Google has launched Instant Previews on AdWords ads.
You may recall when Google launched Instant Previews for search results. These let the user click the little magnifying glass to get a visual preview of what the site will look like before they click on the result itself. The whole thing really made it clear that having an attractive design could only benefit you in the Google user interface.
Now the same thing applies to your ads' landing pages.
"Now, we’re bringing the same benefit to ads with Instant Previews for Ads," writes Google's Dan Friedman on the Inside AdWords blog. "Starting today [last night, actually], the Instant Previews icon will appear next to ads on Google.com allowing users to preview the ad’s landing page. With Instant Previews, your customers are able to quickly preview a page to see if its content matches what they’re searching for."
"By allowing potential customers to preview your site before they arrive, Instant Previews helps you get even more highly-qualified traffic to your site," he adds. "Even better, Instant Preview clicks are free of charge -- you’re only charged if a user clicks through to your actual landing page."
Landing pages are obviously very important to the conversion process, so if you didn't have an effective landing page to begin with, you weren't going to have much luck in your search marketing. The Instant Previews should only serve to emphasize that very fact.
I would like to see some data from Google on how often people actually click for instant previews. Personally, I rarely do. It's just an extra step. I can just as easily see the page by clicking on the result once I get there (and I don't know how up-to-date the preview actually is). I can't speak for the average user though. I'm sure some people are clicking on them.
If you're an advertiser, and you don't like the idea of the instant previews, there's not a whole lot you can do it about it. It's not an optional feature. It's just how it is now. " Instant Previews are an integral part of the AdWords search and ads experience for users and advertisers," Google says.
In case you're wondering, Google will not charge you if someone clicks a preview, so that's certainly a positive. It could actually save you some money in the long run.
The previews do not affect quality score in any way. That said, Google does say it will respect robots.txt if you've explicitly excluded AdsBot-Google. "However, this will have significant impact on your Quality Score as we'll no longer be able to assess your landing page quality," the company says.
"The nosnippet' tag relates only to organic web search," Google adds. "We'll continue to show Instant Previews on ads even if the nosnippet tag is present on the ad's landing page."
The feature is already rolling out in the U.S. Google says it will roll it out internationally over the coming weeks.