Carphone Google unveiled Image Search Ads in July 2010 but this space is still under-utilized. Many queries that are over­sub­scribed on Search have one or no ads above the same key­word on Image Search. Although there is less vol­ume in this chan­nel than tra­di­tional search, part of the rea­son is scal­a­bil­ity because the process of adding and edit­ing these ads is still very man­ual. Imple­men­ta­tion is only pos­si­ble within Adwords (there is no sup­port for API or Adwords Edi­tor) and you have to upload ads one at a time using the dis­play ad builder.

For mar­ket­ing man­agers run­ning mas­sive cam­paigns at scale (or those run­ning smaller cam­paigns with no time to spare) Image Search Ads can be eas­ily ignored for those reasons.

How­ever, after a recent test with one of the UK’s largest retail­ers, The Car­phone Ware­house, it is clear that Image Search Ads can be a great way to add incre­men­tal rev­enue to an already well devel­oped mar­ket­ing campaign.

We started with an ini­tial test of 8 high vol­ume hand­sets. We dupli­cated the key­words from our ‘Generic’ Adgroups, while tak­ing the mes­sag­ing from the best per­form­ing ad copy for each hand­set. For Images we used ones already in use on the Client’s Web­site. This approach allowed us to imple­ment these ads very quickly to com­pen­sate for the time it takes to man­u­ally upload Image Search ads.

As you can see below, over a 30 day period Image Search ads accounted for 11.69% of clicks, 6.92% of Impres­sions and only cost 1.7% of the budget.


This showed us that CTR was higher, and CPCs were much smaller than Search. Fur­ther­more, despite a rel­a­tively small level of Impres­sions, the high CTR com­bined with low cost makes this chan­nel an extremely effec­tive source of addi­tional traffic.

These fig­ures make it imme­di­ately appar­ent that this is a mas­sively under-utilized chan­nel which should be explored fur­ther.  Addi­tion­ally, from a Brand­ing per­spec­tive this is an allur­ingly cost-effective way to extend your reach. How­ever, these impres­sions and clicks may be just peo­ple brows­ing with no inten­tion of even pur­chas­ing. The ques­tion on ROI-driven Clients minds will be: “how does it convert?”


Unfor­tu­nately our doubts were jus­ti­fied: Con­ver­sion Rates are 68% lower than on Search. This is because, as we expected, a cus­tomer search­ing for Images of Phones is fur­ther up the Pur­chase Fun­nel (i.e. they are still research­ing the prod­uct) and there­fore are less likely to convert.

How­ever, you can see that the other core met­rics are far bet­ter than on Search. If we com­bine these com­pet­ing effects together, we can see that the cheaper CPCs and higher CTRs more than com­pen­sate for the lower Con­ver­sion Rate. The real indi­ca­tion of suc­cess is that despite the lower com­mer­cial intent of the Image Search audi­ence, The Car­phone Ware­house pays 59% less for each sale gen­er­ated by Image Search Ads!

We are now plan­ning to roll these ads out across all of the hun­dreds of hand­sets The Car­phone Ware­house sells because we sim­ply can’t afford to wait for Google to make it eas­ier for us.

These addi­tional sales are likely to be a small piece of the over­all pie and it is a pain to man­u­ally upload these ads one-by-one, but it may be worth try­ing given the increased sales lift.  

Gareth Jones, Head of Online,The Car­phone Warehouse:

“This is a great exam­ple of the incre­men­tal rev­enue avail­able in other chan­nels – we work with Effi­cient Fron­tier to test all new oppor­tu­ni­ties on Google (and else­where) to make sure our scope is as wide as possible.”

Michael Tay­lor,
UK Asso­ciate Account Manager