Billed by Google as the ‘biggest change in 15 years’, expanded text ads were finally rolled out today.
The big news is that ad text is being (almost) doubled, leaving advertisers more room than ever before to create genuinely creative and informative ad copy.
If you’re as excited about the changes as we are then read on to find about more about what expanded ads are, why Google is launching them, and what it all means for advertisers and users alike.
What are Expanded Text Ads?
The essence of the expanded text ads update is the increased character limit available to advertisers. In short, we now have more description text to play with, and much more headline text.
Before the update, advertisers were limited to a 25 character headline description, and two 35 character description fields. Now, we have two headline fields, each with 30 characters, a 140% increase! The description is now limited to one field, but this is expanded to 80 characters, a 14% increase on the combined total of the two previous 35+35 description fields.
URLs are also changing, in a more muted, but still significant way. Now, instead of manually entering a display URL for your ad, the URL is instead extracted from the landing page and path fields, that indicate to a user where they will be directed when they click on a link.
Why is Google Introducing Expanded Text Ads?
The expanded text ad update can be seen as a logical extension of Google’s earlier decision to kill off its side ads. These were ads which used to appear on the right hand side of desktop search engine results, until they were dramatically ditched earlier this year. This was part of an ongoing process by Google to accommodate itself to what it calls the ‘mobile first world’.
In the ‘mobile first world’ desktop finds itself distinctly in second place, leaving the services previously optimised for the platform such as AdWords ripe for rethinking. The expanded text ads are the most radical manifestation of this process, but they are not the first innovation in the desktop to mobile transition, and are unlikely to be the last.
Good News or Bad?
For advertisers and users alike, the new update appears to be good news all round. Advertisers finally get more room to be creative, with the increased character limit for headlines and descriptions allowing for more descriptive and potentially informative copy. As a consequence of this, end users will also benefit, as they are provided with more information before they make that crucial click.
In terms of ad performance, Google has made some very bold claims, with a 20% increase in CTR projected. This is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility, as AdWords professionals know from experience that more information, such as ad and call extensions, invariably leads to higher performing ads.
Ultimately, however, the increase in character limit provides no cast iron guarantee of increased ad performance, as always, it’s what you do with those characters that really counts.