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Ad Extensions: Consumer Ratings Annotations

March 20, 2014 • Article by Jess Chambers

Last week, Google announced that they are rolling out a new feature in Adwords – the snappily-named Consumer Ratings Annotations. This new ad extension provides searchers with an additional tool to help influence their decision before they click on an ad. Google understands that searchers respond well to peer reviews and this can be used to an advertiser’s advantage. Advertisers already have the option to add telephone numbers, locations, reviews, social extensions and seller ratings to their ads.

The new Consumer Ratings Annotations will be another ad extension that advertisers can choose to show. They display important customer feedback in an ongoing quest to provide searchers with as much information as possible at the start of their search. Early reports from Google’s beta testing has suggested that Consumer Ratings Annotations (CRAs) have increased click through rates by 10% on average.

CRAs show ‘out of 10’ ratings for a business or service based on the results of consumer surveys conducted via Google’s Consumer Surveys platform. Google Consumer Surveys (GCS) were launched in 2012 and provide an alternative to opinion-gathering sites that are often prone to falsely positive or negative reviews. Through GCS, people are asked to volunteer their opinions on brands/businesses/services that they have recently used or experienced and provide a rating. For example, people can be asked what airline company they’ve flown with recently or what the last brand of shoes that they purchased was. The surveys will appear as users browse the internet and there will be incentives to fill them in: you can earn credits to spend in Google’s Android app store Google Play.
cra example 1

The example above show the CRAs in action, appearing below the main ad copy. The ‘Ratings’ link is clickable and will take searchers to a more detailed view of the survey scores as shown below:

cra example 2

As the ratings are industry specific, the results will be relevant to whatever your company or service provides. So if you have a shop that sells shoes, you could be rated on customer service, range of stock or store presentation. Google will start showing the ratings once it has acquired a sufficient number of results – from at least a couple of hundred and to ideally over 1000 survey responses. They have acknowledged that bigger companies will have an unfair advantage as this ad extension relies on the fact that at least 1000 people have heard of the brand. However, a Google spokesperson acknowledged that “bigger brands will be represented, but that a range of brands of various sizes will be included” from the launch.

So how are these any different to review extensions? Well, because the ratings are an average figure based on the opinions of real people, Google has decided that people are more likely to trust the opinions of other like-minded people over quotations that you have submitted yourself, giving the results a greater weight alongside whatever persuasive ad copy is sitting directly above it.

One disadvantage to note is that unlike other extensions, we won’t have any control over what exactly what will appear in the CRAs. This does eliminate the potential of biased or intentionally-influenced ratings and this means that the ratings will provide a more reliable consumer opinion. Google will only display the best 1-3 ratings so you don’t have to worry about bad results showing and ruining your chance of a click.

Ad extensions serve to strengthen ads and make them stand out by providing people with another factor to help them decide during that 30 second process of typing in a search query, scanning down the first page of results and making the decisive click. Pretty cool feature isn’t it? I’d give this extension an 8/10.