Digital Marketing | Guide

​Google Expanded Text Ads: what they mean and how to prepare

Desislava Stoyanova tells us all about the new type of text ads in AdWords - Expanded Text Ads

26 October 2016 ( words)
Desislava Stoyanova Desislava Stoyanova

ETAs are meant to improve qualified traffic and significantly increase CTR by as much as 20%.

Back in May this year during the annual Google Performance Summit, Google announced a wide number of changes to AdWords and Analytics, including new ad formats, mobile-first bidding options and more. The huge importance of mobile-first approach and creating a unified experience across all devices has been largely emphasised during the event as nowadays more than half of all the Google searches are done via a mobile device. That's also the main reason why back in February, Google decided to completely remove the use of right side ads on desktop. Now next to change significantly is the format of all the existing text ads, which according to Google will help improve the ad experience on every device. It's a change that is going to influence online advertising substantially. Therefore, we decided to summarise everything you need to know about it in this blog.

The big change

The big change we are talking about is the introduction of Expanded Text Ads (ETAs). Yes, you read that right! Google is actually allowing us to add more copy to our ads by increasing its ads text limits by 2x!

ETAs are specifically designed for a mobile-first world to give advertisers more control over their messaging. With double headlines and longer descriptions, users will now be able to find out more information about your product before even clicking on your ad. The new ad formats are available on both the Google Search and Display Network and are fully compatible with all types of ad extensions.

As with every Google announcement, it is hard to know exactly what this change will entail, what it will mean for your business and how to prepare for it. Lucky for you, we summed up some of the main aspects you need to know about the new ad formats. We are convinced that every marketer would find it impossible to stay on track without knowing all about ETAs and how to make the most of this new functionality Google is offering to us... so keep reading if you want to stay ahead of the game!

What are Expanded Text Ads and how are they different?

With the new ad formats, advertisers will soon be able to use two 30-character headlines, up from a single headline of just 25 characters, which according to Google is meant to improve qualified traffic and significantly increase CTR by as much as 20%. More text means greater visibility, right? This change is huge, especially for paid advertising, given the limited space available on mobile until recently. Fortunately, not only headlines are getting bigger, but also is the number of characters that can be in the description line. Now instead of having a pair of 35-character description lines, advertisers will be able to write a single 80-character description line. Another change you'll notice is that with ETAs you'll no longer need to match your final URL with a display one as AdWords will automatically extract the domain from the final URL, giving you the option to add in one to two paths to enhance the display URL, each of up to 15 characters each.

Here is a look at the difference between old ads and the new ETAs:

the difference between old ads and the new ETAs

Image courtesy of

First steps of transition

As of now, all advertisers have access to the new ad formats. While currently ETAs are the default option when creating an ad, users still have the ability to switch back to standard text ads.

Starting from January 31, 2017, Google AdWords will only support the creation and editing of Expanded Text Ads. However, all the already existing standard text ads will continue to serve past this date. This means that every text ad will eventually need to be rewritten, complying with the new format. Many marketers will have to spend some time writing additional copy and updating existing text ads. We have some good news though! Google has made it easier for us. By allowing us to overwrite the current standard text ad, we are already one step ahead in creating the newly expanded ad. However, don't get excited too quickly... If you want to make the most of this new functionality, simply adding a second headline is not going to be enough.

Tips on how to make the most of Expanded Text Ads

  • Create new ads – don't simply add a second headline to your existing standard ad but write instead a whole NEW ad! Use the extra characters to say something new, to add more value propositions and CTAs than you could before with the 95-character limit. Focus on highlighting what makes the product unique, on what appeals to your users, and that's only when you will be able to see a huge increase in your CTR. With the right words, you will soon see more clicks coming.

  • Bigger doesn't always mean better – more characters does mean more room to be creative and to experiment with new messaging tactics, but also more room to make mistakes. Users are not always happy to read more. Sometimes, they just look for quick results and your new larger ad might just seem as an obstacle to them. Be extra careful when writing your new copy, and try to use the right words to keep people interested.

  • ETAs are worth testing in any AdWords account - there are many instances where the ability to add more content to your ad could actually have negative implications. Therefore, once implemented, make sure you're checking back regularly and analysing their performance.

  • Focus on your headlines - even though the description field is by far the largest, the headlines are the ones that get all the attention. Therefore, include all your important messages in the headlines, test new ad copy, experiment with CTA, and soon you'll find out your CTR has radically improved.

  • Don't get rid of your old standard ads immediately – January 31, 2017 is the last day you could create or edit standard text ads but this doesn't mean that they will completely disappear from the search result pages. Existing text ads will continue to show up after this date as well. That's why, we would suggest that it's a best practice to firstly test your newly created ETA before fully eliminating your old standard ads. Just because ETA are new, doesn't necessarily mean that they will outperform your old ads straight away. Give it some time and wait until the performance of your ETA is relatively better! That's when it's completely safe for you to pause each one of your old standard ads.

  • Don't forget how important ad extensions are - including additional information below your ad such as your location, customer reviews, or additional deep links into your website has been shown to improve your ad's visibility and CTR, resulting in a better Quality Score. However, Google won't serve your ad extensions if they show information that's already included in the copy of your ad. That's why it's essential to make sure that you refresh the content of your ad extensions so it's not repeated in the body of your newly created ETA.

Google itself is calling this the biggest change to text ads since AdWords was released back in 2000, 15 years ago! It does indeed make a big difference, as ETAs are now 2x bigger and you have a total of 140 characters of ad copy space to use. This is great news for all advertisers out there! As a marketer now you have much bigger chance to attract users and double the space to add more unique content to your new, larger ads.

Be sure to make all those extra characters count by creating eye-catching and emotional ads that will much easily reach your customers and make your ad irresistibly clickable!

If you want to know more about this topic, or just have some general enquiries, we'd love to chat with you more!

Desislava Stoyanova

Author: Desislava Stoyanova