An Intro to Expanded Text Ads: The New Kid in Town

Google has officially launched the new mobile-focused text ads, Expanded Text Ads (ETAs)! Announced at Google Summit 2016, this mobile-focused revamp of the standard text format got us excited for the possibilities of nearly double the ad space on AdWords. But with so many new things to try, what are the ETA best practices and insider tips to creating successful campaigns? And what are Expanded Text Ads anyways?

Expanded Text Ads are Here!

Even though they were scheduled to begin later this year, Google surprised us all by launching theETAs to all AdWords advertisers early on July 27, 2016. And we, at Blue Compass, got to work playing with the new ad format!

Initially, we were hesitant to jump into writing about this format until we got some serious optimization time in, and we are happy we did. So much can change day-to-day or week-to-week, so logging multiple major optimization sessions with the new format really got us prepared to talk about what works, and what doesn’t.

What Are Expanded Text Ads in AdWords?

As mentioned earlier, ETAs were announced at the Google AdWords Summit in 2016 and thought to be in testing until later this year. They now serve as a new ad format that looks to bridge the gap between desktop and mobile advertising spaces.

This new format is mobile-first and truly mobile-friendly. But what does this mean? Expanded Text Ads are a concentrated effort by Google to make mobile and desktop advertising spaces one, wholistic effort. Google recognized that many internet users venture between three and four devices on a daily basis and have offered a solution that will allow advertisers to tailor one message, without having to worry about formatting.

Extended Text Ads

Changing Your Mindset from 25-35-35 to 30-30-80 Characters

Until now we’ve been creating ads on Google and Bing with 25-35-35 characters in mind. With those 95 characters, we did so much to boost website traffic and drive conversions. That mantra kept us in line and helped reach our goals. So what does the world of 30-30-80 characters hold for us?

For one it holds 45 additional characters. While it may not seem like a lot, so much has already been said in less than 45 characters, such as:

Giving us nearly twice as many characters means we can include so much more in our headlines and descriptions. Changing your mindset will not be easy, but rethinking how you communicate with a 48 percent increase in character count will make the biggest impact on your ad account. What else can you do to maximize the performance of this new ad format?

6 Quick Tips for the New Expanded Text Ads

We want to make sure you can hit the ground running with this new format, so we’ve pulled together some of the best observations from our AdWords-Certified team!

1. Write New Ad Text That Works on all Platforms.

Expanded Text Ads were built from the ground up, to be a mobile-friendly ad format. While it’s still possible to differentiate your mobile and desktop audiences, ETAs allow you to create ad text and messaging that permeates through these mobile and desktop barriers.

Pro Tip: Leverage old ad extensions if you’re struggling with new ad text. Those value-adding nuggets of goodness are ripe for your ad text.Gone are the days of having identical ads targeting both mobile and desktop. Instead, Google encourages us to create powerful messaging that reaches users no matter what device, or the number of devices, they may use to browse.

2. Spend a Little Extra Time on the First and Second Headlines (but Make Them Different).

Your headlines are now the most important part of the text ad. Hands down, no arguments. The massive 60-character headline will be big, bold and prominent on the search results page so you need to make those 60 characters work for you and entice your audience to click.

Extended Texts Ads in Search


We’re not saying no one reads the descriptions. Far from it, actually. You should work hard to optimize your description text just as you would your headline text. But having the ability to appear almost as a search result with 60 characters of text is incredibly powerful.

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re differentiating your headlines. With our time online since the release of ETAs we’ve noticed that some advertisers aren’t creating Unique, value-adding text for each of the two headlines. Make them pop, but make them different!

3. Always Include your High Priority Keywords in the New “Path Fields.”

Along with the additional characters in your ad text, you now have two, 15-character path fields that allow you to customize your vanity URLs. In the past, you were limited to one 25-character box where you could provide one large vanity URL. Now you can provide highly customized vanity URLs with these two new fields.

You should be used to working your primary keywords into your vanity URL. Now, with the addition of another vanity URL field, you can provide even more high-impact keywords for your users to recognize and want to click on.

4. Update your Ad Extensions ASAP.

Ad extensions have always been that extra little piece of real estate that shows up if you’re ranking well. You know they’re supposed to call attention to any details you couldn’t fit into your ad text. Things like “Free Shipping” were great ways to add even more value to your ad text.

Now that you have more ad text, there’s a chance you’ve made some of your ad extensions obsolete. Devote time to writing new and attention-grabbing extensions that complement the new ETA format.

5. Don’t Pause Old Ads Just Yet.

Old ads are like that movie you put on when you’re sick (Hot Fuzz for me) or that TV show you’ve binged 1,000 times (How I Met Your Mother is my favorite). They’re good, solid ads that served you well and brought you a ton of clicks and conversions, so why should you get rid of them? In short, you shouldn’t!

While developing new ad copy is great, old ads will continue to run and be successful. Don’t worry if you want to leave them running for a while as you get a grip on the new ETA format and the subtle nuances of 30-30-80 characters.

6. Don’t be Afraid to Test!

This one is a no-brainer, but something you shouldn’t forget when a new ad format comes out. Testing is what makes us good search engine marketers. It allows us to be confident in what we’re producing because we know what works. Extended Text Ads will take a long time to test properly, but you can do it, we know you can!

Parting Words of Wisdom on Expanded Text Ads (ETAs)

Expanded Text Ads are one of the biggest changes to AdWords in a long time. And until the new dashboard comes out, we’ll  have plenty of time to test. If we have one thing to say to someone just starting to experiment with ETAs it would be this:

Don’t be afraid to fail.

Even in failure AdWords gives you the chance to learn why something didn’t work, and what you can do to make it work next time. Test. Fail. Learn. Succeed.

Want to Take your AdWords Game to the Next Level?

Blue Compass’ team of AdWords- and Bing-Certified professionals will put their expertise to work for you and your company. We’re here to help!

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Blue Compass is a leading team of digital experts helping brands succeed online through web design, development and digital marketing.