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How to Get the Most out of Google’s New Expanded Text Ads

We are declaring December to be the transition month for ETAs also known as expanded text ads. Google has advised all AdWords advertisers to complete at least one expanded text ad for each active adgroup. Google has issued a statement that the traditional shorter text ads will be gradually faded out, with the most updated cut-off date being sometime in January. Hopefully by now, all AdWords advertisers have at least begun experimenting with the new ad format. If not, now is the time to act, and not just because the old ads will be going away in the not-too-distant future. There are also significant advantages to using the new expanded text ads, which is why we are declaring that this is the month to transition to ETAs.

Advantages to Expanded Text Ads

  • They consume more real estate – Expanded text ads allow AdWords marketers to use up to 60 characters in the headline and 80 characters in the description. This makes them considerably larger than traditional, shorter text ads. In fact, they probably resemble organic listings in the new Google “4 Pack Listings” than they do the old fashioned AdWords text ads. Which leads to…
  • Higher click-through rates – Simply by virtue of the fact that the new expanded text ads consume so much more space and are more visually appealing to Google searchers, expanded text ads tend to generate better click through rates. Essentially, with four ads at the top of the Google search results, and the new ETAs being longer and more compelling, the expanded text ads are stealing some of the clicks from the organic listings below. The click-through rate is also higher because…
  • Better messaging – With all those extra characters available, savvy AdWords marketers are able to include more useful information, stronger competitive differentiators, and more compelling calls to action. It should also be noted that having an 80 character line allows marketers to for more complete and comprehensive thoughts. With traditional, shorter text ads, ideas were often interrupted by line breaks, or abbreviated for space. New expanded text ads allow for a more complete description and a cleaner presentation of those ideas. This even allowed AdWords marketers to…
  • Dissuade the wrong clientele from clicking on your ads – This is one of the subtler and more overlooked opportunities presented by expanded text ads. Most AdWords marketers recognize some of the Google Searchers clicking on their ads reside on the fringes of their true target clientele. For instance, searchers may be looking for a different product that is closely related to you product, they may be looking for a product in a different price point, or they may be looking for specific sizes, capabilities, colors or styles that you do not carry. Including sizes, colors, price points, watts/volts, etc. and clarifying the specifics of your product can help keep the wrong people from clicking on your ads. This reduces costs, and costs per conversion.

Optimizing Expanded Text Ads

Time is ticking!

First and foremost, get them running ASAP.  It is important to get at least one ETA in every single adgroup. The clock is ticking. More importantly, every day that you delay, you are failing to capitalize on the potential benefits expanded text ads provide.

  • Splits test – Apparently some clients believe that the best use of an expanded text ad is to simply combine the verbiage from whatever traditional, shorter text ads they were running to form a single expanded text ad. These folks seemingly understood the value of split testing before. That value is even greater now, because expanded text ads afford you more flexibility and opportunities to experiment. FYI: you can split test expanded text ads with traditional ads so that you can monitor their performance against a baseline, and maintain your highest quality traditional text ads during the transition period.
  • Keyword inclusion – Let’s be honest. We all have a handful of ridiculously long keywords that we love to capture. Perhaps things such as, “where do I buy…” or “how do I find a good…” are keyword phrases with fantastic conversion rates. In the past, it was nearly impossible to include these keyword phrases word for word in the ads, and certainly in the same line of the ad. With the new expanded text ads that is typically no longer the case, and almost every keyword phrase can be included in the description. It is our strong recommendation that you do not split keyword phrases between different lines in the ads. In the end, direct keyword inclusion has the potential to improve both quality scores and click-through rates.
  • Placement within the ads – With two headlines and a longer description field there is actually quite a bit more freedom to move important elements of the text ads around. It makes a lot of sense to try different location (the beginning of the headline, the end of the headline, the end of the description) key elements of the ad, such as price, keyword phrase, call to action, etc.
  • The dash – The way expanded text ads are structured, there will always be a dash between the first and second headline. Use this to your advantage. One possible use is to set off an important element such as the price, with a dash on one side and the built in dash on the other side. Another possible use is to use the dash as a punctuation, such as Stress – Free Installation” or even “Only $10 – day.” This creative use of the dash can make your ad copy more compelling and flow a little better. Remember it’s all about user experience.
  • Ad Extensions – Expanded text as will still show ad extensions. However, many advertisers appear to be incorporating into the ETAs some of the points they found to be successful in the ad extensions, especially in the call out extensions. This means when the site link is shown the new ETAs seem redundant. Balance it. If you are moving the verbiage from and ad extension into your expanded text ad, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, it is important to edit the extension or remove it altogether. Again, user experience is the key and it makes a great deal of sense to provide new information. or more compelling calls to action in your ad extensions


We are very excited that the expanded text that are available and are as effective as initial results seem to indicate. Best of luck on maximizing the new expanded text ads.


–Bobby Ballash, Director of Search Engine Marketing


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