Last month Google rolled out its new expanded text ads – a new type of text ad that has 47% more characters to play with than the original 25-35-35-35 formation. The new expanded ad has two (yes, two) 30 character headlines, plus an 80-character description line. Side-by-side they look like this:

In order to take advantage of these additional characters, advertisers have to create new ads manually and the easiest way I found to do it was to create them within a spreadsheet and do a bulk upload. I downloaded the current ads (non-mobile preferred only) and worked with the headlines and landing pages that were already there. I then added in the extra headline and any additional characters that could be used in the description, and first headline, where appropriate.

I then did a bulk upload of the new ads, previewed the upload and approved the changes:

preview - exp ads

But how are they performing so far?

As the expanded ads are a new feature and the old text ads are still available, and in some cases working really well, we uploaded the new expanded ads to run alongside the old, so 50% of the time the old ads show for each ad group and 50% of the time the new ones do. We can therefore directly compare their performance against one another, to see if Google’s research is right:

“Our research shows longer ad headlines are more useful to mobile users because they provide additional information about your business before they click your ad.”

From the accounts that we have uploaded them for so far, we have found that the CTR is generally higher for the expanded ads but the conversion rate remains better for the original text ads. Out of the accounts that we investigated, 72% had higher CTRs for the expanded ads, but 64% had higher conversion rates for the old style text ads.

What does this mean?

Instinct would tell us that the new ads should have a higher CTR – the extra real estate on the page makes them stand out and if not all competitors have opted to utilise these extra characters yet, then it would make sense that our expanded ads would have a higher CTR. However, for the client accounts that we looked at, this hasn’t necessarily meant an increase in conversion rate, so is it a good thing?

It is currently very early days and it’s not a fair test if all ads on the search results page are not the same and some have more text than others. Just like before, advertisers need to ensure that they write compelling ad text with a clear call-to-action to attract the ‘right’ people to click on their ad over the others on the page – someone that is likely to become a future customer!

The new expanded ads just make it easier for advertisers and agencies to say what they want to say in an ad. Hopefully they now have a sufficient number of characters to write in clear, and correct English (or whatever language they are using), without having to abbreviate words or dig out the thesaurus to find a shorter adjective to fit the tiny character limit, for example.

Is Google favouring expanded ads?

From a quick analysis of our client accounts it shows that the expanded ads are getting slightly more impressions than old text ads (80% of the accounts we looked at had a slightly higher ratio of impressions per ad for the expanded ads in the account), but it is pretty even to be honest. However 80% of the time the normal text ads had a higher average position than the expanded ads.

Please bear in mind that these figures are from personal experience, looking at a handful of client accounts so should not be taken as gospel. It’s too early to tell the true effect these extra characters will have on our campaigns, so watch this space….

Have you started using expanded ads yet? What are your thoughts? Please let us know in the comments, and if you need any help getting up to date with expanded ads, give us a call.