25, 35, 35… 25, 35, 35… 25, 35, 35… 25, 35, 35… 25, 35, 35…
Paid media managers don’t count sheep to get to sleep; we recite the character limits for ad copy.
However, a new day is dawning. After 15 years of the same format, the same rhythm and the same frustrations of trying to fit complex messages into such a small space and writing wonderful prose that is only 35 characters long, the restrictions have been relaxed and we get a little bit more text to play with.
Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) are here with 2 x 30 character headlines, an 80 character description, and 2 URL paths
Why the world needs Expanded Text Ads
Google first confirmed the long-muted move to ETAs at their performance summit in June and made the release universal yesterday (26th July). This is great news for everyone, as users will get to see more new messaging, advertisers can explain more why they are better than competitors, and we paid media managers can finally release our creative side (we’ll try not to get carried away).
As much as we’ve tried to avoid it, ads have become boring since everyone follows roughly the same optimisation techniques: main keyword in the headline, key call-out in description 1, brand message in description 2, and a display URL containing the main keyword again.
This isn’t laziness or being uninventive, but a necessity forced by Google’s quality score looming large over performance and advertisers fighting hard to keep CPCs as low as possible.
I think this is a major reason for the new ad format. Google is focused solely on users (*cough*), and they’ve recognised the ads are becoming bland. Therefore, by relaxing the rules, ads will become more varied and engaging for users.
An Early Look
With the new format ads, there won’t be as much pressure on advertisers to cram the ads with best practice keyword placement. That means we can talk to users rather having to sacrifice some flair for function.
We’ve been running the expanded text ads for a while for some clients, as Google granted us early access due to our Google Partner status and the good health of our accounts. The results have been good, with increased CTRs across the board, as we’ve gained a competitive advantage over our clients’ competitors. It’s allowed us go back to what makes our clients great and showcase that within ads.
Making the Most of Expanded Text Ads
Rather than just adding another headline to existing ads, it’s better to take the opportunity to start afresh and think of what makes your brand different and what users want to see. That’s not to say we throw away 15 years of structure and ad testing to build the perfect ad, but let’s take the good bits and focus more on a point of difference than parity.
Would emotion help? Am I communicating my amazing delivery options? Have I mentioned the range of products I have? Have I said why I’m better than my rivals? These are all things we should be asking ourselves as we begin to write new ads.
The task of writing new ads for accounts is a big one, as accounts can have potentially tens of thousands of ads each tailored to different keywords and audiences. It will take time to work through accounts, so we’ll be starting with the top priority adgroups within accounts, and expand from there.
Standard ads will stay in place until October, at the earliest, so there’s still plenty of time – but the sooner the better, so we can steal a march on clients’ competitors!
It also gives us an opportunity to talk with our clients about what makes them great, which is always an enjoyable conversation. Learn more about the work we’ve done for our clients by checking out our client case studies.
Now repeat after me: 30,30,80… 30,30,80… 30,30,80… 30,30,80… 30,30,80…