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AdWords Expanded Text Ads

Expanded Text Ads is the biggest game changer to AdWords since the program rolled out. Other updates have forced changes over the years, but many of those updates have been rolled back over time. When it comes to expanded text ads, the change is so big, there is no going back. Like it or not, ETA’s are here to stay. Before you make the transition from standard text ads, there are a few things you should know.AdWords Expanded Text Ads

What’s Changed?

Two headlines instead of one

Not only has the number of prominently displayed headlines doubled, the character limits of each headline have increased. As opposed to the 25 character limit of standard text ads, expanded text ads allow for 30 characters in each headline. That’s over double the highlighted text in each ad!

No more display URL

A display URL still technically exists. However, Google automatically generates the display URL based on the final destination URL used in the ad. You can add up to two additional path extensions, but you no longer have to manually add a display URL. This eliminates the possibility of editorial errors of the display URL. As well as saves you a step every time you create a new ad.

Mobile and desktop destination URL

This is the first time Google has allowed multiple destination URLs for a single ad. You no longer need to create multiple campaigns or adgroups to insure that you land mobile device users on a mobile friendly page. Conversely Google has also removed the option on having a mobile preference for text ads. Now that device bid adjustments are available again, you can still create mobile only campaigns or adgroups, but you no longer have to.

More total characters

In addition to longer headlines, the ad text description has increased from a total of 70 characters to 80. That may not seem like much, but it means the total number of characters in an ad has increased from 95 to 140. If you are using a mobile focused strategy, you still have to take the smaller display size of mobile devices into consideration. You don’t have to use all the available characters if you don’t want to, but more options are always better than fewer.

Expanded Text Ads Strategies

The display URL is first

By featuring the display URL before the headlines, the need to prominently feature your business name is not as much of a priority as with standard text ads. This can be a very beneficial change, especially when it comes to protecting your brand. Your competitors can no longer hide behind deceptive ad text by burying the display URL lower in the ad.

Each headline is a unique value proposition

This can be either a benefit or a drawback, depending on how you look at it. While you have five fewer characters for each headline than the previous lines of ad text, each headline is highlighted and more prominent in the ad. Allowing special sales or promotions to stand out and capture the users attention. If you can be more creative than your competitors as to how you frame your UVP, fewer characters may actually be more effective.

Ad text and ad extensions blend together

With the ad text no longer as prominent, it makes writing compelling headlines even more important. In addition Google has also announced that ad extensions will factor into the quality and relevance ranking factors of the ads. Arguably the ad text is the least important part of the ad now, but still cannot be overlooked. You will want to make sure that your ad extensions compliment your new ETA’s. Not only should you take this opportunity to re-evaluate your ads, but your ad extensions as well.


Take your time before you make the transition

It’s not enough to simply convert your existing standard text ads to expanded text ads. You have to take all these factors into consideration beforehand. If not, then you risk creating less effective ads by ignoring the differences between standard and expanded text ads. Pick the best performing ad text of your standard text ads, and experiment with using them as headlines for expanded text ads.

Don’t assume ETAs and STAs will perform the same

You will not be able to create any new standard text ads as of January 31, 2017. However, Google has not yet set a firm date for when standard text ads will no longer be served. Given that historical click through rate is one of the most important factors in determining quality score, make sure you take all the time you can to analyze performance – Before you pause or delete all of your standard text ads. It may take some time to build enough history for your expanded text ads to perform as well as your standard text ads.

Test your new Expanded text ads

Always be testing! The one thing that has not changed is the need to analyze, test, and optimize your ad content. What may have worked with standard text ads may not with expanded text ads. Consider keeping your best performing standard text ad as a control, and take as much time as necessary to experiment with with expanded text ads. Once you find a new control ad, keep repeating the process over time. Expanded text ads change every other aspect of AdWords. Since the ads are the only part of the account the end user actually interacts with, only time will tell how much account structures and strategies need to change as well. Take your time, keep testing, and most importantly – Don’t Assume Anything!