Google’s Gallery Ads and the Future of Search

Gallery ads from Google were announced at the Google Marketing Live in 2019. Since then only few advertisers have had the chance to use them. As they expand towards a full launch in August 2019, more and more accounts see them as part of the available ad types.

Gallery ads are a format which can be extremely powerful as it combines search and visual format. They combine 8 images and text to create an ad which resembles Facebook’s Carousel format. It takes the top position of the search results above the other text ads. Each of the images can have a unique caption text and a call to action can be added at the end of the ad. A user can swipe on the ad to see the different images or they can click on the ad and expand it into a vertical view with all the images one below the other.

How to implement Gallery ads?

If you are lucky to be on the beta you can create the ad directly from Ads & Extensions in the Google Ads interface. The format will show as an option once you click on the plus sign. For the whitelisted accounts there is a prominent banner in the Google ads interface inviting advertisers to try the new ad. 

You can create a gallery ad directly in the same ad group with search ads and they will compete together with the rest of the formats. After the successful launch of Responsive Search ads(RSA) in the fall of 2018, Google recommendation is 2 Extended text ads (ETAs) and 1 RSA per ad group as a minimum set up. If you add a Gallery ad to the combination you will have a powerful set up. The more ads and content you have in your ad groups the better. Combined with smart bidding and the right ad rotation optimisation(optimise for conversions which is now by default) you are in the best position to achieve results.

When are you charged?

You pay once someone clicks on your ad the same way as with text ads. You will also pay if someone swipes at least 3 times your images. Your minimum amount of images is 4 and the maximum is 8. So if you upload more images, you don’t pay extra after the third swipe. As with all new ad types from Google, if you go for the maximum number of assets, you will get the best results.

Google Search on the Road to Full Automation

There has been the talk about Google taking away control from advertisers and pushing automation in their core marketing solutions. And it is happening. The only reason for this is that Google’s automation can bring better results. For a while the belief (not unjustified) was that smart bidding and automation drives higher costs and low performance. However as Google’s, access to a lot of data and advances in machine learning has led to improved solutions.

 Now ML is in most of Google Ads. Creatives like Responsive Search Ads and Responsive Display Ads, now adding Gallery Ads use ML to select which combination shows when and to which user. Smart Bidding is entirely powered by machine learning taking the fiddly task of setting a bid by keyword away. Formats like Dynamic Search Ads take the need of keywords completely away. 

Apart from the advance of machine learning technology, the need to move to automation is powered by the overly complex user journey. When Google first started ads in October 2000 – 19 years ago! – users accessed the internet primarily via desktop. With the advance of mobile devices, the increasing accessibility of smartphones and overall of internet, things started getting complex. Now a new wave of devices start getting in our lives – Alexa, Google Home, Google Assistant Mini, wearables and smart watches. It is estimated that 50% of the world’s population has access to the internet. In this context the road to automation in ads starts to make more and more sense. With such high internet connectivity and availability of devices to access the internet manual advertising is getting out of the capabilities of a human. It is not Google taking away control – it is Google making advertising possible in this new world. 

Where do Gallery ads come in this context? 

For many advertisers Gallery Ads looked like a response to the success of Carousel ads on Facebook. However there is more to add to this. Of course, having a strong visual format on Search is important for Google. The Google Display Network is now very susceptible to browser changes and the decline of cookies. Browsers like Safari introduced the ITP 2.1 (intelligent tracking prevention) which deletes your cookies making tracking of conversions and remarketing hard. Google themselves updated a lot of policies on personalised advertising preventing remarketing in sensitive verticals – health, addictions, alcohol, gambling. These are now excluded not only from Remarketing, but from any Google created audiences. 

On the other hand Search has always had better conversion rates and higher quality of traffic due to the high intent. Having a visual ad on Search is making it powerful for the marketer, but also makes it more visually compelling for the user. The internet now is much more visual and entertaining than 20 years ago when search engines started. We still want to find answers and get help, but we also like getting answers fast. Visual is fast! An image can say a thousand words.  Essentially you get a visual impactful format and the high intent of Search users. 

If you are on the beta, get Gallery ads as fast as you can as it will give you some early adopted advantages. If you are not sure, check the ads section in your accounts – you will see a big banner if your account is part of the gradual whitelisting. Good luck and happy advertising!

About me: I am an experienced digital marketing professional and a Googler. I have taught over 3000 people in online marketing, sales and PPC. Get my new book. I blog weekly and teach on Udemy with more than 2,700 students enrolled in my online course. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @odolena