Travel back to May 2016 with me, when Paid Search practitioners across the globe went through the tedious migration from standard text ads to Google’s Expanded Text Ads. In the end, this time-consuming transition was well worth it. Advertisers reported 50% more space for ad copy and the new, mobile-friendly ad format reportedly drove a 20% increase in CTRs across the board.
Fast forward to today, as Google is introducing two new optional fields to its text ads: Headline 3 and (our old favorite) Description 2. These features will potentially increase the shelf space for advertisers and will give searchers more information as they browse for relevant content on Google.
Advertisers can now create a third headline for their text ads. This is a great addition for those that are required to display their brand name or slogan in every ad; it also helps out those who’ve struggled with what they can omit (“What’s more important? Our website, brand name, or slogan?!”). This also allows for more experimenting with Call-to-Action combinations.
In the past, advertisers crafted the perfect description sentence only to get a pesky red warning alerting them their text was too long. Now, they can keep telling the story by leverage Google’s new ETA description line 2.
Bonus Character Count Update
Both Text Ad descriptions can now have up to 90 characters each. Previously, advertisers only had one description line (80 characters); this new update doubles the previous description space plus adds an additional 10 characters per description. So, what does this all mean? You now have a 93% increase in character count (from 140 to 270)!
When will these features go live?
Advertisers will be able to add a third headline and second description to text ads as soon as this week according to Google.
Are these mandatory?
No. ETAs were the first major change to Google Ads text ads in fifteen years; the new ‘optional’ features won’t cause another resource management crisis for you or your teams. In fact, these improvements come at a perfect time as more and more advertisers are experimenting with Google’s Responsive Search Ads. Consider ETA improvements as an intermediary step before you jump straight into RSAs.
Do Responsive Search Ads have to be added?
Advertisers no longer have to run Responsive Search Ads to take advantage of these text ad improvements. The extra headline and description are available within the Expanded Text Ad Format but can be leveraged by your RSAs, making the creation process of new ads much more streamlined.
Our first impressions of Google’s ETA Improvements:
It’s optional and easy to implement. Advertisers can use either (Headline 3 OR Description 2), both (Headline 3 AND Description 2), or none (continue to create ETA with 2 Headlines and 1 Description). These fields are not required to be populated to save your text ad. However, it is strongly recommended that both Headline 3 and Description 2 are filled out for maximum performance.
It gives you more opportunities to test. If ‘always be testing’ is your motto, (which it should be), you can add all of Google’s text ad variations (Standard text ads, Expanded Text Ads, Expanded Text Ads improvement, RSA) to the same ad group and test them against each other. Go ahead - change the ad creative settings to ‘optimize for clicks/conversions’ and start testing! On that note, Google has informed us they plan to make ETA improvements compatible with ‘Drafts & Experiments by the end of August.
You’ll get a better user experience. For Advertisers, the ability to use the extra character count to further connect with their audience is going to be key in competing with other marketing channels. Although PPC advertisers still need to use succinct writing techniques, their potential customers will now be able to learn more about them before making that split-second click decision.
Alas, there’s no guarantees though. The additional ad assets won’t always show up, which may cause some challenges for advertisers who attempt to use every line in an ad to tell a cohesive story. For example, if an advertiser decides to move the main call to action to headline 3, it might not show and that could negatively affect CTRs. We recommend that advertisers opt into the new ETA improvements, but use them for ancillary details of their message.
Our final thought– yes, please!