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Google Expanded Text Ads: Change Is Coming to AdWords … Again

Google never stops innovating with AdWords, and the last year has seen some big changes to the platform. When side ads were scrapped back in February, marking the biggest change to the platform since its inception, you would be forgiven for thinking this would be the only major change Google had in the works. But Google is at it again. It turns out this was just the start, and we can expect more sweeping changes to come into effect later in the year.

The biggest change of all, which was announced at the Google Performance Summit back in May (and reported here in the Google blog), is coming to the text limits of the ads, which are set to be increased dramatically. Here’s what you need to know about these Expanded Text Ads, as well as the other changes coming to AdWords—and what you need to do to get ready for them.

Expanded Text Ads Are Arriving

Expanded Text Ads were the major announcement made by Google, and these will represent the biggest change to the ads since AdWords’ launch. As you will already know, Google has always stuck to strict character limits (25 for the headline, 35 for the two description lines). But these are about to go up to almost twice the amount following the shake-up.

The new ads will have a 140 character limit, which will comprise of:

  • two headlines of 30 characters
  • one description line of 80 characters

The other change is that the URL will now be automatically extracted by AdWords. This change is being inspired by mobile, just as the change to the ads’ positions earlier this year was also made because of the growth of mobile search. AdWords has been around long before mobiles became popular, and Google claimed that it wanted to redesign the ads for a mobile-first world. Essentially, if mobiles had been around back when AdWords was launched, these ads are how Google would have designed them. The ads will start showing on mobile and desktop devices later this year—so what does it all mean for marketers?

Is This Good News for Advertisers?

In a word, yes. The increased text limits mean greater visibility for adverts on the SERPs, and this means they will take up yet more prime real estate. As a result of the increased visibility, marketers would be right to expect an increase in CTR. Of course, this is just speculation right now, but Google’s testing has apparently shown CTR increases of up to 20%.

That would correspond to the increase in CTR that you can often enjoy by using AdWords Extensions. These increase the amount of ad on display, making it easier to attract the attention of targets, and helping to generate more clicks. We’ll have to see if this is what actually happens—and you can be sure that we’ll be testing our clients’ ads very carefully over the coming months to optimize them for clicks.

Quality Score Becomes Even More Important

Something else that you can expect from the increased size of the ads is that Quality Score is going to become even more important. Why? Essentially, as the top ads will now take up more space, it will become even more essential to get your ads to feature in the top four. This prime space will be even more important, and if you don’t get your ads into the top four, you could be far less likely to generate clicks. Quality Score is one of the most important metrics to focus on if you want to increase your chances of hitting the top spots, so you should pay even more attention to this from now on.

Time to Rewrite Your Ads

One thing you’ve probably already thought of is that if the ad text will be extended, surely that means you will have to rewrite them. And you would be right. Advertisers across the world are going to have a lot of ad writing to do over the coming months. Depending on how many ads you have, that could involve a lot of work—so I’d recommend you get going with this as soon as you can. How about creating a spreadsheet of your existing ads and spending a few minutes on updating a couple each day? That way by the time the changes are brought in, you’ll be in a good position to take advantage of them from the offset.

Other Changes to AdWords

Besides the increase to ad text, Google has also introduced a few other big changes that will also come into effect later this year. These include:

  • Bid By Device—this will allow you to optimize your bids for specific devices, so you can anchor your ads to one type of device and then set bid adjustments for the others. The idea behind this was that you can make mobile the center of your campaign with greater ease, and you can then specify different multipliers for desktops and tablets. A lot of detail on this change can be found at Marketing Land.
  • Local Search Ads—Google claims that nearly a third of mobile searches relate to location, and these new ads will roll out across Search and Maps. Following the changes, you will be able to prominently display your location if you use location extensions on your ads.
  • Responsive Ads for Display—this change affects display ads on the Google Display Network (GDN). Following the changes, these ads will now automatically resize and will alter their appearance to reflect the appearance of the native ads on the publisher websites.

Make the Changes Early

As you can see, these are some pretty big changes coming to AdWords, and they will hopefully help you to improve your results from your campaigns by taking a more mobile-focused approach. But while the changes are to be welcomed, you do need to prepare. The changes will come into effect later in the year, but rather than wait for the changes to come into effect before doing anything, start now. Go over your ads and create new versions that take full advantage of the increased text limits. It is also a great opportunity to review your overall strategy. And of course, if you’d like some help ensuring your campaign is taking full advantage of the changes, we’d be happy to help you out.

For further reading on all of these changes, check out the detailed reports in Wordstream, Search Engine Journal, and Search Engine Land.