Knowledge Base – Expanded Text Ads

Dec 16th, 2016

Pay per click (PPC) is essential for any business serious about their online visibility. It is a proven model for increasing traffic and therefore conversions – which is why you should be utilising it as part of your paid search strategy. With that in mind it is vital that you understand the ad process and the changes that Google has made to their text ads – namely the inception of their expanded text ads.

What are Expanded Text Ads?

Expanded text ads are deemed as the next generation of text ads. With so much focus on the way search marketing has transferred from desktop to mobile, Google decided that it had to change in order to reflect this whilst keeping both parties – the users and the advertisers in mind.

Expanded text ads give advertisers additional control over their messaging, and provide users with more information before they click on an ad. Like text ads, expanded text ads are available on both the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network (GDN), and are supported by all the AdWords tools that currently support text ads.

The new ads are dynamic and are optimised for both desktop and the ever evolving mobile world. New ads will automatically adjust between device sizes highlighting their versatility.

By the end of January 2017  it will no longer be possible to create standard text ads, and although Google has said that existing ones will continue to function, they will eventually succumb to the expanded text ads which will then become the norm.

Why the update?

Google, being such a proactive company, is always looking to make updates. The reality is that as this is where they make their money, it is in their interest to ensure that search is constantly adapting, refining, growing and converting.

Google knew that they had to adapt, especially in a mobile-first environment and as such has called this the largest change to text ads since they launched AdWords. As we have previously reported, over half of all searches are now conducted on a mobile figure and it would be fair to say this percentage is only going to increase.

Major differences

Since the formation of AdWords, those working in PPC have stuck to the trusty 25-25-35 combination of ad writing. The numbers in the sequence relate to a 25-character headline and the two 35-character description lines that standard text ads were formatted in. The new upgrade now means the developers and writers have two 30 word headlines and an 80 word description line as displayed in the image below.

As well as this increase in the character limits the new expanded text ads have brought with them a change to the display URLs. The URLs are now extracted automatically instead of the old style manual entry.

Display changes

As mentioned in the previous section with expanded text ads, you no longer need to enter a Display URL that matches your Final URL domain. Instead, AdWords will take the domain from your Final URL and show it as your ad’s Display URL.

Expanded text ads also introduces two optional “Path” fields, which can hold up to 15 characters. The “Path” fields are part of the Display URL in expanded text ads, which is typically displayed in green text below the headline and above the description. The fields give potential customers an idea of where they will end up on your site once they have clicked your ad, so the text you put in the fields should describe the product or service described in the ad in more detail.

They are part of your Display URL, and are placed after your website’s domain. So if your final URL is you might want your path text to be Tennis and Shoes so your ad’s display URL is

The text that you put in the path fields doesn’t necessarily have to be part of your website’s URL, but it should be related to the content on your landing page

Below is an example of how the new expanded text ads will look like in the AdWords interface.

CTR improvement

More text in the new format of ads should mean that there is a greater level of visibility for your ad.  It also leads to the theory that the information you can now add will allow for a more targeted approach and a better user experience.

According to early results on click-through rates of expanded text ads relative to standard text ads showed a significant uplift.

When Google first announced that expanded text ads (ETAs) were coming, the company touted as much as a 20-percent lift in click-through rates on expanded text ads and although this may not have been realised across the board there has been growth.

Making the most of expanded text ads

According to Google expanded text ads provide more opportunity for you to connect with users and drive more, qualified clicks to your website. Therefore there are a number of things which they recommend to make sure you are getting the most out expanded text ads. These are the highlights.

  • Rethink the messaging of your ad. It can be tempting, but don’t simply add a second headline to your existing ads. Consider the entire message that you want to present, taking into account all parts of your new ad.
  • Take advantage of your character limits. Expanded headline fields increase the clickable space of your ads, and allow you to communicate more with someone who’s searching before they decide whether to click through to your website.
  • Focus on optimising your headlines. People are most likely to read the headline of your ad. When viewed on the search results page, your ad’s headline fields are combined using a hyphen, “-”. On mobile, the headline may wrap beyond the first line. Consider the different ways in which your headline may display when writing your ad to make sure that your ad is compelling and easy to read on different devices.
  • Use ad extensions. Including information below your ad, such as additional deep links into your website or your business location, has been shown to increase your ad’s performance.

Click Consult is proud of its strategic approach to search and believes that pushing the boundaries of best practice forward is an important part of what makes it an award winning search marketing agency. To find out what Click Consult can do for your brand, contact us today; or for actionable industry insights, check our blog or resource pages.

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