Barney Durrant
Barney Durrant 29 July 2016

The Lowdown On Google's Expanded Text Ads

A major change has started to roll out to every AdWords account. Google has launched expanded text ads, which give advertisers extra space for their messaging on AdWords.

This is a huge change as Google's familiar short title followed by two lines of text ad format has served it well since the beginning of AdWords.

Why has Google decided to give more space to advertisers? This change follows on closely from another major change earlier this year when Google removed the righthand side ads from its desktop search page results. The expanded text ads are part of a move from Google to make it results more uniform across all devices, which has seen it adopt the style of mobile results, which always featured ads above and then below the organic results. 

Taking advantage of the extra space freed up by losing righthand ads on desktop and producing a better mobile experience are the major drivers for this change. Having more characters to play with on mobile means that advertisers can give people more useful ads and drive better clickthroughs and results.

Certainly from a digital marketer's perspective this can only be a positive change, as many will be well-used to the struggle to fit in industry jargon, complicated messaging or compliance-related terminology into the very limited space of the regular AdWords text ads.

For the moment, the new format will run alongside the standard text ads and Google's advice for now is to experiment with the new longer format with your existing text ads. However, Google is going to quickly start to encourage all advertisers to move to the new format with an October 26th cut-off date for adding any new standard-length text ads. This doesn't mean standard ads will be switched off on the date, but for all practical purposes it does mean that you will need to have your expanded text ads in place by that date across all ad groups ready for the real deadline.

Brands need to make sure they have spoken to their agencies or in-house teams on expanded ads to get the transfer period kickstarted, especially those with very large accounts. Naturally, it will be quite a time-consuming task to switch every single ad over to the new format.

The new format changes by having two headlines of 30 characters each and then an expanded description of up to 80 characters. The standard text ad had a single headline of 30 characters and then two lines of description of 35 characters each. 

As you can see, there is now quite a lot of extra room on AdWords for advertisers to express themselves. Beyond the practical plans that need to be put in to place to prepare for the switchover, brands should also have a conversation with their agencies about how they are going to use the extra space. The space is still precious, so make sure it isn't being padded out with bland straplines and that your agency is working hard to make it count and really taking advantage of the extra copy.

Having been part of the beta test of this feature at Bluebell Digital, we have seen improvements in clickthrough rate and conversion performance for the new ads. However, for particular clients it can be very useful. We have clients in the mobile industry, who have lengthy phone contract propositions and the extra space has allowed us to fit in more of the compelling reasons to buy a certain offer. Another client is in a scientific industry where there are lots of long pieces of terminology to fit in to a limited space to describe their services, so this has been a great improvement for them also.

Check out Google's own guide to expanded ads here for more tips and examples

With a little planning and preparation this should be a positive change for your AdWords campaigns. Please share any experiences you have had with the new format and feel free to contact us for further advice.

Bluebell Digital helps clients run effective social media and digital campaigns and write great content people want to share.

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