Expanded Text Ads for Beginners

A few weeks ago, the expanded text ad (ETA) feature in Google AdWords finally rolled out to all accounts. On October 26th, all standard ads running in accounts will be allowed to still be served, but any new ads will be forced to us the new ETA format. We have tested ETA’s in all of our client accounts as of August 8th. In 85% of instances, ETAs have matched or outperformed standard text ads (when all testing elements are equal). Without question, this ad format will have a higher click through rate on both desktop and mobile searches in the future.

How Are Ads Changing With ETAs?

Character Limit

ETAs have a longer character limit than standard text ads. Previously, standard text ads had a 25 character limit for the first line, followed by two supporting lines of 35 characters each. Like the image below:

Lansing SEO Ad Standard

The ETAs give you more characters to work with. The first two lines of text — which is actually one line, but more on that later — are both 30 characters long with an accompanying 80 characters of support text below.

Lansing SEO ETA

As you can see, headlines in the ETA are more attractive to click on.

Supporting Text Block

The supporting 80 text block is probably the easiest to work with. I have been inserting supporting details and selling points about why the client’s product or service is better than competitors. I have also been using that space for call-to-actions and teasers.

Display URLs

The treatment of the display URL is slightly different as well. Previously the URL character limit was 35; this made longer domains tough to work with. Now the root domain of the URL is embedded into the display URL with two spaces of text after the / of the domain. Each space of text allows for 15 characters each; allowing more flexibility and customization with the display URL than before.

How Do I Create ETAs?

I have found that after years of writing standard ads, making the transition to the ETAs was indeed harder than I would have perceived. When constructing the ads, the interface looks as such:

ETA Template

The challenge of ETA is creating the headline portion of the ad. AdWords has decided to separate the two headlines with a “-” which you might have noticed in the ETA ad for Netvantage. Here it is again:

Lansing SEO ETA

As ad copy reads, this can be very awkward. It forces you to plan and decide how to catch your audience’s attention, and parse it with keyword saturation in the headline. I have found that it is best to use a keyword, if character count allows, in the first headline. For the second headline, after the “-” I will either use supporting text of the keyword or the organization name. In all of the Netvantage examples throughout the post, you will notice I went with our name for the second headline.

I have also tested and played with geographical qualifiers, but again, that can be tricky with the “-” separating the headlines.

Example: Keyword – SEO company.  Geography: lansing, mi

Lansing SEO Sample ETA Test Ad

For this variation I lead with the keyword insertion and then you’ll notice I tried to use that “-” break as purposefully as possible. I then used some of our services and a selling point to cap it with the supporting 80 character block.

Another test within the same keyword and geography could be:

Lansing SEO Sample ETA Test Ad v2

In this variation I used the company name as the main lead followed by a selling point that used a portion of the keyword variant. I then used geography as a part of the supporting 80 text, along with supporting selling points for the approach we have.

So for the new format, the challenge again is what your lead headline will be, and in working with the headline break. Company name, keyword, selling point, geography and trying to get a combination of the two is the hard part. Don’t forget to use the 15 characters within the display URL for keyword insertion as well. And test! Don’t put these new ad formats in and walk away. Make sure your ad rotation is on the last button option – straight rotation and test your variations out. And be sure not to test them against standards ads, but against other ETAs.

Important to note in all off this is that it is still really important to use all the extensions available to you – including callouts, sitelinks, calls, and locations. Eating up more and more real estate on the SERP is a factor that will only become more and more critical to improve click through rate! Good luck.

Joseph Ford

Joe Ford is a Managing Partner at Netvantage SEO. In addition to overseeing day to day business operations of Netvantage, he directs paid search strategy and management. Ford is on the Marketing Committee for Impression 5 Science Museum, and the Executive Board of the Capital Area IT Council. He was previously a member of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Board of Directors for 8 years. Additionally, Ford is an adjunct faculty member in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.

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