Advertising is everywhere. It is hard to escape the constant targeting and messaging across all devices and platforms we now see. As a consumer, I can say it is extremely frustrating when I see an ad that is irrelevant in my life disrupting my online experience. As an advertiser, I see this as an opportunity to break through the never-ending noise and be the brand that properly engages with the user. To do so, ads must be as specific, relevant and eye-catching to prove the brand worth for the user.
In Paid Search, creativity is somewhat limited to the ad space, but the good news is the ad space is currently evolving. Ads have changed from the once Standard Ad, with only 95 characters, to the Expanded Text Ad (ETAs). The new ETA format will be the official ad format for Google starting in January. ETAs have 140 characters vs. 95 characters and they give advertisers the opportunity to customize ad copy and utilize additional real estate on the SERP.
We have posted several times about the benefit of working with Google’s new Expanded Text Ad format, but the question now becomes: has everyone taken advantage of this newly added character count to its fullest ability? It is tempting to throw placeholder ad copy in the new ad format for the sake of launching ETAs quicker. At first, you will probably see stronger results when comparing ETAs to Standard Ads much like we did (ETA V1 had 11% higher CTR than Standard Ads), but the benefit here is short-term as more and more advertisers are rolling out ETAs of their own.
In order to break through the noise and lower CPCs, we started analyzing our ad relevance in the NonBrand campaigns. Why does ad relevancy and additional keyword coverage in ad copy matter? By increasing keyword density, Google bolds the keyword uniformity between the search and the resulting ad copy so the ad is more eye-catching to the user. In addition, the quality score can improve with more granular ad copy.Thus far, we have improved 92% of our current ETA ad copy, whether it be an improved headline, path, or a combination of the two. We had an overwhelming amount, 68 percent, of all changes made in the headline alone to ensure the maximum number of keywords are visually pronounced in the headline. After these updates, ETA V2 has a 53% stronger CTR than the Standard Ads in rotation. Additionally, ETA V2 CTR is 34% higher than ETA V1 CTR and V2 has 22% lower CPCs. It is important to note that Google has started transitioning more traffic to the ETAs, and since the ETA V2s were launched later in August, the performance is slightly skewed by the increased traffic and slow shift away from Standard Ads.
From the ad relevancy exercise, we have learned to focus on quality over quantity with ETAs. Again, at first you may see strong results from pushing ETAs live without much thought, but taking the time to add the most keyword density in your ad copy has significantly higher benefit in the long run. For the sake of user experience and breaking through the noise, focus on relevancy for the most impactful results.