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6 New Best Practices to Help You Write Expanded Text Ads

January 11, 2018
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We’ve recently experienced some significant hype around the new Expanded Text Ads (ETA) ever since Google announced their Beta back in April and the time has finally come for us advertisers to say what we’ve always wanted to say in our ads! We no longer have to spend as much time on shortening company offers or call to actions, we can even cut down on looking for synonyms in hopes to find the shorter version of our words. But now the feature has officially been rolled out, many advertisers are wondering how to go about writing these ads? Don’t fret; we’ve got you covered.

We all know that writing compelling ad copy plays a pivotal role in the success of our campaigns, with that said, delivering the right message at the right time can improve your ad relevance and drive more qualified traffic. We now have 47% more characters to help us achieve this goal, with two 30-character headlines and one combined 80-character description line. The display URL is also making a change; we no longer have to create one as it will now be automatically generated from your final URL to ensure accuracy.

Why did Google make this change? Some of you could probably guess – mobile. It has been Google’s initiative to cater towards mobile in the recent years, with a rise in mobile usage for search, Google wants to deliver a better mobile user experience. It was the reason behind eliminating the right-hand side ads, and it is the reason now for ETAs. Good news is click-through-rate will increase, but the bad news is that the competition will increase due to the limited space to show on mobile.

For now, let’s focus on getting that click-through-rate up. You’ll notice that many of the best practices we know are still in place, there are just a few new ones to be used in conjunction with them. Let’s dive into the six new best practices to apply while building out your new ETAs.

Improve Ad Copy Quality

Don’t just add text to the end of your headline with filler words; you need to rethink the entire ad copy as a whole. Take advantage of the extra characters and focus on calling out your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). You especially want to make sure you utilize the character limits in the headlines as it will give you more clickable space for your ad, this also means that you should be writing the best possible copy here.

People typically search on Google to find answers, so think about how you can provide the solution to what your customers are searching for and help them make a decision. Try to avoid asking questions, but instead, provide them the benefits of your offering. You should also take a look at what has performed well in the past and use those ads as inspiration to write the new ad copy.

Speak To All Devices

ETAs will show on both desktop and mobile, so make sure you are speaking to all devices in your messaging. We live in a cross-device world, and our ads need to appeal to users across all devices. Along with the new update, it is time to say goodbye to Mobile Preferred Ads (MPA). Instead of creating separate MPA’s, advertisers now can only set a different final mobile URL. We can no longer tailor specific ads to mobile unless we build a separate mobile campaign along with device bidding.

Run New Ad Tests

Now that we have some ideas for the new ad, where to even begin with ad testing? Let’s start with your top 15-20% non-branded ad groups that are high volume to run tests on since these will be easier to identify if there’s a statistical significance. Considering the double headlines are the most prominent aspect of the new ETA, start there and move on to the description line and then the URL path. Keep in mind that you still should only test one variable against each other so you can make a calculated decision on which ad has better performance.

As mentioned, headlines are now the most important field in the new ETAs, so they should be the primary variable that you test. Keep in mind that there’s no guarantee both your headlines will show due to the line break (especially on mobile devices), so your first headline should include the most relevant information or a specific call-to-action. Try to avoid anything “salesy” such as using the word “today”, it gives a false sense of urgency, and those types of headlines no longer work for consumers.

Ultimately you should never assume a headline that works for one campaign will work for the all other ones. An A/B test helps determine which ads resonate the most with your audience. So while you’re building out the new ETAs, you should consider testing:

  • If a CTA performs better in the first headline or the second headline
  • If using all 80 characters in the description line will perform better than shorter ones
  • If appending two 15-character path fields will make your ad more compelling for people to click on




Keep The Old Ads

Although the new feature is very exciting, make sure you test before completely switching over. Keep the old ads running and use a control group to test against the rest of the data. When your new ads start to outperform the old ones, then you’ll know it’s time to switch them all over to the new setup. A close source has revealed to us that ETAs will eventually be the only form of text ads, so it’s better to start now than later on getting acquainted with the new format before we have to say goodbye to our familiar 25-35-35 way. Don’t wait too long, or your competitors could take advantage of the new advertising space, and you’ll lose out on valuable traffic.

Update Ad Extensions

As you create new ads with additional USP that you weren’t able to include before, don’t forget to update your ad extensions to avoid redundancy. If you manage a large account and have too many extensions and ads to keep track of, you could consider taking a shortcut and create new ad extensions then let Google determine which ones to show since it will systematically pick the content that is not duplicated.

Keep An Eye On Budget

Now that your headlines are more prominent your ads will start generating more clicks. It is important that you check in on your budget frequently to ensure that it is not limiting your ads to show or over spending. You want to allocate a decent amount of budget to enable your new ads to run in order to gather valuable data to help your optimizations.

So there you have it, 6 new best practices to help ease you into this new uncharted territory. Don’t be afraid to try out the new feature and give it some time to gather actionable insights. Before we know it, the old format will be long gone, so this is the time to take advantage of testing and experimenting. With more characters to work with in the new format, you can finally say what you’ve always wanted to say!




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