Google’s Biggest Update In Years: AdWords Expanded Text Ads

Google definitely likes to keep us on our toes.

When it’s not an algorithm update or a different way of reporting keyword search volumes, it’s something else, like changing Adwords text’s format to Expanded Text Ads (ETAs). Although both formats are currently co-existing, Google is phasing the old format out by preventing the creation of new ads using the retired format as of January 31st, 2017.

What are the changes?

Until now, writing AdWords has been an exercise in brevity. With a headline 25-character long and two descriptions lines 35-characters long each, it could be challenging to describe services and goods in an engaging manner while also integrating relevant keywords.

expanded text ads

You will now have 140 characters in total to play with: two headlines of 30 characters each appearing next to each other, separated by a hyphen; and a single description line which is extended to 80 characters. AdWords will now extract the domain from the final URL automatically and advertisers will be able to add two extra URL paths – at a maximum of 15 characters each. What this means is that a degree of effort needs to be put into the construction of an AdWords ad and good wordsmiths will be rewarded over competitors using the seemingly more robotic wording styles of old format text ads.

What are the reasons behind this change?

One of the main reasons for this change is to adapt to the cultural change introduced by Smartphones and tablets. Browsing has shifted away from desktops, and to keep up with this trend, Google introduced several changes over the last few months to deliver a unified experience, whichever device you browse the internet from.

A few months ago for example, the right-hand sidebar where ads lived for 15 years, disappeared, to instead be integrated into the main column of the search results page, either in four slots at the top or three at the bottom of results. This brought display layouts for desktops and smaller screens closer. Expanding the character count for Adwords is just the next step in this process of cross-device continuity.

How will it affect results for advertisers?

In early testing of the new format, Google found that this seemingly small change increased the Click-Through-Rate by up to a whopping 25% – this is a traffic growth that all of us website owners and advertisers would certainly be happy with! In addition, having longer headlines will certainly make it easier to write compelling ads.

How to manage the transition?

1) First of all, don’t delete running campaigns with the old AdWords format.

Google has given us a transition phase to give advertisers time to create new ads to replace the old, which for some accounts can run into the thousands! The transition time also allows advertisers to get a feel for the effect that the new ad formats will have on their campaigns before committing completely to ETAs.

This is an interesting point as many users are already reporting that whilst click through rates may be higher, conversion rates don’t always follow suit – and that’s all anyone really cares about. Perhaps this is due to curiosity or confusion around the new ad format driving more unwarranted clicks. Nevertheless, This Side Up recommend keeping the old ad formats live alongside the new and transitioning smoothly over time based on performance.

Also, although you officially have 60 characters for the headlines, advertisers have reported that some of the second headline can get truncated on desktops when the headline doesn’t get wrapped, so you may want to experiment with lengths.

2) Review / rewrite your ads

When it comes to writing ads to the new format, the same principles still apply; only that the added character count will allow you to create more meaningful and descriptive ads. Make use of the extra text available to get your company’s personality and USP across.

Touch on the pain points you are solving and remember to add a call-to-action. It’s great that potential customers are reading your ad, but what you really want is for them to engage you, so tell them! “Book now”, “Try today” or “Contact us for our latest offers” are all effective prompts to visit your website.

3) Look forward to raising your Quality Score

It has always been an important metric and as the AdWords space becomes more crowded with advertisers, gains in this area are becoming more and more valuable. Expanded text ads offer a great opportunity to boost your QS through more tailored ad copy so be sure to leverage it.

4) Improve load speed

The loading speed of your webpages is going to become increasingly important now that Google is putting an emphasis on mobile traffic. Factors that affect speed are meta refreshes, multiple and slow re-directs, a slow server, and interstitial pages. If your website is image heavy, make sure that picture files on your website are optimised for the web.

This Side Up are a Google Adwords Premier Partner and offer an awesome range of performance marketing services including AdWords management. To find out more, call us on 09 360 2299 or send us an email via our website.

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