Expanded Text Ads: A Positive Change for Clients

Google’s launch of “Expanded Text Ads” (ETAs) back in late May set the digital media and PPC world abuzz. This update, in tandem with the return of device-based bidding, marks a huge shift for both advertisers and users while also aligning with Google’s overall strategy to court the mobile consumer.  Google’s new ad format is eligible across all devices and is optimized specifically for mobile experience. ETAs are characterized by increased character counts for headlines and descriptions and by the presence of two prominent display URL paths that can be used to highlight landing page content. Despite Google’s iterative nature, its ad copy structure hasn’t actually changed since the invention of AdWords in 2000 – more than 15 years ago! – so this development represents an important milestone. 

Google’s Expanded Text Ads are fully supported in AdWords Editor. In addition, third-party platforms including Kenshoo, DoubleClick, and Marin have enhanced their integration capabilities to support the new ad format. Bing has followed suit, rolling out their own version of expanded ads, thus cementing expanded ads as a fixture in the PPC landscape.

It has been about two months since our paid search teams launched the initial waves of ETA testing. iProspect’s paid search account teams were enthusiastic early adopters of the new ad format, purported by Google to drive higher CTR and ultimately better-paid search performance. We’ve seen some particularly promising results across several verticals including B2B, retail, and travel & hospitality.

A B2B client saw significant CVR gains after implementing Google’s ETAs. As a result of this CVR improvement, the average cost per lead (CPL) across branded and non-branded keywords decreased, delivering greater overall efficiency. Branded terms saw a 4% decrease in CPL while non-branded terms saw over a 50% decrease.

A prestige beauty brand also saw exciting results after launching Expanded Ads. After initially seeing a negative impact for brand-specific keywords, the team pivoted their approach and crafted ad copy specifically tailored for the new ad format by incorporating a sitelink highlighting new arrivals. After implementing this multifaceted approach, Expanded Ads drove a 38% higher CVR compared to standard ads. To maximize performance, the team employed multiple tactics to optimize their expanded ads copy. They mirrored the language used on the website’s landing pages and also incorporated high-volume search queries for the ad’s title using the Keyword Planner tool. After implementing this new strategy, the team saw keyword Quality Scores improve from 9 to 10.

Clients in the travel and hospitality industry have also seen significant lift after implementing Expanded Ads. One global hotel client saw Google ETAs yield a 9% stronger CTR than standard ads. This same team was also able to capitalize on CPCs that were 45% cheaper than standard ads. The team employed a specific approach to yield those results, ensuring they were delivering relevant ad copy and specifically mirroring promotions that were heavily messaged across the client’s site.

As shown by the SEM success stories above, there is tremendous value in fully leveraging the new character allotments for Google ETAs. With 50% more ad copy at the advertiser’s disposal, crafting compelling and clickable ad copy has never been easier, nor has there been a better opportunity for ad personalization. In their latest timing update, Google announced that they will be phasing out standard ads of Jan 31, 2017, meaning AdWords will no longer support the creation or editing of standard text ads. Google shifted their timeline for the phase out intentionally from fall 2016 to early 2017 in order to provide advertisers with sufficient time to test different ad copy iterations and to hone their ETA strategy before holiday ramps up. If you haven’t already, now is the time to invest some time in developing your strategy, crafting creative copy, and implementing an ETA approach that will drive success for your brand.