Creating excellence with Google’s expanded text ads

Thomas Ginisty, Senior Account Executive in our PPC team, looks at the implications of Google’s new ad format.

Utilising the extended headlines of expanded text ads can improve CTRs by 20 percent, our initial tests have found. Optimisation of the ad path to ensure user relevance is similarly impactful to the improvement of CTRs.

Expanded text ads were introduced by Google back in July 2016. Now, they’re the default format for Google AdWords. Having had time to test and measure the effect of this significant change, it’s time to share. How can we utilise the benefits to our advantage?

On first appearance

The new expanded text ad features two 30 character headlines and a unique 80 character description. This is a clear advantage over the standard text ad. ETAs offer increased space for the advertiser’s messaging, increasing engagement opportunity. Improvements continue with the display URL being replaced by two 15 character ad paths.

The comparison here highlights the additional copy space and targeted ad path of an ETA:

At its 2016 launch, this new format was introduced as a driver of increased CTR — especially on mobile devices. As expected, many PPC professionals have experienced strong CTR results — expanded ads have shown their superiority.

A leading development of the new format is the second headline. Users will generally read the headlines and might go on to read the description if they’re engaged. Having the extra space to capture the user’s interest and attention is a clear benefit.

Taking these benefits into account, we’ve focused on testing different ad copy to determine how to drive the best results from an excellent ETA.

Grabbing the headlines

So, we decided to trial an ad for the same page destination with two different headlines.

The first message had a clear CTA. The second reflected the premium positioning of our client. Unsurprisingly, the CTA-led ad had a 20 percent higher CTR. The additional space allowed for a more convincing message.

In the example here, the French headline in the first ad can be translated to read “Book online on with us” and the second to “Premium Client Services”:

Follow the right ad path

Including a CTA in the headline is clearly a great way of improving a campaign’s CTR.

Replacing display URLs, ad paths are a new feature that require testing. We tested ad path optimisation on a specific service called “Preferred”, offered by the same client. Testing the effectiveness of the optimisation is straightforward to action.

We took two identical ads and added “Preferred” to one ad path but not the other:

Optimising the ad path resulted in a 23 percent higher CTR. By adding one relevant word, we’ve increased the CTR by almost a quarter! Users are more likely to click through because the tweak to the ad path is directly helpful.

There are still more tests to carry out on expanded text ads as we continue into 2017. If you’re looking to get the most out of ETAs, there’s no greater starting point than maximising headlines and optimising ad paths.

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