Google’s deadline for transitioning from Standard Text Ads to Expanded Text Ads has been extended to January 31st, 2017. As Head of PPC at Obsidian Digital, it is my responsibility to keep my team and our work up to date with Google’s many AdWords updates.
Therefore, here are some steps and tips to make the most of the extended deadline.
On September 13, 2016, Google announced an extension to the deadline to test, iterate and transition from standard text ads to extended text ads. This means after Jan 31st, 2017 it will no longer be possible to create or edit standard text ads.
Here’s how to make best use of the extra time, based on:
- Guidance and steps for a successful transition to ETAs
- A reminder of the benefits of ETAs; and
- The best practices to make the most of the new format.
Guidance and steps for a successful transition to ETAs: Experiment, Test, Optimize
Select which ads to test your new ETAs with and experiment with different options with the new space available. Begin with your headlines and test different implementations: remember, headlines can be shorter but are probably best supported with a second heading. Experiment with testing (see below) to determine whether the call to action or copy should form Headline One or Two.
One way to approach this is to examine your most successful standard text ads and the potential for using or adapting an existing description line as the Headline 2 in the new ETA. Remember though that the two headline messages need to be complementary and work as a cohesive whole, so think carefully about the best supporting headline.
A suggested testing method is with multiple versions of expanded text ads – 2 to 5 per ad group. Run the new ETAs alongside your standard text ads until the ETAs are solidly performing better than the standard versions.
Reminder – when you open a standard text ad to edit it, the default setting is to bring up the expanded text ad, with the standard text ad content used to automatically populate the new Expanded Text ad. Bearing in mind your planned testing schedule, if you want to still have the original standard text ad available, select Copy and edit from the drop-down box.
With regards to testing –
- Keep a schedule of what you are changing.
- Be disciplined to wait until each iteration has enough impressions (bi-monthly could be a good starting point).
- As with any testing, optimize by changing one thing at a time – note the results, iterate and retest. This will allow you to build a strong hypothesis, test and document the results and move to the next iteration.
A reminder of the benefits of ETAs — it’s all about delivering the right message at the right time in the best format.
Over half of all searches happen on mobile and the new Expanded Text Ads are designed to help you to optimize your presence on mobile search. The new format improves ad performance on both mobile and desktop search results and provides a better experience for the user. This is because the extra information provided delivers better-informed consumers as they are about to click through.
Simply put, the new Expanded Text Ads allow more clickable space for ads and can communicate more and better information to someone who is searching for a solution. There is nearly 50% extra space for headline and description line text (having increased from a 25-35-35 characters format to 30-30-80) so this gives the chance to qualify and reinforce your business’s USP.
There is greater flexibility for advertisers to adjust and iterate their ads to optimize the searcher-search interface allowing a richer connection between marketers and their target consumers.
Finally, there will be a more consistent appearance of the ad across all devices leading to a greater consistency in user experience. This is particularly important considering that many searches take place across multiple devices which are likely to encompass both mobile and desktop use-cases.
Below is an example of an ETA where the two headlines combine to support each other and are followed by compelling calls to action in the description line.
Summary Guide to Making the Most of the new Expanded Text Ads format
Use the expanded space available especially with headlines: the expanded headline fields allow more information to be displayed – use it and benefit from the chance to connect more deeply with the searcher. Begin with your headlines as they are the largest element of the ad and so are consequently the biggest determinants to how well the ad ultimately performs.
- Write more compelling copy by using the additional space in the longer description line to write something new. More space gives a better chance of establishing a better connection with the searcher by providing more relevant information.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel by ignoring your own experience from Standard Text Ads. You’ve spent time honing and refining the Standard Text ads so iterate step by step and leave Standard Text Ads running to allow side-by-side comparisons. Use the best of your existing copy and enhance it with the additional space available.
- Utilize the URL Path options – Google will automatically put the domain from your final URL into the display URL – however there are also two 15-character path fields available. Use these to strengthen your displayed copy. The simplest way to do this is to utilize some of your best keywords. This will reassure users that the ad will provide a landing page of interest and relevance.
- Add Target Keywords to your headlines and/or description line. Ads that display exactly what a user has searched for are far more likely to increase CTR. With practice, you will be able to use dynamic keyword insertion but take care to proofread your ads for potential grammatical conflicts.
- Test, test and test again – Enhanced Text Ads provide an opportunity to reconsider and refocus your AdWords effort. Always test in a structured manner and allow time to collect sufficient data before assessing how your ETAs compare to existing ads. There’s more space available, so get creative and test your way to success!