Expanded Text Ads - Your Questions Answered


What Are Expanded Text Ads?

Google expanded text ads or extended ads is the new format that all text ads will have to take. The ‘next generation’ of text ads, they represent Adwords biggest change to the platform since it’s launch in the year 2000.

They allow your ads to include 140 characters instead of 95, almost 50% more text to sell your yourself with.

google expanded ads vs regular.jpg

Example of a standard text ad versus an expanded text ad

What Are The Main Differences?

The easiest way to demonstrate the differences is with a table… queue table:

The old format gave you one headline field - the clickable blue text in search - and 2 lines of descriptive text which are used to persuade people to click the headline. Now you get two headlines and one massive 80 character limit description.

They’ve also changed the way the display URL works: extracting the URL directly from the final URL field.

For example:

  • http://flow.co.uk/services/digital-marketing

Would become

  • flow.co.uk/services/digital

You can still amend the 2 URL fields manually however; e.g. flow.co.uk/services/ppc

When Will They Be Rolled Out?

The new format has been available since the 26th of July and will become mandatory from October 26th. If you haven't amended your ads before this date, they will presumably automatically stop. Expect lots of alerts from Google up to this point!

Why Are Google Doing This?

Officially, Google say that the new format ads had “dramatically increased CTR – by as much as 25 percent”. This is presumably due to the fact the ads take up a lot more retail space, especially on mobile where you may find yourself scrolling to get to the non-paid results.

Google’s Senior Vice President, Sridhar Ramaswamy stated: “These upgrades help your ads work harder across screens, especially for the on-the-go mobile consumer that wants to know exactly what you offer before tapping into your website.”.

This is Good news for Google as more people will be clicking on paid ads but also good news for those not fortunate enough to rank well organically for their desired terms.

How You Can Implement Them?

You will no longer see the option to create an old format ad if you’re using the browser version of Adwords so any new ads you create will automatically follow the new format. You can still edit old ads but these will be phased out on the october 26th.

If for some reason you want to stick to the old ways, you can still write new ads using Adwords Editor. You’ll see the new ‘expanded text ads’ option in the left hand menu just above the traditional ‘text ads’ option.

Ads in Adwords Editor.JPG

What creating ads looks like in Adwords Editor

Any Tips On Writing Expanded Ads?

Just because you’ve been given more space doesn’t mean you should race to fill it. Concisely written, punchy copy will always prevail over drawn-out waffle. As usual, experiment by running several ads at the same time.

Don't be lazy either. It can be tempting to just rejig your existing ads by taking the first description line and making it the second title line but you're not adding anything new this way. Use the new characters to enhance your call to action; include another USP or value proposition.

Don’t pause all of your old ads immediately, phase in the new format over a longer time period. Start with your performing ads and create substitute ads that run alongside the . The goal should be to get a better conversion rate with the new ad before switching off the old ad.

What We’ve Discovered

As soon as something new comes out we like to jump on it ASAP. When something is new and different it stands out has a positive effect on click through rate. We found this to be the case when Facebook launched their carousel style ads: the new style commanded attention and as a result, click through rate increased by 200% on average.

We took a sample of client’ top converting ads and ran expanded ads alongside them. In most cases, click through rate increased; backing up Google’s initial tests. The extra characters mean we’re able to express ourselves more coherently - every PPC knows how annoying it can be to write the perfect copy only to realise you’re over the limit by 1 character (-1).

If you’ve got a good SEO game, you may find your organic traffic dropping slightly. The extra room given to paid ads means organic listings have been pushed down on the search page, making it more necessary than ever to run a solid paid campaign alongside your SEO. Like Facebook’s Carousel Ads, the spike in interested will likely level out as time goes on so take advantage of the new extended text ads before they become the norm.

Ian Ferguson

Digital Marketing Manager

Ian is our digital marketing specialist and manages client strategy on a daily basis. He shares his expertise on what's happening in the world of search and social media marketing.