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October 05, 2018

Google Ads: Increasing Size, Prominence of Expanded Text Ads

by Jillianne Ferullo
Categories: Search Marketing

Google Ads recently updated Expanded Text Ads to include a 3rd Headline and a 2nd Description line. In addition, the character counts for the Description lines have been increased from 80 to 90. These changes nearly double the maximum characters available for a text ad across the ad fields.

As SEM managers, we are excited about the extra fields. Compared to other digital ad types, text ad character counts have long been restricting, limiting creative messaging, call to actions and inclusion of a multiple selling points. Google’s first increase to character count came in 2016, when Expanded Text Ads (ETA) were first introduced. ETAs increased the maximum characters by nearly 50%, from 95 to 140. The most recent update to expanded text ads brings the total character count up to 270.

The Medium Enhances the Message

The additional headline and description give advertisers more space to convey their message. Providing more detailed information and context should, in theory, lead to more qualified clicks, resulting in stronger conversion rates and decrease budget spent on lower quality clicks. In 2016, advertisers saw click through rates increase up to 20% due to the launch of expanded text ads. Now the question is, will we see similar performance improvements this time around?

When strategizing your new lines of copy, it’s important to note that the 3rd headline and 2nd descriptions are not guaranteed to show every time the ad is served. This means ad copy should make sense if the extra lines are omitted. Important information, such as call-to-actions, should be included elsewhere in the ad copy, as well, to ensure all impressions consist of the key information.

An Alternative to Responsive Search Ads

The additional lines allow for more flexibility and testing opportunities. Another related product Google has been pushing recently is Responsive Search ads. For advertisers that want more control over their ads, this provides an alternative to Responsive Search Ads, which are still in beta. With Responsive ads, advertisers can input a variety of headlines and descriptions but Google has the power to mix and match them, testing several combinations. Testing the additional lines of copy may also be an opportunity for advertisers to start building data to identify learnings to be leveraged once Responsive Ads roll out of beta.

Although there are extra characters now in the ads themselves, ad extensions should not be forgotten. Google recommends including at least 3 search ads and 3 extensions for each ad group. Ad extensions have been a way for advertisers to take up more real estate on the search results page. Combining longer text ads and ad extensions, offers advertisers copious opportunities to convey messages.

What This Means for SEM Reporting

Reporting doesn’t identify whether or not the full ad was shown. When evaluating the metrics, we’re using the assumption that all lines of copy were displayed. Bing has yet to roll out the these updates, so advertisers who sync their campaigns across platforms should be mindful when importing.

Results to Date

What results have we seen so far? Compared to regular ETAs within the same campaigns, our initial tests are showing an overall improvement in average CPCs (down 16%) and CTRs (up 41%) for the new longer ETAs. Performance has varied by client, as we often see with new tests, so it remains important to develop testing strategies and make decisions on ad type based on client and campaign goal.