AdWords Expanded Text Ads for Large Accounts
Google recently announced the introduction of Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), one of the biggest changes ever in AdWords in my opinion. Advertisers now have the opportunity to create better ads with more characters, including two headlines, together with a description line combined into one 80 character field. These can run alongside the old standard text ads for now to help test and improve the new ad format. The character limit for ETAs are:
Headline 1 = 30 characters
Headline 2 = 30 characters
Description = 80 characters
Directory Path 1 & 2 = 15 characters each
This is a 47.4% increase in combined headline and description ad copy character length.
Google created this new format to unify a multi device mobile first world. The precursor to this was Google removing ads on the side of search results.
My Experience of Transitioning a Large AdWords Account
One of the accounts I manage has over 10,000 ads, so not a huge account, but fairly large. So, how do you transition from standard text ads to ETAs in this scenario?
The solution I have started to use on the account involves exporting from AdWords Editor and editing in Excel. You can export ads as ETAs by following the instructions at AdWords Support.
As you can see in the screenshot below, in the Text Ads view in Editor, you will see an “Export as” button on the top middle right and you select the ads you want to export, then click on the button and select “Export as expanded text ads”.
This exports a CSV file where you can add a Headline 2 and directory Path 1 and Path 2, which replace the Display URL. For some ads I added a generic call to action for Headline 2 that worked across many ads and this was a “quick fix”. For other ads I replaced existing strings of words with other strings to result in well-written ads that are coherent and work well when incorporating the Headline 2. You can then import the edited file into AdWords Editor, creating ETAs. It isn’t a perfect solution, and took some time to get things right. One issue is that the messaging was slightly different with the new ads where I edited the strings. Also, many different local area ad groups adds to the complexity. I only tried this on a small number of campaigns as a test and will roll out more in the future.
Worth noting is that with longer ad copy, and with a shift in emphasis of messaging, you will need to review your Ad Extensions to ensure that the entire ad and extensions work holistically, for example eliminating duplication.
Early Results from Expanded Text Ads Versus Standard Text Ads
Does the new ETA format outperform a standard ad? Not enough conversion data has accumulated yet, so I focused on changes in click through rates (CTR) when testing performance. My early tests and results are positive and generally there is an increase in CTR on the new ads compared to the old, although this is not always the case in each ad group. With more ad text available it makes sense that CTR would increase, especially with an early advantage over other advertisers in the market yet to make the transition. Overall in the account, CTR increased by 8% for a limited test period, although there are marketing industry reports that indicate higher CTR increases. I also expect Quality Score to receive a boost.
As an AdWords Consultant, I’m keen to observe future results and how ETAs impact the conversion rates in my accounts. I will report future findings when I have gathered more data and will create a more detailed post.