented and opted to pause display campaign text ads (this is not something we typically recommend, as some websites on the Google Display Network do not support image ads, but we are also of the opinion that Google should give advertisers more control over this feature since specific branding is very important to many advertisers).

Side note:  It was later discovered through a conversation with an AdWords representative that accounts can opt out of having simple text ads converted to richer text ads. This was not really public knowledge. Prior to learning this, it seemed that advertisers had no control, though Google AdSense Publisher sites could “disable” richer text ads in their accounts.

Here, I will outline the effects of turning off text ads in one particular display advertising effort.

Before: Image Ads vs Text Ads

The graphs below illustrate the distribution of impressions, clicks and conversions between display campaign text and image ads as well as the differences in click-through rate and conversion rate. This data is for the six weeks before text ads were paused.

All Graphs

While image ads contributed to 60% of impressions, text ads contributed to 52% of clicks and 56% of conversions.  Text ads also had a 0.08% higher click-through rate and 1.13% higher conversion rate.

After: Only Image Ads Active

The chart below compares the six weeks before Display campaign text ads were paused to the six week period after.

After Data Chart

As you can see, most metrics did experience decreases with the exception of the conversion rate, which increased by 0.08%.

As I previously mentioned, pausing display campaign text ads altogether is not recommended. Doing so could decrease your campaign’s reach and result in decreases for other performance metrics, as evidenced by the data above. While performance between image ads and text ads will vary by campaign, some decreases should be expected if an ad type is completely excluded. As an alternative, try putting your text ads and image ads into separate ad groups, which will allow you to bid lower on the text ads, if necessary.

If you do choose to eliminate text ads in your display campaigns, you must make sure that you are getting the most out of your image ads.  So, keep the following things in mind:

Questions or comments? Continue the conversation below or find me on Twitter. If you’d like to learn more about advertising best practices, check out our Digital Marketing Checklist.

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