Google updates AdWords to let businesses chat with customers through advertisements

The new feature is called click-to-message ads. A select few partners are already using the service.

Messaging is a convenient platform for both businesses and customers to interact. Facebook, Google and Microsoft have all promoted the untapped potential of conversations during developer conferences held over the course of this year.

For businesses, it gives a direct line of communication with the customer. The customer can participate whenever they can afford the time and attention, and continue the conversation later.

Google has announced a new feature for advertisements shown in search results, that allows businesses to chat with their customers. For those businesses that use the feature, there will be a messaging option shown below the calling option attached to the advertisements. On tapping the chat bubble icon, a pre-generated text message selected by the business opens the conversation.

Google consumer surveys conducted in US, Canada, Australia and UK show that sixty five percent of consumers are open to the idea of texting with a business to get information or schedule an appointment.

The new feature is called click-to-message ads. A select few partners are already using the service. Gavin Chan, Digital Marketing Manager of AnyVan says "Click-to-message is a useful tool that allows consumers to engage with our business in a way that’s comfortable and efficient for them. They could be on their commute or in a rush, so they can text us quickly through click-to-message. It’s also a good medium to get questions answered that aren’t addressed on our website, or to reach us during hours when our office is closed."

Gavin Parker, Paid Search Manager, Auto & General says "The results from click-to-message have been phenomenal and we've seen a 80 percent higher conversion rate when compared to other similar channels. We can now tap into an important consumer base that prefers to use SMS to learn more about our insurance products."

Businesses can integrate chat with their advertising by setting up message extensions. The feature is expected to roll out over the course of the next few weeks. The click-to-message feature will be available to advertisers at no extra cost.

The problem with the feature as of now is that it triggers an SMS interaction. A better implementation is to integrate with the more common instant messaging applications such as Telegram, WhatsApp and Messenger. The feature could potentially tie into existing chatbots by the businesses on these platforms. SMS is an outdated and expensive form of chatting, and is bound to be less engaging as an instant messaging application.

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