In February of this year, Google announced they would no longer serve ads on the right “rail” (or sidebar) of their search results. This move was designed to improve the consistency of the search experience when using multiple devices, especially mobile devices that lacked the space to show results in the two column format.
Then earlier this year, Google began testing longer ad text which was made possible by the new single column search results. The longer ad text was believed to improve the search experience by providing more information to users before they click. As the use of mobile devices for search grows, this move clearly aimed to make the mobile experience better in what Google calls “a mobile-first world.”
On July 26, 2016 Google announced the roll out of expanded text ads to all AdWords accounts. Expanded text ads are designed with the most popular mobile devices in mind and consist of two longer headlines with up to 30 characters each and a single, expanded description line of up to 80 characters. This adds a significant 45 more characters to the 15 year-long Google ad standard of a single headline of up to 25 characters and two description lines of up to 35 characters each.
In addition, the display URL for expanded text ads allows for 2 optional “path” fields. This lets advertisers improve the display URL’s specificity for the search query and ad text.
Google provided the following illustration of these changes:
While the expanded text ads are available to everyone now, Google is allowing advertisers some time to add/test the new expanded text ads and keep running the traditional (shorter) text ads; but come Oct 26, 2016 all ads must follow the expanded text ad format in order to be served.
The data seems mixed in terms of how this change will impact performance for digital marketers. Many expect to see higher CTRs (click thru rates) and lower CPCs (cost per click) with the expanded text ads. It is likely that we won’t truly understand the impact until after Oct 26 when all ads consistently serve in the expanded format.
My advice is to test the new expanded text ads now (while keeping your best traditional ad text running) and learn as much as possible ahead of Oct 26. This approach allows digital marketers to measure changes and anticipate/mitigate any negative impact it may have on your advertising performance.