Best Practices for Google’s NEW Expanded Text Ads
13 January, 2017
A point of view by Evelyn Worman, Digital Copywriter.
When I first started writing text ads for mobile, the big thing I had to get my head around was the tiny character limit. How was I meant to call out the brand, sell their benefits and include promotional offers in less than 100 characters? How could I possibly get creative with so few tools?
I had to think about the limited screen size and the context in which my ad would be seen. I also had to consider keywords, and how to fit them so they didn’t seem robotic and clunky when read. Let’s not forget calls to action, because without clear instruction, how will people know what steps to take next?
As copywriters we are told to create catchy titles and make every word count. Use short sentences, remove the fluff. Nothing is more true than for AdWords. You have to perfect the magical 25-35-35 limit so that your ad ‘crushes the competition.’ It was a huge challenge for such a little format.
That is, until Google rolled out expanded text ads.
Expanded text ads are twice the size of standard text ads, with double headlines and an extra-long description. According to Google, one of the main reasons for change was to offer more control for both advertiser and consumer:
“Expanded text ads [are] designed for a mobile-first world with both users and advertisers in mind. Expanded text ads give advertisers additional control over their messaging, and provide users with more information before they click your ad.”
You’d think this would mark the end of marketing woes everywhere. Not quite.
While more text means more visibility, it also spells the end for many best practices used since AdWords launched in 2000. Once it was a case of too little space, now it’s a question of “how the hell do I make the best use of 50 more characters?”
Here are some of the best practices for expanded text ads, for those us still getting to grips with the new format. Let’s get started.
- Use extra characters wisely.
It’s easy to reuse old text ads, combining description lines and adding an extra headline. Before you dive in, though, think about this: what worked then might not work now. Instead take the opportunity to “revise your entire ad creative.” Sell benefits, provide more insight and appeal to consumer’s sensibilities. Callout extensions can then be used to promote further services like free delivery or emergency breakdown cover, creating a stronger incentive for potential customers to click your ad.
- Update old callout extensions.
Speaking of callout extensions and extra characters, avoid repeating information that already exists as callout text. With all that fresh space, you may find the same features or keywords reappearing in different parts of your ad. Fine comb, update or get rid altogether. If you don’t, those carefully crafted ads you’ve sweated over run the risk of being disapproved by Google.
- Test and optimise headlines.
Headlines are big and prominent and are naturally the first thing a consumer will see. Make them count by testing the effectiveness of one headline over another. For example, your first headline could be your company tagline or a value proposition unique to your business. Your second headline gives you more creative freedom – it could be an irresistible promotional offer, a powerful call to action, or a question that sparks curiosity and inspires downloads. It might also be worth testing simple headlines against tongue-in-cheek versions if your company is still finding its brand voice. This can help you identify and market features that customers find most attractive.
Do you need help getting the most out of your Google AdWords? Let us show you how!