In the latest shake-up in the world of AdWords, Google rolled out a closed beta for expanded text ads starting in Q2 of 2016. This update came soon after Google’s last big SERP change when they removed the right hand rail ads completely. If you haven’t yet received the details surrounding this update, then you’re probably wondering, what are expanded text ads exactly? How will they benefit advertisers and businesses in the long run? What are the best practices for using this beta to your advantage? Read on to learn about the latest details and expected impact surrounding this beta.
What are Expanded Text Ads?
In essence, expanded text ads are exactly what they sound like. With this beta, Google is giving advertisers 80 characters to work with in description lines (versus the current 70), 2 full headlines with 30 characters each (versus the current 25), as well as a display URL field that auto extracts the domain from the final URL and includes up to 2 separate paths (versus manual display URL input and 1 path). Ultimately, this means Google is giving advertisers nearly 50% more characters to work with in the headlines and description lines alone. Additionally, each display URL has 2 fully customizable paths that can be added in at 15 characters each, whereas previously advertisers were given 35 characters total for the entire display URL, including the root domain.
Part of Google’s new expanded text ad design is that there will no longer be two separate description lines. The headlines will extend across the page (regardless of device) and there will be extra room to highlight your products or services. Google updated the design for a more mobile-optimized experience, especially now that right hand rail ads no longer exist.
How will this benefit advertisers and businesses?
We already talked about how crucial it will be moving forward to secure those top of page results in our article about Google removing the right hand rail, and now that real estate will be more valuable than ever as advertisers expand their ads and take up almost 50% more ad space. Google reports that the expanded ads have the potential to generate a CTR up to 20% higher than current standard text ads, depending on the way the account is set up.
Beyond the increased space to highlight products and services, advertisers will now have more control over what messaging appears next to their headlines. In the current AdWords text ads, Google chooses when/where to display a description line next to the headline of your ad. With Expanded Text Ads, you as the advertiser control exactly what line of text will now appear next to your headline.
Additionally, the display URL functionality that Expanded Text Ads brings will prevent ads from being disapproved by manual error of a display URL not matching up with your final URL domain. Advertisers can also use the 2 new path features to better describe the specific landing page experience (and they have more room to make the display URLs keyword-centric for Quality Score purposes).
What are the best practices to use this beta to your advantage?
In line with current text ad best practices, advertisers will definitely want to ensure they’re maximizing their new character limits as much as possible, and not repeating the same messaging more than once (including within ad extensions). Given how much these text ad constraints are changing, this may mean writing entirely new ad copy to fully leverage all the new features Google has to offer. A good place to start given that ads will likely need to be re-written from scratch, is prioritizing your top performing ad groups.
With this latest beta following the decision to remove right hand rail ads completely, Google is pushing for higher quality top of page ads on the SERP, and Quality Score will be more important than ever. With the highest ranking ads at the top of the page taking up even more real estate, maintaining top of page results will be crucial to generating a strong CTR (especially on mobile). Google has not yet released the exact date it is fully rolling out this update, but this closed beta is expected to launch this summer. A few of our clients are enrolled, and we’ll be testing and reporting back on results once the beta launches.