Posted February 13, 2019 by & filed under Bought Media, Marketing, News, PPC.

Google launched the updated version of expanded text ads mid-2018, where character counts grew 47% overnight with an additional third headline and a second description. After 16 years of Google Ads, this refresher is said to have helped to increase click through rate by 20%. We have been delving in to the true impact that these expanded text ads have had on performance for our clients.

The first iteration of expanded text ads came in 2016 with additional characters and a second headline to the standard structure. Since then, this has been developed into three headlines and two descriptions, all with a rise in character limits, which gives us 300 characters to utilise.

As search ads have grown in character size by a whopping 216% since the first version of expanded text ads, we have obviously seen a shift in SERP placements. This means that with the larger expanded text ads, the third headline and second description were not visible on mobile devices. This is not necessarily detrimental as we can still utilise the further characters in the description, paths and headlines to inform users with the most targeted messaging as possible.

The Changing Trends In Search

Google’s micro-moments philosophy was established around two and a half years ago, distinguishing how peoples’ search behaviour has evolved; users now expect immediate answers or resolutions to their queries.

Searches including “best” have increased 80% over two years and the rise of mobile has been a focal point for digital marketers for the last four years, if not longer. This exemplifies the importance of delivering informative, personalised ads in order to have the strongest impact on the user as possible.

How To Optimise Your Expanded Text Ads

As touched on in my recent video on PPC trends to look out for in 2019, audience-based targeting has become and will continue to develop into a main factor in PPC strategies alongside, if not superseding, the traditional keyword-based method. Amalgamating both this contemporary targeting model along with the expanded text ads enables advertisers to deliver the most relevant and personalised ad messaging as possible which, in turn, will see an increase in CTR.

One area that we believe is not utilised to its best capacity is the additional 30-characters within paths. There are three main areas that paths can impact the quality of your ad:

  • The first and most-used is the standard keyword-related term to ensure quality score is as strong as possible.
  • The second is being more creative for the audience that you are targeting, including sales or messaging that is relatable for the relevant demographic.
  • The third area is one of the most unutilised aspects of paths – including a countdown. Including countdown functionality throughout ad copy increases urgency, so why not replicate this in your path to duplicate the impact that it has on the user?

The Impact Of Expanded Text Ads

Throughout the quarter prior to building out the newest version of expanded text ads for one of our ecommerce clients, we were seeing CTR at 10.09% with a conversion rate of 0.77%. Following the introduction of the new ad format we saw CTR slightly decrease to 9.54% in the first quarter, whilst conversion rate increased to 1.21%. As a result of these changes as a whole, we saw AOV increase 27% and in turn an 82% rise in revenue. Obviously, there are many contributing factors to changes in performance, therefore we are going to further evaluate at a device level to see if there is much statistical difference in the two formats.

The most successful uplift we saw was through desktop, with a 20% rise in CTR and a 94% increase in CvR, whilst mobile devices CTR decreased 12% however CvR increased 52%. Therefore, we can see that with the third headline and second description on desktop, users are more inclined to click through and convert with more personable and informative language built in the ads they saw. It could be said that through mobile, we have eradicated the surplus users that were less likely to convert as we were giving them the answer to questions that they would have found further down the user journey and bounced, as we can see the users that did come to site were 52% more inclined to convert.

Additional Quick Wins For Expanded Text Ads

  • Utilise all characters as much as possible. Don’t include full stops/periods at the end of your headlines or descriptions as this is dead space that you could be using to include more targeted, granular messaging for the user.
  • Include your main messaging and CTAs in your first two headlines and description to ensure you are not losing any important information when shown on mobile. Of course, this is only relevant if you are not developing any mobile-specific ad copy.

Overall, the development of expanded text ads have seen the positive impact on our paid landscape as many people suggested. I wonder where Google plans to take them next, or whether we will have to wait a further 16 years for another significant change.

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