AdWords Expanded Text Ads Are Expanding Your Possibilities

A sea of possibilities with Expanded Text Ads

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10. November 2016

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It is dubbed the greatest change to AdWords in the last 15 years and, unless you do not like change, it is probably already rocking your world. The Expanded Text Ads have been here for quite a while already and they are slowly gaining territory over the Standard Text Ads. 

What Are Expanded Text Ads?

You may not have even noticed that a lot of ads have become bigger in the last few months. Google decided to give its advertisers significantly more space. Ads were given 45 more characters spread over headline, path and description. They are designed for a mobile-first world and are supposed to give users more information before they will click on an ad. More information for users means more opportunity for advertisers. 

Standard text ad on the left, expanded text ad on the right.

What Has the Impact Been like?

You will have to have a little bit of experience in AdWords in order to get excited about having 45 more characters than in an old school ad. The change made a huge impact in the lives of digital advertisers, because in the past they could never be wrong about the layout of the standard text ad: 

Welcome Expanded Text Ads

We decided to look up the longest word in the English language and it happened to be the 45-letter word Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. 45 characters are a lot for digital marketers who have been working with the good old standard text ads for the past 15 years. 

Do I have to Work Harder to Make a Difference in AdWords?

Working harder would be the wrong way to see it. Expanded Text Ads (ETA) give more space to play around in. They give you the possibility to reassess the way you were communicating your message to your customer. It is a game changer. If you have the tendency to overlook your mobile audience, then the Expanded Text Ad will reach out to them for you. You no longer have to tick the mobile box. The ETA is designed for a mobile-first world, and seeing it takes up more space, it shows great performance on the much smaller screen. 

Your fields for the Expanded Text Ad

Do Expanded Text Ads really Make a Difference? 

Because we now take up more space, we obviously also get more space to click on. Some advertisers have reported that some ads get up to 20% higher Click-Through-Rates than old text ads. On the day that the Expanded Text Ad went live, we jumped in. We started rolling out Expanded Text Ads the same day they were available and a few weeks down the line we started seeing astonishing results. Click-through-rates have in some cases hit 40% to 50% and the ETA has beaten the standard text ad across all accounts. 

Expanded Text Ads are delivering results. However, this does not count for everyone. Frank Vallaeys, AdWords Evangelist and CEO of Optmyzr, released the results of a study on 1.2 million ads to see what characteristics the best-performing ads had in common. For some advertisers the ETA has not delivered yet. According to the findings of this study Dynamic Keyword Insertion does not show convincing performance in ETAs. Also, using both path fields might lead to an "overkill". 

Can I Still Create Standard Text Ads?  

If you have not made the switch to Expanded Text Ads yet, it is advised to jump on the bandwagon as soon as possible. Jerry Dischler, Vice President of Product Management of AdWords, hopes that marketeers jump in with both feet, and don’t just "test a little bit here and there". 

If you are not convinced yet, you can still create standard text ads. Although the standard text ad was supposed to be history by the end of October, Google has extended the deadline till the end of January 2017. According to Google standard text ads have had years to go through numerous optimizations, and in some cases the new ETA may not directly outperform the good old. Google must have noticed that people need more time to experiment with the Expanded Text Ad. 

Best Practices for Expanded Text Ads

AdWords, with the expanded text ad, will challenge your creativity a bit more than it used to do in the past. The best practices for writing ad copy are however not that different from those in the past. If you are making the move, just be aware of the following points: 

  • Try multiple versions of expanded text ads. Start out with one Expanded Text Ad, but as you become more comfortable, try at least two to four ETAs in your ad group. 
  • Do not forget what you have learned in the past. Now that you have two headlines, you can experiment with moving around different parts from previously successful ads. If that one headline worked really well, you can now use it as a second headline. In the first headline you can then add more context to make the ad more compelling. 

  • Leave your standard ads running until you see performance. The Expanded Text Ad is here to stay, but that does not mean we have to get rid of the good old days just yet. Now that you still can, take the opportunity to compare the ads side-by-side and only make the final change when the ETA is outperforming.  

  • Use your space. The description field allows to add additional information and to write a strong call-to-action. Don’t be afraid to use the extra space. More is of course only better when you make sure to keep it relevant. 

Are you already using Expanded Text Ads? Let us know what you think in the comments or send me an email.

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