BlogGoogleAdwordsExpanded Text Ads for a mobile-first world

Expanded Text Ads for a mobile-first world

PPC hubbub - Expanded Text Ads
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On the 24th May 2016, Google announced many an update to their Adwords advertising system during the Google Performance Summit. We covered the Summit during our Live Blog and one of these announcements made was Expanded Text Ads.

Expanded Text ads are designed to maximise your presence, particularly on mobile search results. With nearly 50% greater ad copy, this format features a more prominent headline and extra room to highlight your products and services. This gives more control, and richer ways to deliver relevance and personalisation to users during the micro-moments that matter.

Ad Copy hasn’t changed in Google for fifteen years. Yes, we have had extensions to text ads evolve over the years, but character length in text ads hasn’t changed.

We explore what this means for you as well as give you actionable insight that you can use on your paid search campaigns.

What’s actually happening to Expanded Text Ads?

Text ads are changing

Google are giving advertisers up to 50% more ad space for text ads across all devices. Where this will most likely have the most impact is on Mobile, and Expanded Text Ads are designed to give advertisers more freedom to answer user queries better. Improving the quality of ad copy in this way will improve the experience for everyone.

PPC hubbub - Expanded Text Ads

Historically the right hand side ad space has meant that ad text character limits have been constrained to:

Headline: 25

Description line 1: 35

Descriptions line 2: 35

Display URL: 35

With the new expanded text ads, we get 2 headlines and a longer description line. Overall this makes the character limits:

Headline 1: 30

Headline 2: 30

Description: 80

Display URL: removed, now auto extracts domain from the final URL but we can use Path Fields which gives 2 fields to populate in order to manipulate the Display URL (eg

PPC hubbub - Expanded Text Ads 2

Initially this is a Beta launch over the next few months for selected advertisers. But this will be the new ad format for all text ads – eventually all text ads will become Expanded Text Ads. Currently, there is no forced migration date and we have been told that you can have you can have both expanded text ads and standard text ads running in the same ad group during this Beta.

To begin with, expanded ads will be eligible to show on 20% of ad group impressions and it will scale up from there until full launch around Q3.

Some important things to remember

  • This will not change how ad extensions appear, or which extensions are shown—we have been told that there is currently no change to extensions.
    • Use all appropriate extensions such as Structured Snippets, Call Our Extensions etc. But remember to not overlap content with the new Expanded Text Ads.
  • This will not change the number of ads shown above the natural results. However, it goes without saying that these expanded ads will take up more space—especially on mobile.
  • Expanded Text Ads will appear at both the top and the bottom of the Google SERP.
  • They are compatible with Search Partners, GDN, Ad Customizers and Ad Variations.
  • They are not compatible with Call Only Ads, App Download Ads or Mobile Preferred Ads.
  • The “display URL” field as it currently stands will be no more.
    • In this new format, Google will automatically populate the display URL field based on the domain of the final URL. As mentioned we also have options to use Path Fields.
  • Yes, eventually you will have to re-write all your AdWords ads. But the benefits of doing so will be huge, you’ll definitely be missing out if you don’t test!
  • More about the Beta phase;
    • During the beta test, this format will NOT be supported in the API—meaning your management platform won’t be compatible with these new ads.
      • That should NOT stop you from testing! Contact your platform (DoubleClick, Kenshoo, Marin etc.) to discuss when you begin testing.  They should all have been briefed by now!
      • Dates for API availability has not been nailed down yet but we have heard rumours of around June/July. Google knows that this is crucial, and they have committed to providing this functionality long enough in advance of launch that the platforms can develop for it. There should be no excuses from your 3rd party bidding tools!

Tell me what Expanded Text Ads means to me!

Benefits for advertisers:

  • Gives advertiser control of new second headline
  • Longer creative messaging
  • Clear landing page in the Display URL
  • Up to 20% CTR uplift over existing text ads – ensure that you have sufficient budget to cover the (almost guaranteed) uplift in traffic
  • Mobile optimised experience
  • Additional line over existing text ads
  • Brands with long names can make real use of the extra space in the headlines.

Yup, you are going to have to re-write every single piece of Ad Copy:

Don’t panic! Remember the benefits, and calm down. Everyone will eventually be in the same position, but for now; be prepared for a lot of work over the next few months. As we will see below, Google is giving us more than enough time to transition over so you shouldn’t be in any trouble. We recommend that you should test, test, test! Get used to writing ads with the new character limit, use every little bit ad space to drive relevance, and shout about your USPs! 

Impact across Organic Listings:

The impact is somewhat unknown. We know that Paid Traffic is more often incremental to organic traffic for advertisers, but there is worry that this will be a bit of a blow for SEO; particularly on Mobile. What we do know is that Google are currently testing longer Organic titles and Meta Descriptions which isn’t a coincidence. This increases the size of the organic listings by around one line which provides a real opportunity to tell users what the page is about. It’s still not known if this will become permanent yet.

Impact across Devices:

Desktop – has been on the decline for Google for a while now, this helps claw back some of the lost  revenue on this device in particular. Increasing the ad real estate here can only be a good thing for Google.

Mobile Optimised Experience – Expanded Text Ads will not have a mobile preferred option. Usually we have mobile optimised text ads which are opted in to show only on Mobile; here, we keep the messaging short and sweet. This goes against this by taking up more of the SERP. Why? Google recognise that behaviour on Mobile is different – we swipe so much on Mobile, therefore text ads can take up more of the SERP. Google recognises user’s intent on Mobile is to get answers to queries, relevant to the moment they are in; want-to-buy, want-to-know, want-to-do etc. With standard text ads, it’s hard for advertisers to satisfy the needs of users with such limited space. Now, Expanded Text Ads advertisers get more space to answer these queries better; therefore, increasing CTR.

Conversational Shopping:

With the future of shopping being through Voice Search, this gives advertisers more room to be more “conversational” with their ad copy. We know that this is a focus for Google over the next few years as it’s AI and ‘machine learning’ continues to grow.

Impact on Relevance and Quality Scores:

As we know, relevance in ad copy to the users search query is an important component to Google Quality Score algorithms. With this extra space, in theory Advertisers have more room to drive relevance and therefore a further increase in CTR.

What does Uploading look like?

You’ll be able to create expanded ads in the Adwords interface or via bulk upload, but for now the integration with third party tools in the Beta is a little off i.e. not currently available at the time of writing.

Adwords setup will look something like the below…

PPC hubbub - Expanded Text Ads 3


This is currently only available in beta for a few select partners for a portion of Adwords traffic. Nothing has been set in stone yet, but through the hubbub we can see that the full rollout of Expanded Text ads will be in 3 phases which looks like the below…

  1. July ’16 – Expanded Text Ads are made available to advertisers
  2. Q4 ’16 – You’ll no longer be able to upload standard text ads. Expanded Text Ads will become the new format, but rest assured tat ads in the old format will still continue to serve.
  3. Q2 ’17 – Ads in the old format will no longer be able to serve. New Expanded Text Ads will be the norm for everyone.


I don’t know about you, but we are super excited about Expanded Text Ads. It gives advertisers so much more to work with in order to better answer user queries.

One of the reasons why we set up PPC hubbub was to help improve the quality of Paid Search across the industry. This new product gives advertisers a true opportunity to make ad copy super relevant and more appealing to users.

Nothing frustrates us more than poorly written copy; lazy advertising gives the industry a bad reputation. With Expanded Text Ads, there should be no excuses as to why you aren’t utilizing every character to help answer users queries in the moment.

Dan Roberts
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