December 15, 2016

Google Expanded Text Ads: Out with the Old, in with the New?

Expanded Text Ads – Are they better than regular text ads?

Expanded text ads are the new format of Google AdWords text ads. The Google PPC ads are designed for mobile more than web search and represent the increasing usage of mobile devices over desktops & laptops. They also give advertisers more options to play with their content, expand their ad space and, consequently, increase their ads’ visibility.

What’s new in Expanded Text Ads?

Google expanded text ads character limits and template:

  • 2 headlines that contain 30 characters each
    Regular text ads contain one headline limited to 25 characters
  • 1 long description line composed of 80 characters
    Regular text ads contain two description lines limited to 35 characters each
  • The Display URL is automatically filled in by the Final URL
    In regular text ads, the Display URL is filled in manually
  • 2 path fields are available to extend the Display URL
    Regular text ads do not have the “path” feature – any addition to the Display URL is filled in manually

Google expanded text ads example:

Expanded Text Ads: Regular Text Ads:
expanded-ads regular-ads

Starting February 2017, advertisers will no longer be able to create regular text ads. The old regular text ads will continue running, but AdWords campaigns will only support expanded text ads for new ads.

It seems like a great perk for advertisers, who can now present more data per ad and don’t need to manipulate phrases to stay within character limits.
But is it really going to improve results?

We conducted a test over the last two months to see how CTR (Click Through Rate) is affected by the change (note: the test only applied to campaigns running in the US). The results were:
Regular text ads: 9.3% CTR
Expanded text ads: 6.84% CTR

In many cases, a lot of information may be perceived as too much information. The user can get lost along the way, skim the ad and miss the intent of the offer, or just skip reading it altogether. In regular text ads, advertisers try to catch users’ attention with a very relevant headline, and follow it with a short explanation. In expanded text ads, the advertiser more than doubles the headline, the description can be longer and therefore, especially if Google decides to present all the ad extensions, then the users face more information than they expected their search to yield.

More concrete results on the performance of expanded text ads versus regular text ads are currently pending further testing. Time will tell if the innovation is beneficial, or whether Google should revert to regular text ads.

Tips for creating expanded text ads:

  • Include your top keywords in the ads, especially in the first headline where most of the user attention will be focused.
  • You now have more space to describe your product in the description line – use it to create as much differentiation as you can from your competitors.
  • Always A/B test the new ads compared with the old regular ads.
  • Adjust your ad to be mobile-compatible. When creating the ad, there is a mobile preview that allows you to see how the ad will appear on mobile devices – avoid a situation where a line is too long and gets cut off to adjust to the frame.
  • Use the Display URL paths to increase your ad visibility & relevance.

If you have questions regarding expanded text ads, Google ads in general, or anything related to user acquisition, contact us!

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