Structured Snippets vs. Callout Extensions: Comparing Apples to Apples (Or Is It?)

By Jordan Blair | Nov 17, 2016
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As advertisers know, Google has many ad extensions available to provide more information about your company and the product or service that you are promoting in your pay-per-click advertising. Most of these are distinct from one another and have specific advantages over one another. However, two types of ad extensions, structured snippet extensions and callout extensions, are very similar and comparing them can seem like comparing apples to apples. While both of these extensions are in fact different, it can be a bit confusing to distinguish the different purposes of each.

Structured Snippet Extensions

Originally, Google introduced dynamic structured snippet ad extensions. These automated ad extensions pull information that is relevant to your industry from your website and insert them into your ad. After a few months, Google created structured snippet extensions, a variation of the dynamic ad extension.

The purpose of adding this variation was to give advertisers more control over what information shows up in their ad from extensions. This being said, there are still limitations with structured snippers. Advertisers have to choose from a predefined set of 12 categories, or headers, including:

  • Amenities
  • Brands
  • Courses
  • Degree Programs
  • Destinations
  • Featured Hotels
  • Insurance Coverages
  • Neighborhoods
  • Service Catalog
  • Shows
  • Styles
  • Types

Under these header categories, Google requires you to create at least three customized value fields; there is a 10 value limit. Also, Google gives advertisers the ability to create a mobile device preference, set start/end dates, and schedule times you want the snippets to show. Ultimately, manually creating structured snippets will override Google’s dynamic snippets. This way you are able to optimize your snippets to best engage the customer.

structured snippets

structured snippet example

Callout Extensions

Unlike structured snippets, Google originally introduced callouts that could be created manually, then added a dynamic callout variation. With dynamic callouts, Google will automatically add information to your ad that is more specific to the actual products or services that the company offers. Here is an example of a dynamic callout extension provided by Google:

callout example

In this scenario, ACME Auto Shop has text somewhere on their website that says the phrases ”25 years of experience,” “Book online,” and “Certified Technicians.” Google has deemed these phrases as useful additional information and have automatically pulled it into the ad. As with structured snippets, if you have manually set up callouts they will override Google’s dynamic efforts.

By using dynamic callouts, as opposed to manual callouts, advertisers are able to save the time of creating the ad extensions. The downside to using them is that you don’t have control over what shows up and therefore cannot optimize based on your customers’ engagement.

Structured Snippets vs. Callout Extensions

Sound pretty similar to one another? That’s because there aren’t a lot of clear distinctions between structured snippets and callouts. At first glance, it seems like comparing apples to apples. Although it seems like they can be used interchangeably, Google provides some clarification about the different features of these extensions.

structured snippets vs callouts

The biggest difference in these ad extensions is the type of information that they show to searchers. Structured snippets show information about variations of the specific products or services that makes your business stand out within the industry. For example, a hotel may show that they have a pool and exercise equipment, or a retailer may show specific lines of clothing that they carry. Structured snippets are meant to provide more information about the products or services themselves which may help consumers become interested in your offering because of what you sell.

Rather than variations of products or services themselves, callouts describe the supporting details about your overall products, services, or business that add value to your offerings. For the hotel, this could include a special discount for room reservations or that the reception desk is open 24/7, and for the retailer, they could show information about free shipping that they offer or a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the product. Callouts are meant to attract customers by showing them the added value that your company brings to the products you sell.

Both structured snippets and callouts be set at the account, campaign, or ad group level. However, in order for these to be relevant to the advertisement, marketers should make sure that more granular extensions are set at the ad group level.

Which Is Better?

Now that you know the difference between structured snippets and callouts, it is important to ask: Is there a difference in performance between the two types of extensions? Will one of these extension types lead to better performance?

To help answer that question, here is some performance data from a company we work with that is using both structured snippet and callout extensions. This is aggregate data from six different campaigns for about the last six months:

structured snippets

From this data, we can tell that AdWords shows callouts more often than structured snippets. In fact, callouts receive 82% more clicks and 90% more impressions. As a result, they had 79% higher cost than structured snippets. Across all six campaigns that we measured, there was not a single instance where callouts had less clicks, impressions, or cost than structured snippets. However, the average cost per click and click-through rate were slightly higher for structured snippets.

Are callouts better because they appear more often and bring more traffic to the site? You will typically want to use these extensions to make more efficient use of your advertising budget, not to bring in more traffic to your site. Extensions can help you get more conversions with less clicks and, therefore, less cost. Here are the conversion metrics for the extensions used by the same six campaigns for the same time period:

structured snippets

While callouts do a better job of bringing in volume of conversions, driving 58% more conversions than structured snippets, structured snippets do better job of efficiently driving conversions. They have a higher conversion rate and the cost per conversion is 12% lower than callouts.

Which Extension Should You Use?

All of that said, which extensions should you use? Just callouts to receive more clicks? Just structured snippets to optimize your campaigns? In most instances, the answer is both.

Sometimes you may just want to use just one, such as if you are working with a very limited budget or if the structured snippet headers are not applicable to what you are advertising. However, it is highly recommended that advertisers use both callouts and structured snippets where applicable. The more extensions you have on your ad, the more space your ad takes up, increasing the chance it will catch a searchers eye and the more compelling the ad will be because it will provide more information about your company or offering to searchers.

Furthermore, the expected impact of ad extensions is a factor that helps to determine your Ad Rank. By using both structured snippets and callouts, the influence of your extensions will compound and have a larger impact on increasing your ad position, CTR, and conversion efficiency. Ultimately, if you are not using these ad extensions, they should be a part of your advertising strategy. Check out our Digital Marketing Checklist to see what else other opportunities you could be missing out on that would improve your advertising strategy.

Have more insight into these extensions or questions about them? Post your comment below, and I’ll get back to you.

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