Understanding Google’s Expanded Text Ads Trifecta

Sep 21, 2016

On July 26, Google once again expanded its efforts to seamlessly unify its mobile and desktop experiences with the announcement of three new features – Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), Device Based Bid Adjustments, and Responsive Display Ads.

These developments, which were initially announced at Google’s Performance Summit in May and arrived in the wake of the conglomerate’s axing of their right hand side ads earlier this year, marked the biggest change in Google text ads since the advent of AdWords 16 years ago.

Making the Most of Expanded Character Limits

With Expanded Text Ads, gone is the 25, 35, 35 headline/description hierarchy.  Taking its place are now two 30-character headlines, and one, consolidated 80-character description, totaling 140 characters – a net gain of 45 characters in ad space. At 47% more copy, that’s almost twice the size of former ads.

Additionally, the main domain URL is now extracted automatically by AdWords to ensure accuracy, which users can further enhance with up to two 15-character paths.

While this new format is currently coexisting with existing standard ads, the latter are gradually being phased out, and as of October 26 this year, advertisers will no longer be able to create or upload standard style ads.

What does this mean for ad writers worldwide? Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Also: practice makes perfect. Those in the know are advising advertisers to take a slow, measured approach to writing new ads while the dust is settling on this new approach.

Expanded character limits will likely result in some fluctuation in stable accounts as larger ads are introduced – specifically with Click Thru Rate (CTR) and Cost per Click (CPC) – and clients should expect to see some ups and downs.  A good practice, in the early days, will be to keep old ads that are performing well active while new ads are introduced, and make adjustments as we see which longer ads are performing.

A New Way to Prefer Mobile  

By default, AdWords will now target all devices – mobile, desktop, and tablet – equally. With Device-Based Ad Bidding, gone is the ability to select “mobile-preferred” within your ad groups. Advertisers lamenting that loss, however, need not fear – a workaround exists simply by creating a mobile specific ad group and adjusting the bid adjustments accordingly.

Introducing Responsive Display Ads

With Google announcing that Flash ads would no longer be supported by the end of 2016, the release of a new and improved Responsive Display Ad format was another welcome piece of news. Featuring a short, 25-character headline; a long, 90-character headline that displays when size permits; a 90-character description that allows for greater messaging control; and the option to include a large photo or logo, Responsive Display Ads will promise to provide advertisers with far more versatility.

It is important to keep in mind that all of these changes are being made to unify the Google experience across all platforms. The key, now, will be effectively leveraging this new trio of AdWords tools to maximize your message’s impact.

In Part 2 of this blog series, we will examine best practices for Expanded Text Ads. Stay tuned!

– Terri Hesse, Digital Marketing Manager

IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations, LLC

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