Today, Google announced the roll out of Consumer Ratings Annotations in AdWords. The annotations spotlight strongly rated aspects of an advertiser’s business such as customer service, a rewards program or shipping practices in search ads.
Along with Review Extensions and Seller Ratings, Google now offers a trifecta of options for displaying customer feedback in search ads. Though not shown in the example above, a Google spokesperson confirmed that Consumer Ratings Annotations can display in tandem with review extensions and sell ratings.
Google reports early testing have shown the Consumer Ratings Annotations can increase click-through rates (CTR) by 10 percent on average. In another version, the company is testing a “More ratings” links, as shown below.
Brian Borkowski, Farmers’ Director of Digital marketing said in a statement, “Consumer ratings annotations help us stand out from competitors and attract new customers. When we looked at our ads that displayed these ratings, we saw an increase in CTR, which speaks to the awareness, trust and impact from this format.”
The ratings data is pulled from the Google Consumer Surveys (GCS) platform, which launched in 2012. Surveys questions are typically served in pop-ups as paywall alternatives on publisher sites. Each rating is based on an average of 1,000 consumer opinions.
Google points out that using GCS helps sidestep the infiltration of less-than-genuine reviews (both positive and negative) of the sort that Yelp and other self-reporting review platforms struggled with.
Google has been managing the surveys and determined which brands to include. Of course that limits the scope of Consumer Ratings Annotations to those brands that have been included in surveys. That fact coupled with the threshold of 1,000 surveys would seem to skew the newest annotation toward large brands. A Google spokesperson acknowledged that bigger brands will be well represented, but that a range of brands of various sizes will be included even at launch.
Unlike traditional ad extensions, advertisers don’t have any control over how and what information appears in their Consumer Ratings Annotations. In this same vein, Google has begun testing so-called Smart Annotations, which automatically pull in landing page information, typically from left-hand navigation. Advertisers do have the ability to opt-out of both programs.
Consumer Ratings Annotations will start rolling out for several hundred advertisers in the U.S., UK and Canada over the next few days. Interested advertisers can contact Google to request consideration for inclusion.