Introducing Google’s new Expanded Text Ads

It’s the biggest change to come to Google AdWords for as long as we can remember. In May Google announced that the format for text ads would be changing this year – and changing quite dramatically, from the old format of 25-35-35 (25 characters for the headline and 35 characters for each of the two subsequent lines of text) to a new format of 30-30-80. This gives us two headline fields of 30 characters each and a single description line of 80 characters. The new format is called Expanded Text Ads and has now been rolled out. The two headline fields will be merged together with a dash between them on a typical desktop computer screen, but this combined headline will often wrap on mobile devices. There are also changes to the Display URL – the web address that’s displayed on your ad. AdWords will now automatically take the domain from your final URL (the address that the ad leads to when clicked on) and show it as your ad’s display URL. There are also two optional “Path” fields, which can hold up to 15 characters, that you can add to the end of your URL. In a nutshell? The ads are MUCH longer and give us a lot more to play with in terms of testing different ad copy. And Google do their homework before launching new features – if the new format didn’t work well for advertisers (and for Google), they wouldn’t be rolling it out. Early reports suggest that these ads have a significantly higher click through rate than the old style – some reports suggest as much as 20% higher. In the short term, however, it does leave us as an AdWords agency with a bit of a headache as we have to find the time to work through all our clients’ ads and rewrite them all, coming up with new messaging to fill the much larger space. It’s a good job August tends to be a quieter month when lots of our clients go on holiday!

What happens if I leave my ads as they are?

Don’t worry – the world won’t end and your existing ads will continue to be displayed, at least for the time being. (Google still wants your money, after all!) But from October 26th, 2016, you will no longer be able to add any new ‘old style’ ads, or edit any existing ones. They will still continue to display the ads beyond this date, but it’s not clear at this stage for how long. Whatever the timescale, we would recommend that you start planning for the new format as soon as you can. We’re not seeing many of the new ads at the moment so we see it as an opportunity for our clients to steal a march on the competition by getting their new ads set up before their less agile competitors catch on.

If you’re a Google AdWords management client of ours…

…you don’t need to do anything – we’ll already be preparing a set of new ads for you as a matter of course, as part of the normal monthly management we carry out for you. We’ll be sending you a new set of ads just as soon as we have them ready to present to you, which for most people will be during August. When we send you our first draft of the new ads you’ll have the opportunity to suggest changes to the wording at that point – nobody knows your business like you do, and we’re sure lots of clients will have some great ideas to add to what we’re already putting together. There are a few clients whose monthly retainer doesn’t cover enough hours to be able to complete this task in August, or who have a particularly large number of ads that need rewriting, in which case we’ll be carrying on with the task into September. If you’re an Integrated Digital Marketing client whose campaign includes an AdWords element, we’ll probably spend less time this month than we normally would on the other aspects of your campaign (SEO / Social / Email etc), in order to get this project done. Of course, setting up one set of new ads that work with the new format isn’t the end of this process, it’s just the beginning – we’ll be looking to split test different variants of your ads over time, and learn what works best for your business. But the sooner we get started, the sooner we start developing best practice for you.

If you’re not a Google AdWords management client of ours…

Well, you know what you can do about that! Our number’s 01952 462845…

I’ve got questions about the new ad format! Where can I get help?

Use the Comments box below to ask us a question and we’ll follow up with an answer (even if you’re not a current client – we’re nice like that).

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