Digital POV: Google Click To Message

In a sign of the continued focus on SMS messaging, Google has released Click-To-Message ad extensions that allow advertisers using AdWords to connect with consumers via SMS text. Consumers are now able to click from Mobile search results to SMS (text) with an advertiser. The ad extension has been in beta testing for the past few months and launched globally to all advertisers on October 18th.

Details and Implications:
Click-To-Message extensions are similar to Google Call Extensions in that a button to SMS text the business appears within the ad unit. The extension only appears on devices that have the capability to use an SMS app meaning that it is exclusive to mobile. Advertisers are able to set up a default message that pre-populates in a consumer’s messaging app when they click on the extension. Click-To-Message extensions are charged like a click on any other aspect of the paid search ad unit (like the actual ad text or a link to a store location) and include day-parting capabilities to ensure the best user experience during and after business hours.

Advertisers that have a business component that’s strongly tied to customer service (retail, finance, dining, entertainment etc.) should test these extensions to understand potential increases in traffic/engagement with their paid search ads as well as the effectiveness of the extension in driving incremental business. The recommendation to test this capability is amplified by data that supports texting as the most widely and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day according to a Pew Research study. From a B2C perspective, there are numerous studies that suggest consumers, specifically millennials, prefer and are highly receptive to receiving product details and communicating with customer service through text messaging.

An important factor for an advertiser to take into consideration when testing this extension (or other messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger) is to make sure their SMS customer service capabilities have the infrastructure and support to handle a potential significant increase in the number of texts coming to their business. For example, if a business has one SMS text number and person handling that experience, they’ll need to be prepared for an increase in text volume to those resources. With the launch of Google Call Extensions several years ago some business saw that their call centers didn’t have the bandwidth to take on the increased number of calls.

Given SMS’ broad adoption by mobile phone users and consumer willingness to communicate with businesses through text, testing the effectiveness of Google Click-To-Message ad extensions (or other messaging platforms) is highly recommended for advertisers that have the capability to communicate with their consumers via SMS. As with any test, marketers should ensure the right measurement is in place to ascertain not only the ROI of the test, but also the scale of the volume driven by the capability and the consumer experience as well.