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A handy guide to PPC ad formats

Why do PPC ad formats matter?

PPC ads come in many different shapes and sizes. The ad format you will benefit from the most will depend on your target audience and paid advertising goals. 

Knowing the different routes you can take towards meeting those goals is the first key step in any campaign.

We’re often asked about the various PPC ad formats available for our clients. We’ve decided to share an overview of the major formats that you could be driving results from.

Search engine ads

Text Ads 

Text ads come with two or three 30 character headlines as well as one or two 90 character descriptions. Both Google and Microsoft recently removed the traditional text ads, now allowing us to see larger ads with more varied ad extensions.

The way we see the ads has also changed over the years. We used to mostly see two headlines next to each other with a description and extensions below. Now, we are sometimes shown all three headlines and descriptions in one go.

  • Headline – If you use three headlines, they will each be up to 30 characters long and separated by a vertical ‘I’ shape or symbol. Depending on the device (desktop, mobile, tablet), they may appear differently.
  • Description line – Here you should highlight the key details about your brand, product or service. It’s the ideal place to include a CTA (call-to-action) to encourage users to complete your desired action, as well as your USP (unique selling point).
  • Ad extensions – Things like location, contact number and any other additional links to your site are added here. Your ad extensions are a way of increasing conversions and making things easier for you and the user.

App Download Ads

If you’re launching a new app or want to drive some extra traffic – app download ads or app engagement ads are ideal. It’s a way of promoting your app to the right users and displaying your ad to a relevant audience on both tablet and mobile.

Ads typically include up to four individual lines of text that can be up to 25 characters long. You also have the option to add more eye-catching features such as images and video snippets. To be advertised through Google Ads, your app must be live in Google Play. App Store ads will require using Apple Search Ads.

The ad itself can appear in a variety of places, such as search engine results pages (SERP), within the Play Store or on mobile web. Much like responsive ads, your app download ads can be shuffled by Google depending on best-performance outcomes. 

Local Services Ads

Local ads are either located at the top of a results page or right underneath a text ad, making it easy for local customers to find you. These ads are mainly used by smaller local businesses, for example:

  • Plumbers
  • Locksmiths
  • Electricians

Local ads will only be reached by people who are searching for the service you provide, meaning the clicks are often from users with high intent.

Call-Only Ads

Call-only ads are precisely that – they are designed primarily to encourage people to call your business number. These can only be used on mobile devices (because they will direct users straight to a call) and will charge at a cost-per-click, based on the bid that you set up. You’ll only pay when a user clicks on your ad headline or attempts to make a call.

Google Maps Ads

Google Maps ads are mostly powered by location ad extensions and are seen as a search partner in reporting.

These ads will appear at the top of map search results on both desktop and mobile, and will charge each time a user clicks. The main difference here is that the clicks are leading users straight to a location rather than to the site. These are about finding a business rather than driving traffic.

Shopping Ads 

Google and Bing shopping ads are a great way to promote your products at scale. Your shopping ads can take various formats on the SERP; ranging from a straight bar of 3 to 5 products at the top to 6-9 images appearing beside results.

Within your ad, you can include information such as a title, image, price and your shop or brand name. They are a quick and effective way of gathering any up to date and relevant information alongside an engaging photo of your product. 

PPC shopping ad
PPC shopping ad

Across the web

Lightbox Ads

Lightbox ads are interactive ads allowing you to do things like swipe through an online product catalogue and take part in an interactive video. 

The ads begin as standard banner sizes, but if a user shows an interest by hovering their cursor for roughly 3 seconds, the ad interaction will begin. You’ll only pay when somebody engages with your ad by hovering or following the interaction.  

Dynamic Remarketing Ads

The same feed as Google Shopping manages the images on Dynamic Remarketing Ads – so they can display images, prices, product name and other relevant information. These ads are marketed towards people who have previously shown an interest in your brand, product or service. 

If you’ve considered a new pair of jeans online – you’ve probably noticed them popping up again in your browser soon afterwards. Your remarketing ads can be displayed in Google and its partner sites. This type of ad format a great way of reminding people to make a purchase or use your service – therefore increasing conversions.

On YouTube

With over 1 billion users, it comes as no surprise that YouTube advertising has become increasingly popular. There is a variety of options when it comes to your PPC ads on this platform. To keep things simple, we’ve summarised the main options:

TrueView In-Stream Ads

These are video ads which can play before, during or after a YouTube video. Users can skip after 5 seconds – and you only pay if somebody continues to watch for over 30 seconds. 

YouTube in-stream ad
YouTube in-stream ad

Bumper Ads

Bumper ads are a newer, unskippable format of in-stream ads which aim to share a quick yet effective message. They’re only 6 seconds long, meaning the cost is lower, but engagement rates tend to be high.

If you have a clear message and don’t want to spend your budget on a long-term advertisement – then bumper ads might be for you. 

TrueView for Shopping

TrueView for Shopping or otherwise known as shoppable videos, is a combination of Google Shopping ads and In-Stream ads.

These are useful if you are hoping to drive more direct conversion from your videos. They’re powered by your shopping feeds and can be automated, remarketed or customised to promote a product featured in the video.

TrueView Discovery Ads

Discovery Ads are essentially a video-driven version of responsive display ads and are ideal for generating more views and brand awareness. They will include a 25 character headline, two 35 character description lines and an auto-generated thumbnail. 

The thumbnail will be one of four choices and can be customised. The ad will either appear in YouTube search results, next to a clip listed under ‘recommended videos’, or on YouTube’s mobile homepage. 

TrueView discovery ads
TrueView discovery ads – Hootsuite

Do you need help with your PPC campaign?

If you have any questions about PPC or want to find out more about what we do here at our London agency, get in touch and someone from our PPC team will be happy to help.