3 Simple Expanded Text Ad Writing Strategies

Google Expanded Text AdsWith the global rollout of Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) in Google AdWords many advertisers are now presented with the prospect of needing to overhaul their ad copy. For starters, a brief explanation of the difference between the old text ad format and the new ETA format.

What Are ETAs?

The original text ad format was limited to 25 characters for the headline, 35 characters each for the two lines of description and 35 characters for a display URL. This produced the traditional right-side ad that we’ve seen for over a decade:

With the end of right-side ads the need to fit the narrow right rail was abolished, thus allowing Google to reconsider how they want ads to display. ETAs are the new normal and feature the following format:

  • Headline 1 – 30 characters
  • Headline 2 – 30 characters (separated from Headline 1 by a dash)
  • Description – 80 characters
  • Display URL – the root level domain of the Destination URL
  • URL Path 1 – 15 characters
  • URL Path 2 – 15 characters

This produces an ad that fits more with the organic listings on the search engine results page with the exception of the green “Ad” tag:

idaho falls plumber Google Search

This is a significant change, so I present 3 high level strategies for updating your ads to the new ETA format.

Option 1: Straight Conversion

This may require some massaging, but since the 2 headlines are 60 characters and your old headline + description line 1 was 60 characters you just use the same info. Your old headline becomes Headline 1, the old Description Line 1 becomes Headline 2 and you put the old Description Line 2 in as the new Description. You can leave the URL Path fields blank or add keywords similar to what you did with your previous ads (provided it is 15 characters or less).

Option 2: Super Headlines

For this option you put the old Headline as the new Headline 1 and Description Line 1 and 2 into the new Description field. This leaves you with Headline 2 as entirely new real estate to make a Super Headline.

Option 3: Test, Test, Test

The two options above are easy to implement and require the least amount of adaptation. However, neither is particularly sophisticated and they don’t are likely missing out on opportunities to improve. So our third option is to set up new tests and see what works best in your specific industry with your customers. So you don’t feel like that’s a massive cop-out, here are a couple ideas:

  • Test the CTA in your Headline 1 or 2 fields. It will be more prominent and visible.
  • Include benefit statements in your Headline fields.
  • Pose a question in Headline 1 and offer the solution in Headline 2.

Like all other ad testing strategies, it’s important to be flexible and test different delivery and see which version your customer base prefers.

What’s your strategy for transitioning to Expanded Text Ads? Are you still holding onto the content from your old ads or are you writing entirely new ones with the new real estate? Share with us in the comments!