Google’s New Lead Form Ads: What Does The New Ad-Format Mean For Your Business?

Ink, Inc. Group
Nov 26, 2019 · 16 min read

With mobile search advertising on the rise (accounting for more than 50% of total search budgets), Google recently announced a new advertising format on its search network that is exclusive to mobile & tablet devices.

The new feature (officially an “extension” not ad) is Google’s Lead Form Extensions, and it seems to hold a lot of promise in addressing some concerns raised by marketers about the search giant’s competitiveness with new and innovative social media ad platforms.

Officially launched as a “beta” with access limited on some accounts, Google’s new lead form extensions offer the ability to gather user information directly from the Google search results page itself.

The new extensions will display beneath your search ad on mobile and tablet devices, allowing users to submit their contact details without even needing to visit your website — or more importantly, without having to wait for it to load.

For users logged into a Google account, their contact information will be pre-populated in the form, making the process as frictionless as possible. This immediacy will likely play well with mobile users, who are notoriously impatient with page loading times and offer little in overall attention spans.

Compared to Traditional Search & Other Platforms:

First things first, the new lead form extensions are not a replacement for traditional Google search ads; they are a complementary addition to your existing campaigns. Since they are simply extensions, they are listed along with your ad, not an altogether new-type of advertisement themselves.

While lead form ads are new to Google, they have been standard across many social media platforms — including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn — for years now.

The fact that other social networks have “beaten Google to the punch” may not be such a bad thing for the search giant, however. In fact, waiting for a market to mature, then implementing a product offering that accounts for their mistakes has functionally been the key principle behind Apple’s success for decades now.

What Facebook and LinkedIn have done is prove the market for Google. Beyond that, they have also helped normalize the format itself, getting users to become accustomed to seeing lead generation forms in ads and to feel comfortable supplying information through them.

This is no trivial matter, especially in today’s privacy-focused environment, ensuring the product you seek to offer is something users will feel safe with is certainly a top concern. Given the monumental value of Google’s brand, it is no surprise that they waited for others to establish the market before entering it themselves.

In fact, we’ll explain later how Google may actually be planning a broader push into improving the value of mobile search even more than the current all-time high it already sits at.

If you stick with us to the end of this article, we have a treat for you: our own, originally-produced, conversion rate estimates for the new Google lead form extensions. As far as we’re aware, no other marketing blog has taken a stab — likely for good reason too, as operating with such sparse actual data means the estimates are merely an educated guess — but we’re happy to at least get the ball rolling.

How Does It Work?

Lead Form Extensions 101

The first thing to know is that lead form extensions are a campaign-level addition, not something that can be simply added to an ad-group on its own. Keep in mind, this means that all bidding and targeting options must be implemented on the campaign-level.

To add a lead form extension to your campaign, select the desired campaign and then navigate to the “Ads & extensions” tab — as evidenced on the left.

From there, select the “Lead form extension” option (if you don’t see the option, don’t worry, it’s currently a beta feature and will eventually be released for your use).

Adding a Lead Form Extension:

First, you’ll have to pick your call to action (displayed next to an icon) from the following list of choices offered by Google.

• Get quote
• Apply now
• Sign up
• Contact us
• Subscribe
• Download
• Book now
• Get offer

After choosing your call to action, you’ll need to create the text of your extension — a short, thirty-character message appearing next to your CTA.

Finally, you’ll need to create your lead form itself — a very simple prompt comprising of only three main elements: business name, headline (the primary CTA of the form itself), and a description (a slightly longer block of copy — limited to 200-characters — to explain your offer & business).

After that, simply add a link to your company privacy policy, an optional (but recommended) background image, and move on to the form submission message.

This is the screen that will display after a user has successfully submitted their contact details. There aren’t many options here, simply write a description and add an optional call-to-action (such as a link to your website or some additional content you’d like them to visit).

Why Use Lead Form Extensions?

It’s simple: to generate more leads.

Of course, this oversimplification doesn’t offer a great deal of nuance or add much of the surrounding context about why lead form extensions were recently added by Google, but it is correct —and in more than just a “technical” manner.

The lead form extensions are a great opportunity for businesses that are driven by leads and not simply sales alone.

What do we mean by this? If your business is entirely transactionalmeaning you charge a standard fee for products that does not vary depending on who buys it (e.g. an eCommerce site, marketplace, flat-priced SAAS offering, subscription services, etc.) — the lead form extension is likely to be less valuable for you than it is for someone with a client services business model.

On the other hand, if you sell goods or services based on individual quotes, purchase orders, or a value-based pricing model where pricing varies depending on customer or client needs, then you likely will see significant benefit from the new Google lead form extensions.

Marketplace vs. Price-by-Quote Business Models

The reason for this all boils down to mobile traffic and its accompanying strengths and weaknesses. With attention spans at an all-time low, mobile traffic capitalizes and rewards immediacy. Online marketplaces benefit, with customers ready and waiting to hit that “Buy It Now” button, but other businesses — particularly those where serving customers takes time to learn about their needs, consider logistics, and offer bespoke pricing —see a significant loss of online traction as a result.

An engineering firm — like one of our B2B clients, California Energy Designs — cannot simply offer one flat-fee for any size project. There are inherent complexities that take time to analyze, understand, and provide a quote for service costs.

While some businesses — like eCommerce and online publications— cherish mobile traffic, others — particularly some B2B companies and highly-technical industries — consider loathe it. Considered “low-quality,” unlikely to convert, and otherwise undesirable by some companies, mobile traffic is known for being flighty, fickle, and very, very impatient.

In fact, while mobile traffic has taken over desktop in general, desktop users not only spend more total time on sites, visit more pages, and have a lower bounce rate, they also spend significantly more money than mobile users (Sources: Perficient Digital & Business Insider).

This “negative outlook” on mobile traffic is usually consolidated among businesses where deals either take a long time — hence requiring patience and not simply an impulsive mobile-tap on the “buy” button — may require the coordination or approval of multiple people or team members, or involve significant sums of money. Think businesses like engineering firms, consulting companies, logistics organizations, accountants; functionally, anyone who sells “solutions” and many who only sell “services” on a quote-basis.

These businesses are driven primarily by deals that require time, patience, multiple phone calls, learning about client or customer needs, and many more conditions that mobile users typically spurn in favor of immediate actions.

As a marketing agency that manages some clients in highly technical or consumer-inaccessible fields, we have had to make adjustments to account for the low-intent of such mobile visitors. While there are many targeting options, even when including affinity group and in-market selections Google simply doesn’t offer the level user-targeting depth of platforms like Facebook.

While a Facebook or LinkedIn campaign may allow you to target very specific buyer personas (based on personal, identity-based social network data), search campaigns rely more heavily on keywords and search context to infer & determine intent.

Excluding re-targeting or custom audience list strategies — where specific user & buyer persona targeting may be more finely controlled — Google simply cannot offer the level of personal depth that social outlets, networks based on personal identity, can provide. That is no slight on Google, they are simply different platforms with different strengths and weaknesses.

As a result, where social media campaigns may allow some mitigation of typical mobile frictions through precision user-targeting, search campaigns provide only one option: “grit and bear it.

Technically, we’re lying. There is at least one option to combat this — albeit one that Google is unlikely to want you to opt-for — and that is using negative bid-adjustments. With negative bid-adjustments on devices, you can either increase your bid for desktop traffic or reduce — or eliminate entirely — your bid for mobile and tablet traffic.

Negative Bid Adjustments on Devices | Removing Mobile Devices Entirely

Now, of course, this isn’t ideal for Google; not only does it depress bid prices, but it also devalues a major source of their revenue: mobile traffic. Enter lead form extensions, a convenient solution that actually benefits both parties.

By making mobile a viable source for quality leads — without requiring a page load (which Google itself claims will cause 53% of mobile visitors to leave if it takes longer than three seconds) or any on-site navigation (God forbid having to wait again for the “Contact” page to load) — Google can boost its mobile search revenue while also giving B2B organizations an extremely valuable new acquisition tool.

In fact, Google may have found a way to make mobile traffic particularly valuable to such businesses, capitalizing on the impatience and desire for immediacy that may lead mobile users to convert at staggeringly higher ratios (as they do for other lead form ad-types).

The Stats: Forecasting Potential Conversions from Lead Form Extensions:

While the format is very new and no official data has been published yet, we anticipate a strong response from mobile users — who may value the simplicity, ease, and time savings of simply submitting their request on the search page rather than navigating through various website contact forms & pages.

There is, however, a more scientific-route than simply trusting our gut “anticipations” about the feature’s potential success: utilizing the data of similar features on other platforms.

As we mentioned earlier, social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn have had lead generation format advertisements for quite some time now. By analyzing the conversion rate differences between traditional and lead format ads on these platforms, we can estimate a general “ballpark” range for which Google’s new lead form extensions will likely convert customers at.

While the differences between such platforms will likely cause a notable divergence in the ultimate conversion rate statistics, the data projections may still be useful to produce guidance for a meaningful estimate range. The results certainly should not be taken as a one-to-one comparison that will directly apply to this new ad-format; they can, however, serve as a solid starting foundation to make initial test-campaign projections.

Forecasting Conversion Rates with Social Network Data:

First, we must discuss our methodology in approaching this forecast. While this is by no means a “scientific” approach — as we have little true data to work off of — we still must ensure that our projections are a fair and representative estimate of what we intend to analyze.

What do we mean by this? Well, we cannot simply take the conversion rate averages of Facebook and LinkedIn lead ads, as the platforms vary widely — both when compared to Google and each other — in how they are used and what ads gain traction.

When comparing the conversion rate potential of lead generation ads to standard platform ads, it is more about the relative value of lead ads compared to their counterparts, rather than the simply overall effectiveness.

A Visualization of Conversion Rate Differences Between Ad-Platforms

Of course, the overall conversion rate for these different platforms varies quite significantly, so we shouldn’t look at the raw data of direct conversion rates themselves, so much as the difference between conversion rates of lead-format ads and platform averages themselves. Thus, we would be analyzing the “boost” in conversion rate relative to platform-averages.

Applying this “boost” to the platform-specific averages for Google Search Ads will then provide us with the general “ballpark range” of our expected conversion rate for the new lead form extensions.

By relying on data that accounts only for the unique increase in rates, rather than the raw rates themselves, we are — somewhat negating the variances produced by each platform’s unique audience context and attempting to account more for the ad-format itself, rather than the ad-network it is served on.

That said, let’s dive in.

Facebook Lead Ad Results:

The lead form ad-type was originally added to Facebook in 2015, and has had more than four years to mature as a core platform feature.

Since then, users have had a good amount of time to grow accustomed to this new format. Google’s new lead form ad extensions will likely benefit from this, as the ad-format is now a highly-effective method of acquiring user contact details.

Now, in order to compare the unique conversion rate boost offered by Facebook “Lead Ads,” we must first gather conversion rate averages for the platform.

With widespread adoption of the ad format, there is a great deal of public data on the matter. According to WebFX, Facebook’s platform-wide conversion rate ranges between 9–10%, while Instapage pegs it more precisely at 9.21%.

This consistency gives us reason to believe that the data is a fairly accurate representation overall. For simplicity, we’ve opted to use Instapage’s 9.21% figure as the benchmark for our calculations.

Facebook Lead Ad Example | Form Includes a Custom Question

Turning to Facebook’s lead ads, there is a bit more variability to consider in the data, but the approach is still rather simple. While Facebook lead ads allow for the addition of custom questions, Google’s new lead form extensions only provide contact information options. In this case, we’re going to consider comparable forms, meaning we’ll only use data for Facebook lead ads that request just contact information alone.

While there are many factors that impact the overall conversion rate — with number of questions asked causing a huge variance — a comprehensive analysis of over 30,000 campaigns found average lead form conversion rates on Facebook to fall between 15.3 to 33.8% (depending on whether they requested user email, phone, or both contact methods).

That is a whopping 67% boost on the low-end of the range and an astonishing 267% boost at the highest-end (with forms requesting a user’s email information alone) when compared to Facebook ads in general.

LinkedIn Lead Gen Ad Results:

Analyzing the conversion rate data for LinkedIn’s “Lead Gen Form” ads is a bit trickier. While there is immense coverage of aggregated Facebook data-averages (including specifically, conversion rates by individual ad-formats), there is little available data about LinkedIn’s “Lead Gen” ad conversion rate — considering only this specific format alone — particularly not any widely-accepted or authoritative consensus on the matter.

LinkedIn “Lead Gen” Format Ads

It may not be a complete and widely-representative data-set, however, this article by Candace Kim, a Senior Product Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, suggests that “Lead Gen” format ads generally see a 2–3x increase in conversion rate compared to other formats — with at least one client seeing a 20% overall conversion rate, similar to Facebook’s results.

Compared to the platform-average rate of 6.1%, the statement appears accurate and is consistent with our data-set thus far. We’ll use the mid-range of this estimate (a 2.5x boost, producing a rate of 15.25%) just to be safe.

Combining The Data:

The distinct boost offered by lead form ads is strongly consistent between both platforms — with Facebook boosts between 67–267% and LinkedIn falling somewhere in the 200–300% range — and therefore, should give us a solid general idea of the impact of the ad-type itself, rather than the ad-network.

Further, when considering the range of Facebook’s conversion boost, it is more apt to say the “functional range” would fall between 102–267% (as the lowest conversion rate — 15.33% — came when requesting a user’s phone number alone, while asking for a user’s phone number and email brought the rate back up to 18.65% (or a 102% boost).

Taking these figures and producing a simple average of the two — using the lowest-end of the range for each, just to be conservative — would give us a 133% boost in conversion rate when compared to the more traditional platform ads.

At the highest-end of the range, we would see a conversion rate boost of 283% for lead form ads, compared to their alternatives. This is a stellar improvement, no doubt.

Putting this in a more “Google-friendly” context for the PPC Search folks out there: applying this directly to the average search network conversion rate of 3.75%, Google’s new lead form ad extensions would boost your new conversion rates to between 5 and 10%.

What would a 5 to 10% overall conversion rate mean for your business strategy? What kind of impact would it make on your overall marketing effectiveness?

To see the numbers for yourself, try our free Google Lead Form Extension ROI Calculator and crunch the numbers for your campaigns. Of course, keep in mind, these are just estimates based on the method above; they should not be relied upon as a key campaign metric or prediction of future results.

Google’s Actual Trial Data:

Oops. We may have, once again, lied to you earlier in this article, as there there is some official data — provided by Google — about lead form extensions and their performance. However, the information is not a complete and transparent window into lead form extensions’ performance in the wild. A single “mini case study,” selected by Google itself, is all we have to work off of.

You can decide for yourself if the results below seem consistent with our initial projections.

Google provided an example “mini case study” on a company: Totalplay, a telecom provider in Mexico.

Totalplay, a leading telecom provider in Mexico, was having a difficult time getting quality leads from its various digital advertising campaigns. By implementing lead form extensions, Totalplay reached users who were actively searching for internet, TV, and phone services on Google Search. As a result, sales leads closed at a 20% higher rate than other lead generation efforts.

The Roundup: Winners & Losers

While the format is very new and no official data has been published yet, we anticipate a strong response from mobile users — who may value the simplicity, ease, and time savings of simply submitting their request on the search page rather than navigating through various website contact forms & pages.

Who Benefits Most? Businesses & Industries Best-Suited for Google Lead Form Extensions:

In general, speaking in broad terms, businesses that will likely see the most benefit from lead form extensions are those that have a direct relationship with their clients or customers, and particularly those with a lengthy or “case-by-case” sales process.

Functionally, if your business “provides a quote” rather than “offers a storefront,” you may see benefit from the new ad format. If you provide bespoke pricing or have a variable fee structure that depends on the specific project or client, you likely fall into this group.

In general, this means businesses like construction, engineering, installation & repair services, software development, and yes, marketing agencies too.

All in all, the new Google Lead Form Extensions will likely prove a pivotal aspect of any marketing strategy that implements search campaigns to generate new customers, clients, or business.

Learn More About Lead Form Ads:

To learn more about Google’s new Lead Form Extensions and their relevance to your business, get in touch with our team at Ink, Inc. and we’ll be happy to schedule a free consultation.

UPDATE — Explainer Video for Google Lead Form Ad Extensions:

Our team at Ink, Inc. just produced this simple explainer video on Google Lead Form Extensions. It should walk you through the process rather easily as it features many of the tips from our full-length article.

Google Lead Form Extensions Explainer Video | Ink, Inc. Creative Group YouTube

Ink, Inc. Creative Group Based in Brooklyn, NY

NOTE: The data projections above are not recommendations or actionable analytics for businesses to act upon, they are merely conceptual estimates based on similar ad formats. Before making any advertising, commercial, or financial decision, independently-generated statistics that are specific to your company, organization, or personal business should be conducted. Even then, data cannot perfectly account for a situation and any decision that is made upon it will always involve risks.

The Intersection: Creativity Meets Strategy

The official company blog of Ink, Inc.

The Intersection: Creativity Meets Strategy

The official company blog of Ink, Inc. Creative Group, The Intersection focuses on business & marketing matters at the all-important bisection where creativity meets strategy.

Ink, Inc. Group

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Full-Service Marketing Agency in Brooklyn, NY | Official Company Blog of Ink, Inc. Creative Group |

The Intersection: Creativity Meets Strategy

The official company blog of Ink, Inc. Creative Group, The Intersection focuses on business & marketing matters at the all-important bisection where creativity meets strategy.