Expanded Text Ads in AdWords: What You Should Know

Google held their annual GPS Summit in the end of May. We got to hear about all the new features coming to AdWords, and one of those features is currently in active beta for select accounts. I’m talking about Expanded Text Ads. This post will explain what is changing and what actions you may need to take going forward.

How AdWords Ads Will Be Changing

Here is exactly what’s changing.

  • Headlines – Instead of one headline with 25 characters, we’ll get two headlines with 30 characters each. This almost mimics the “extended headline” trick we can do now by adding a punctuation after the first description line. No need for that anymore!
  • Description – Right now, there are two description lines with 35 characters each. Two description lines will soon be changed to to one, 80-character description field. Think of this as a shorter meta description for your ads.
  • Display URL – Advertisers have to enter a display URL manually. With extended text ads, display URL domains will be automatically extracted to ensure ads are never disapproved from a domain mismatch. The URL path of the display URL can still be customized, but can no longer have upper-case letters in them. (see below)

The image below is accurate because it’s what you see when creating an expanded text ad in the AdWords interface. An error on Google’s part in the ad preview is the yellow “ad” logo next to the display URL is now green in live search results. So imagine how these ad examples would look on an actual results page. Long blue headline, green URL, longer description. It’s obvious Google is changing the ad format to look more like organic results.

extended text ad beta

Why are all of these changes important? The 25-35-35 character format for ads has been around the entire 15 year history of AdWords. This is the first major change to have ever happened to the ad format. In other words…it’s a big deal.

When Should I Change My Text Ads?

If your account isn’t in the beta, then all you can do is wait. My co-worker Aaron, who was just at SMX Advanced, was told Google might have their universal rollout in place by the end of July. For those of you who are thinking, “What about Bing?” Good question. Bing plans to have extended text ads as well for everyone by the end of summer.

If you’re wondering how long you have to change your ads before they old format goes away, don’t worry. I reached out to AdWords via Twitter on when the old ad format was going to go away. While they couldn’t give me an exact date, they did assure me we will have plenty of time. There is no need to fear your current ads will disappear in the near future.

adwords old ad expiration answer

What Results Can I Expect from Expanded Text Ads?

Here is one response (with a few replies) from some of our peers in the Twitterverse…

The few people we’ve seen talking about the beta are seeing CTR up, and conversion rates down. It definitely makes sense CTR would be up. Since extended text ads are in beta, not every company is using this format yet. Of course the advertisers in beta will see a rise in CTR right away, but what about after the universal release? My guess is that if you’re an early adopter you’ll initially see CTRs go up until the playing field levels out, and everyone has the same ad format again.

As for conversion rates being down? It’s hard to say why people are claiming this without knowing their industry, account history and many other factors. There isn’t any concrete proof out there yet showing how much of an impact expanded text ads have ad on accounts. We most likely won’t get sufficient information until months after the release.

Summary

The main takeaway here is the fact extended text ads are a mandatory change. You’ll have to adopt it at some point by essentially starting with brand new ads. Users are going to interact and behave differently with your new ads compared to the old. You can’t expect the exact same results. You might have to change your ad voice and messages completely to make the new format work. Longer headlines and descriptions give advertisers the opportunity to be more conversational instead of blasting out the same “buy now” message to every person. It might take some time to find out what truly works for your company with this new ad format. Finally with any major AdWords change, always monitor your accounts closely to get the proper data you need to make updates to this change.

Update 7/26/2016: AdWords has announced that Extended Text Ads are now live. Also, advertisers won’t be able to create or edit standard text ads starting on 10/26/2016. Still no word on when the standard text ads will go away completely. 

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About the Author

Joe Martinez

Joe Martinez is the Director of Paid Media and Community for Granular in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is also the current and founding President of MKEsearch. His focus on marketing psychology and user experience helps his clients achieve record growths and lifetime customers. While he is hands-on in all aspects of PPC, his true passions lie in Display, Remarketing, and YouTube. In addition to being the main blogger for Granular, he is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land and has also written for PPC Hero, SEMrush, Leadpages, Optmyzr, Unbounce, WordStream and AdStage. He has hosted webinars for SEMrush, Unbounce, and Bing Ads. He regularly speaks at conferences such as SMX Advanced, SMX West, SMX East, HeroConf, Confluence Conference, Digital Olympus and more. He was named a Top 25 Influential PPC Expert by PPC Hero in 2017 and 2018.