Google is expanding its mobile advertising inventory by launching a new tool that connects brands directly with consumers over text message through ads in Google Search.
The firm has been running trials of the so-called “click-to-message” scheme for several months already, but a broader rollout is due in the “coming weeks,” according to reports in the US.
The move comes as Facebook is ramping up its own Messenger app as a customer service platform.
Setting up message extensions on Google is claimed to be simple enough for those familiar with AdWords and entails entering additional information under the Ad Extensions tab in AdWords.
Once done, customers searching on Google who use keywords that a company is already paying to be aligned with will now see a little message icon alongside the ad.
When the customer taps this, their default SMS app will open with a pre-populated message — this message is configured in advance by the business through AdWords, though the customer can edit this to suit the nature of their enquiry, according to Venturebeat.com.
But, as John Busby, senior vice-president of consumer insights and marketing at Marchex, recently wrote, offering consumers the option to text (when they already have the option of email or phone) generally increases consumer engagement, but can also cause confusion, as consumers may not have much prior experience with messaging businesses.
He said: “At its best, messaging helps consumers answer basic questions while giving a business insight into a consumer’s intent. [But] there are some situations in which messaging can do more harm than good. Our analysis shows that messaging is not suitable for complex purchases or enquiries, which constitute half of all communications between consumers and businesses.”
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