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Expanded Text Ads - is Bigger Better?

Written by Darren | 22-Aug-2016 08:29:00

In February 2016 Google announced the removal of ads from the right hand side of search engine response pages (SERP’s). Equimedia and the rest of the digital marketing world pondered what this meant for paid search and SEO, sceptics and guru’s all debated the change and tried to predict what would happen.

  • Would this mean the big players with big marketing budgets dominate the PPC space?
  • Would this be the death of small advertisers?
  • Are Google making mobile the priority by bringing desktop SERPs in line with mobile SERPs?
  • Are mid position PPC strategies now impossible?

Some of these questions have been answered; some still remain in the balance.

Then Google announced Expanded Text Ads, which provided some clarity on their strategy for PPC marketers. Expanded text ads offer advertisers an extra 47% of ad space. This is a game changer, think of the possibilities! If you work in PPC and write PPC copy, you (like me) will appreciate how much time we have spent over the years trying to squeeze our messaging and USPs in to 95 characters. How many times have we yearned for just one more character? Well, now we have 45 more characters - Christmas has come early!

What do Expanded Text Ads offer that standard text ads don’t?

  • Two headlines (up to 30 characters each)
  • One solitary description line (up to 80 characters)
  • A display URL that uses your final URL’s domain name
  • Two optional path fields, used in the ad’s display URL (up to 15 characters each)

Two headlines of 30 characters each and one long description line of 80 characters means PPC marketers can now be more creative with their messaging and the key calls to action can now sit in the headline along with the brand name.

Expanded text ad

Standard text ad

 We’ve broken down the new text ads to show you exactly what is new:

The race is on to implement fully…

Along with the Expanded Text Ads statement, Google also announced that the existing text ads format looks set to become obsolete, with advertisers losing the ability to create them come October 2016.

With a deadline set against text ads as we know it, the race is on to upgrade all accounts to using expanded text ads across all adgroups. At Equimedia we are firm believers in control, test and learn. We believe in data driven decisions and whilst on the face of it Expanded Text Ads seem extremely likely to boost CTRs and conversion rates, it is crucial to test our new shiny expanded text ads against our existing copy.

The results so far

We must stress at this point that Expanded Text Ads do have a slight advantage as we see many competitors failing to embrace the new format. This allows our clients’ Expanded Text Ads to stand out in the Ad space, more so than they would if Expanded Text Ads were commonplace. So we should be mindful of the ‘early adopters’ bonus. Nevertheless this is still an exciting test!

For one of our clients the initial results for expanded text ads is looking positive! Google and DoubleClick shared recently that they have seen CTR (Click Through Rate) improve by 20%, however we have seen bigger improvements in the first few weeks of testing. Whilst click to conversion hasn’t yet shown significant improvements, we have seen a strong increase in impression to conversion – which is up 16% this week. With a larger character limit we can say more and have greater opportunity to drive conversions from our messaging. With this client in particular, we focused more on emphasising their USP within our expanded text ad and our calls to action all relate to conversion, so we would expect our extra text to impact overall ROI.

Change is the only constant!

One of the main reasons I am passionate about PPC is the ever changing landscape. The innovative nature of media owners such as Google keeps us all on our toes and allows us to continually improve performance with new ideas. Expanded Text Ads are one of the biggest changes we’ve seen since enhanced campaigns and for me, the fact that this is an aesthetic change means it probably is a major game changer.

We now have a fantastic opportunity to service our clients’ needs, grow our accounts and provide users with better experiences. For all those times we have struggled to squeeze our strap lines and call to actions in, there is now a solution! If you’ve ever had a client with a long brand name (longer than 25 characters) this change is really exciting! There’s now a second headline to test, we can alternate headlines and our display paths can be tested in different orders. All of this will help us to understand our audience better and harvest more from our PPC accounts, and I for one cannot wait to roll them out fully across all our accounts!

If you’d like to discuss how we could help you make the most of your PPC please don’t hesitate to get in touch or call 01793 715440.