What we’ve learnt about Expanded Text Ads since their launch

Blog | 17 Aug, 2016

When Google decided to remove the right side ads (remember those days?), we all wondered about Google’s next steps. Enter Expanded Text Ads.

The new ad format has given us the ability to create more informative and detailed copy, which allows the advertisers to provide more details about the product/service to the consumer.  

Display URLs have changed with the Expanded Text Ads. Instead of manually entering any URL (the URL must match the domain of the final URL, of course) the URL is automatically extracted from the final URL, and the remainder of the URL can be customised. The biggest takeaway is that advertisers now have 140 characters for ad copy, which is a 55-character limit improvement from the standard format.

Across both devices, one can see the amount of space the expanded ads occupy, which makes position 1 much more appealing.

Experiencing higher Click Through Rates


Many advertisers have seen an uplift in CTR since adding Expanded Text Ads to their accounts, which is not surprising due to the increased visibility of their ads. This is consistent with what we have experienced so far at Jellyfish.

The table outlines the performance of expanded ads vs standards ads with ad groups that have both ad types active. These are specific to one vertical. 

Expanded ads have a 14% higher CTR than that of standards ads. That huge uplift is normally a win, but the CVR for expanded ads is 17% lower than that of the standard ads. We are unsure of the cause of the noticeable CVR change, but our Google team has stated that the CVR drop off is something consistent amongst all users in the vertical.

Unexpected difficulties with Expanded Text Ads


Despite the increased visibility and increased ad text, we have experienced some initial difficulties with expanded text ads. There have been many instances of expanded ads being truncated when actually served on the SERP. This creates issues for many advertisers who have strict guidelines and regulations, such as advertisers in the pharmaceutical field. Google recommends using 33 TOTAL characters across both headlines to avoid truncation. That is 45% characters less than what is allowed, which could defeat the purpose of using expanded text ads in the eyes of some advertisers.

Upon a recent update, it has been discovered that the issue lies within the pixel size of the actual character, and not the character limit itself. According to Google’s Cassie Hartt, “Advertisers who must adhere to strict legal or regulatory ad requirements should consider creating headlines with 33 characters or less to ensure all of their ad text shows – event on the smallest devices. These advertisers should also take into consideration the size (and language) of these characters. For example, an ‘M’ takes up more space than an ‘I’.”

Advertisers have experienced a truncation issue on mobile devices as well, but the description line has been shortened. Google says this is due to the call extension being enabled and this creates a huge problem for advertisers who rely on phone calls to generate revenue. For these advertisers, it may be best to place a CTA in the second headline, as you will always want to provide an action for anyone reading your ad.

 

Call to Actions are no longer device specific


Also, advertisers can no longer specify a device for each ad. The only option is to designate a separate mobile landing page URL. This is a significant change for advertisers who used distinct messaging and different CTAs across mobile devices. At Jellyfish, many of our strategies and approaches to everyday account management have been focused on a strong mobile presence, which is due to the increasing traffic we see from cellular devices. The mobile landscape will only continue to grow, and not being able to determine the devices limits our ability to create the best user journey possible.

 

Moving forward


On October 26th, 2016, standard text ads can no longer be uploaded in AdWords and the expanded format will become the norm. We will also lose the ability to edit those ads as well.  By then, we expect a resolution to truncate issues and more stability on conversion rates. To help prepare for the expansion of the expanded ads, advertisers should ensure the quality scores of their most valuable keywords are as high as can be. Quality score is an important metric when determining Ad Rank, and advertisers who occupy the top spots with taking up the most valuable real estate on the SERP. Ranking below position one on mobile could very well cause your ad to appear below the fold on mobile devices, which will essentially make your ad irrelevant.

Please stay tuned for any further updates on Expanded Text Ads and feel free to comment with your current experiences!

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