Optimizing Expanded Text Ads

Now that all AdWords users are obliged to use the new AdWords Expanded Text Ads format for their PPC campaigns, it’s time to start focusing on optimizing your expanded text ad campaigns to get the most out of your updated ads. Many advertisers are already seeing positive results from their expanded text ads, and updating your campaigns to optimize for the new ad format can yield great ROI for your digital advertising strategy moving forward.

Here are our tips for kickstarting your expanded text ads and making your move to using AdWords’ longer ad format as smooth and beneficial to your campaigns as possible.

Transition into Optimization — Don’t Leap

Whether you started testing out expanded text ads as soon as they were available, or if you’ve waited until now to start updating your campaigns, keep in mind that you’ll want to keep your existing campaigns running as you make the transition to the new ad format.

Make changes incrementally and experiment with your existing campaigns slowly, rather than starting entirely from scratch. If the prospect of slowly changing and experimenting with your campaigns seems too daunting, you may want to enlist the help of expert PPC managers to make the process move more quickly and efficiently.

Leverage Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) can help boost CTR by catching your audience’s eye with more personalized, relevant ad copy. With a higher character limit to leverage in the expanded text format, advertisers can take even better advantage of this useful AdWords tool moving forward.

One ad performance study found that by using Dynamic Keyword Insertion in the heading of the new expanded text ads, advertisers were able to boost their click through rate by up to 55%. DKI didn’t have the same impact when used in the description section, however. In order to get the most value from DKI, leverage it as a part of your header to create ads that “click” with your audience at first glance.

Use the New Length to Your Advantage

PPC experts have stated that while your headline length doesn’t seem to have a significant impact on ad performance, the description does.  Expanded text ads perform best when advertisers utilize the description section at its full length. Take advantage of this newfound space to convey a more compelling message to your audience.

Longer ad copy allowances can make it easier for advertisers to use keywords effectively. Make sure that you get your keywords in your header to catch your audience’s eye and use the description section to provide more information and a compelling CTA.

Rewrite Ad Copy for Quality

If you’ve been running PPC campaigns for any amount of time, you probably have a few campaigns that have been performing better for you than others. It may be tempting to simply tack an additional few keywords to the end of your existing ads. But optimizing your new expanded text ads requires more than simply making your ad copy a bit longer.

In their recent guide to expanded text ad optimization, Google’s advice to advertisers was, “Don’t simply add a second headline to your existing ads. Rethink your entire ad creative.” Well-crafted ads should be a holistic effort. To create stronger, more cohesive ads in the expanded text ad format, reconsider what makes your most successful ads work well, and build new copy from the ground up to replicate (and hopefully surpass) their success.

Craft Device-Agnostic Ads

In addition to expanded text ads, Google has also recently introduced separate device bidding functionality, making it easier for advertisers to pinpoint device-specific audiences. However, the AdWords team has made it clear that the new expanded text ad format is responsive, eliminating the need for advertisers to create device-specific ad copy. Google has gone so far as to advise against creating device-specific campaigns for the new format.

While time and A/B testing will tell whether or not Google’s advice holds true, advertisers can rest assured that their ads will display correctly across various devices. As a result, you’ll benefit from writing your ads with the intention and awareness that they will be served up to an audience that spans multiple devices.

Rethink Ad Extensions

Here at Webrageous, we’re big advocates of using ad extensions to craft more impactful mobile ads. Ad extensions let you add more information into your ads than you would be able to fit otherwise, such as a phone number to call, or reviews of your business. But with more space for copy, the ad extensions you’re currently using might be redundant. Rethink your current choice of extensions and check out the complete list to AdWords extensions to see how you might be able to use them even more efficiently with expanded ads. With mobile-friendly extensions like Click to SMS and Location extensions, advertisers have more ways than ever to pack a a ton of value into their newly optimized PPC ads. 

Optimize Your Expanded Text Ads Campaign Strategy with Webrageous

True campaign optimization requires more than ad-level changes. To truly get the most out of your new expanded ad campaigns, you may need to give your entire ad strategy a makeover. If you are committed to optimizing your ad campaigns in 2017, the expert PPC management team at Webrageous can help. We’re currently working with many of our customers to update, improve, and optimize their AdWords campaigns, and we can do the same for you. Contact Webrageous today to start developing a more impactful PPC strategy.

Image Source: Pixabay

Using Expanded Text Ads Effectively


Earlier this year, AdWords introduced expanded text ads. With more space for ad text and some changes to ad format, the introduction of expanded text ads represents a significant change to the way advertisers will write ad copy. Google has announced that by January 2017, advertisers will be obligated to use the new format.

While many advertisers are already seeing promising results, you may find that making the transition to the new format will require a period of testing and experimentation. Today, we’ll go over what’s changing with AdWords expanded text ads, and explore some of the ways that advertisers can prepare for the shift and start getting the most value out of the new ad format.

Expanded Text Ads: What’s Changing

AdWords is introducing several key changes to ad formats with expanded text ads. The goal of the reformat was to make ads more mobile-optimized. Since over half of ad traffic now comes from mobile devices, it makes sense that AdWords is focusing on delivering a higher quality experience for their users across all devices.

    1. Expanded text ads mobile-focused. These new ads are larger than previous ad formats, and are designed to automatically display correctly on screens of all sizes.
    2. They have two headline lines instead of one, with a total of 30 characters between the two lines. This gives advertisers a slightly higher character count to work with when writing ad copy.
    3. The description lines of the ads now consist of one large field. Again, advertisers get a slight bump in total character count, with the new description section allowing up to 80 characters, instead of 35 per line (70 total).
    4. Display URLs now default to final domain URLs. Advertisers now have the option to add up to two additional (and optional) “Path” fields. These fields are intended to provide users with more information about where they’ll be taken when they click on an ad link. Advertisers will no longer manually add a display URL when writing ads.

How Expanded Text Ads Will Impact Your Campaigns

Overall, the net takeaway from the introduction expanded text ads is that advertisers now have more space to write ads. The additions to both headline and description character limits give advertisers more room to write clearer, more impactful ads. By providing viewers with more information in their ads, advertisers may be able to garner more clicks and higher conversion rates for their campaigns.

The focus of the move towards expanded text ads is to optimize mobile viewers’ ad experience. The expanded text format Advertisers may see a boost in conversions on mobile devices after the changeover, as their ads should function more effectively for mobile viewers. As we’ve seen with mobile ad extensions, adding more information to your mobile ads can help increase viewer engagement with your ads significantly.

However, many advertisers have crafted their ads to work specifically within the parameters of the existing ad formats, down to the very last character. While you may ultimately benefit from the change, your campaigns may suffer initially if they aren’t optimized for the format changes. To make the transition successfully and smoothly, you’ll have to take some steps to prepare your campaigns for expanded text ads. 

What You Can Do to Prepare Your Campaigns

Test (and Retest) Your Ad Copy

You’ve likely already done a good amount of testing to find the perfect words for your existing PPC ads. Now it’s time to start experimenting again! A/B testing revised ads that take full advantage of the new format will give you a good sense of how you’ll need to update different campaigns. AdWords itself has strongly recommended that advertisers start testing out the new format ahead of the switch; we also recommend starting your testing as soon as possible, so you can get ahead of the mandatory change.

Start Running Expanded Text Ads Alongside Current Ads

Another of the recommendations straight from the AdWords blog is to start rolling out expanded text ads as soon as possible — but to do so incrementally. If you switch all of your ads to the new format right now, you’re sure to find the updating process overwhelming, and your campaign performance will suffer. To ensure a smoother transition, start moving campaigns to the new format slowly. As you try out expanded text ads, keep some of your other campaigns running in the older format as long as possible. You can also use your existing ads to build stronger expanded ads. For instance, you may want to combine two of your top performing headlines into a single, longer one to get the impact of both.

Focus on Your Quality Score

Because the new format takes up a large amount of space on smartphones and other small screens, getting in the top positions on mobile ads can significantly impact the success of your ads. Start making an effort now to increase your Quality Score to ensure that your newly redesigned ads get the visibility that you need for AdWords success.

Getting the Most Out of Expanded Text Ads

When leveraged strategically, expanded text ads have the potential to make a hugely positive impact on your AdWords campaigns. And if you’re not already tapped into the lucrative mobile PPC space, now is a perfect time to start seeing great results from the mobile audience.

Webrageous’ team of PPC managers is highly experienced in navigating the changes to AdWords’ platform. We’ve helped many of our customers optimize campaigns for mobile campaigns, and now we’re primed to transform campaigns to make the most of the expanded text ads changes. Contact us today to learn how we can leverage our experience to prepare your PPC campaigns to find success with expanded text ads.

Image Source: Pixabay

AdWords new expanded ads performance

With new expanded ads being live in AdWords accounts since 26th July, I decided now is a good time two months after to start analyzing results and see how they perform.

Several people have tried to analyze the performance of expanded ads at an early stage (only a few weeks after the new format was released), struggling to find clear tendencies and common ground. I thought maybe this lack of uniformity was due to early analysis and not enough reliable statistics.

So I decided to give it a go myself and have a look at the data for the last 2 months from various accounts covering different industries, hoping to be able to find some common ground. And I have to admit that was no easy task.

As advised I created new expanded ads in all those accounts as early as possible, letting them run along old ads to see how they perform in comparison.

Expanded ads first common impression

The first feeling I had generally speaking before starting my in-depth analysis was that new expanded ads were performing quite well with a higher CTR. I even ended up pausing old ads on a particular account as the old ads were bringing the CTR down: 0.20% CTR on old ads compared to 1.33% on new expanded ads!

But when I started digging out deeper, although I had the feeling that on some accounts the new expanded ads were shown slightly more than old ads, I realized that for a particular account (the one I mentioned above, which is the account of a company selling collectible legos figures) it was the opposite way around: 43756 impressions and 581 clicks on expanded ads and 87346 impressions (with impressions particularly increased on old ads for exact and phrase ad groups compared to broad) with only 179 clicks on old ads!

See impressions screenshots for one ad group in this account between new ETA and old ads:

expanded ads performance

old ads pefrormance

When I analyzed that account even further I also realized that the position on new expanded ads was lower than on old ads, with a similar CPC. So in the end in that account expanded ads were working better bringing more clicks with lower impressions and lower position. I have to say this account was quite a particular case as I haven’t noticed so much difference in impressions (from single to double!) between expanded ads and old ads in any other account.

When I encountered the first discrepancies between accounts, I decided to look at comparable statistics, splitting by brand/non brand, ad groups, and even match type (I usually create one ad group for each match type).

No common ground for branding

I analyzed the first branding campaign on a waste management company account and noticed that for brand terms, old ads seemed to perform slightly better (25% CTR on old ads compared to 23.03% on new ETA) – except for broad ad group where old ads were not shown at all. The positions were the same for old ads and new ETA and when I looked at the average CPC it seemed to be lower for new ETA in exact ad group, but then for the phrase ad group the tendency was the other way around.

So I had a look at another branding campaign for a company selling this time irrigation products. And I realized that the tendency I had noticed in the previous account for branding was the exact way around in this new account and that the CTR seemed to be higher on new expanded ads (with a higher position) than on old ones (18.21% CTR on new ETA compared to 11.88% on old ads). So I decided to go deeper and analyze this branding campaign by match type and although it was true that CTR was higher on new expanded ads in broad and phrase, the CTR was higher on old ads for exact ad group.

See performance screenshots for one broad ad group in this account between new ETA and old ads:

expanded ads performance

old ads performance

The only tendency that seems to appear in branding campaigns is the following:

Exact ad groups branding: old ads seem to perform better

Broad ad groups branding: new ETA seem to perform better

Phrase ad groups branding: performance seems to vary

No clear tendency for non-branding

I then decided to have a closer look at non-branding campaigns and see if I could find a tendency there.

When it came to non-branding it seemed expanded ads had generally speaking more impressions than old ones, with a higher CTR. But then again there was this particular account (collectible legos figures) were impressions were doubled on old ads, especially on exact and phrase ad groups (not so noticeable on broad ad group).

When I analyzed non-branding campaigns for the waste management company, the tendency was true: higher CTR on ETA, except for BMM ad groups. But then I analyzed non-branding campaigns for that company selling irrigation products: higher CTR on ETA for broad and phrase, but lower for exact.

I decided to have a look at non-branding campaigns for an adventure travel company: impressions were always higher on new ads, with a CTR here clearly always better (on broad, phrase and exact ad groups) on new expanded ads (up to 6% higher!).

See performance screenshots in this account between new ETA and old ads:

expanded ads performance

old ads performance

To sum up

After analyzing this 2 month data, I have to accept a fact: it is really hard to find a common ground in expanded text ads performance. Some branding campaigns might have a lower CTR on new ads, some others won’t. While it is true that ETA will perform at a lower CPC than old ads on some ad groups, it might be the other way around for other ad groups. New ETA might have a higher CTR on exact for some products, and a lower one on broad. Position might sometimes be better on new expanded ads…or not.

There is no clear tendency and it is all relative to each single account.

Maybe it is still early to try and analyze new expanded ads, and more than likely their performance will change again as more and more advertisers start using them and certainly when Google will get rid of old ads forever.

What I do recommend is that you perform your own analysis, but don’t forget to segment by branding/non branding, match types, ad groups etc as new ETA might perform very differently for each segment. And if you notice as I did that for some accounts new ETA already perform way better than old ones, don’t wait to pause old ads and do that now. The most important thing right now is to monitor performance and if you see a sudden decrease in performance after implementing ETA go deeper in your account and try and find out what is working or not. As always in PPC it is all about testing, testing and testing again.

Some good news to end

The good news is that Google might have heard the complaint of several account managers that were probably struggling to create a high amount of new expanded text ads, as they extended the transition period during which you can still create and edit old format ads. The initial deadline of 26th October has now been extended to 31st January 2017, so that advertisers have 3 more months to create expanded text ads and test them along old ones.


Images’ source: Google AdWords Editor