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Seller Rating Extensions: What's Your Rating?

We’ve previously discussed the benefits of Sitelinks, Product Extensions, and the various pros and cons of those offerings. It’s been a month since AdWords Seller Rating Extensions went live, but is the extension helping or hurting you? What are Seller Ratings? On June 28th, Google officially introduced Seller Rating Extensions after several months of limited testing. This new AdWords extension attaches a star rating, aggregated from a number of review sites, to the bottom of AdWords ads along with a link to excerpts from actual customer reviews.

Ads are automatically eligible for Seller Ratings if they are opted into Google search, have campaigns targeted to the US, and the advertiser has at least 30 unique reviews and an average rating of 4.0 or more on Google Product Search. Advertisers are not charged when a user clicks the “reviews/rated” link. Check your rating here: http://www.google.com/products/seller?zmi=google.com – replace “google.com” with your domain. Analyzing the Data It is important to point out that although we have asked, Google does not currently provide data regarding how often users directly interact with Seller Rating Extensions or even how often they appear for a given ad. The “reviews/rated” link takes users off the SERP, where they might abandon their search, decide to purchase from another retailer due to one or two particularly scathing reviews, or find that instead of clicking “Back” on their browser and then on the PPC ad itself, it is more convenient to type the domain into their address bar; all of which lead to the loss of a potential tracked click. The following analysis disregards those rare instances and focuses instead on the effect that the 4-5 stars appearing under an ad have on users’ decision to click. Something also worth nothing is that Google will randomly show only one extension at a time (ex. either Seller Ratings or Products will show on a given ad). So to better isolate the effects of this new extension, we excluded clients that were also running other extensions (Product Extensions, Location Extensions, Sitelinks, etc.) from this analysis. We looked at performance for top non-brand keywords for the four weeks immediately preceding and following the launch of Seller Ratings for two clusters of clients, ones that were eligible to show the extension, and ones that weren’t. The results were then normalized to minimize the effects of ad copy changes, bid changes, seasonality, etc. Preliminary Results For clients that were eligible for Seller Ratings, we saw a 0.09% increase in average Click-Thru-Rate and a 0.48% increase in average Conversion Rate for top non-brand keywords. Upon further analysis, we found that when there were fewer than three other advertisers on the page with Seller Ratings, average CTR increased 0.11% and average CR jumped up 1.04%! For clients not eligible for Seller Ratings, average CTR decreased slightly by 0.06% but average CR fell 0.40%. Preliminary Conclusions
  • The effectiveness of Seller Ratings depends largely on how many of your competitors are eligible. Advertisers that are not eligible seem to be the most adversely affected.
  • If you’re not eligible for Seller Rating Extensions (30 reviews, 4+ stars), encourage satisfied customers to write reviews and/or connect your Bazaarvoice or PowerReviews account (if you have one) with the Google Product Reviews Program; especially if you’re not running any other extensions.
  • If you’re eligible, don’t opt out of Seller Ratings; if anything, consider turning off all other extensions (including Sitelinks) in select campaigns so Seller Ratings are showing each time extensions are eligible to test their impact on your own CR. Users might not think you’re highly-rated enough if Google shows Seller Ratings for your competitors but not you (see below). We tried turning off other extensions for one Seller Rating eligible client that enjoyed an immediate average CR bump of 0.11%.

It is currently unclear whether or not Seller Rating Extensions will follow the trend of Product Extensions and Sitelinks and decline in effectiveness as the novelty wears off. However, the current impact on CR seems very apparent with all retailers standing to benefit. Smaller retailers with low brand recognition benefit by offering peace of mind to potential first-time customers while larger retailers can show off their “PowerSeller” status by touting their thousands of highly-rated reviews. Google has created a great product that indirectly rewards merchants that consistently provide excellent service. If Google eventually decides to expand the extension to show ratings of less than 4 stars and incorporate it as a permanent component of all AdWords ads, Seller Ratings may yet become a larger deciding factor for users shopping online. But in the meantime, are you seeing a similar performance lift on your Seller Rating ads?
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