Just as the numbers 4-4-2 will be immediately familiar to any soccer fan, 25-35-35 is a combination few people who’ve ever worked in PPC could easily forget.
A 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines have been the building blocks of AdWords text ads since day one. We’ve all slaved away trying to fit compelling copy into these strict limits, desperately tried to knock one character off the first description line to add a full stop at the end, scoured the thesaurus for a shorter synonym… the struggle has been real.
So it was with near-delirious excitement that we at Merkle|Periscopix met Google’s announcement in May that, after testing Expanded Text Ads in a closed beta, they would be rolling them out to all advertisers over the course of this year.
Previously, we’ve been able to give ad headlines a boost in size, but only at the expense of the description lines. If your first description line ended in a full stop, exclamation or question mark, the ad could be eligible for first line promotion. Your description line was bumped up to the headline ad, and your share of the search results page increased:
But what Google has now given us is 47 percent more characters to play with. Instead of a 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines, we’ve got two headlines (two!) of 30 characters each, plus an 80-character description line. That bigger headline doesn’t come at the expense of your description lines: everything has been super-sized.
As well as increasing the character limits, display URLs have also changed with Expanded Text Ads. Rather than manually entering any URL you like (as long as it matched the domain of the final URL), it’s now automatically extracted from your final URL, and you can customize the rest of it with up to two paths (e.g., /Clothing/Dresses).
Google has been stingy with character limits for years — why the sudden generosity?
It all appears to be part of Google’s shift in focus towards mobile. Mobile is growing, and the AdWords that was built 15 years ago — when all you could do on a phone was talk to someone (imagine) — simply doesn’t cut it anymore.
Step one towards creating a more unified, streamlined experience across devices was the removal of right-hand side ads from desktop in February of this year. This left room for extra text and paved the way for ads which look more uniform across desktop, mobile and tablet.
The ever-evolving power of mobile devices means the lines between them and their desktop/tablet counterparts will continue to blur. Google is acknowledging this with a change that, luckily for us, means significantly more copy with which to get our message across.
At Merkle|Periscopix, we’ve been implementing Expanded Text Ads in our accounts as soon as they’re available and keeping a very close eye on performance. We looked not only at how well these ads were performing compared to standard ads, but also at how often they were appearing.
It’s still a little too early to draw many definitive conclusions, but some early observations include:
Expanded Text Ads are worth testing in any AdWords account. I can think of few instances where the ability to add more content to your ad could be a negative. And remembering a few handy tips should mean you’re able to make the most of them:
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