PMG Digital Made for Humans

The Future of Expanded Text Ads

3 MINUTE READ | August 23, 2016

The Future of Expanded Text Ads

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Brannon Low

Brannon Low has written this article. More details coming soon.

The paid search world is buzzing about Expanded Text Ads (ETA’s). We’ve written about them several times, but to provide some background, expanded text ads allow advertisers to use more characters (30-30-80) than standard text ads (25-35-35), and therefore, take up more valuable real-estate on SERP’s. The idea, according to Google, is that in a mobile-first world ETA’s “provide more ad space so you can showcase more information about your products and services before the click”.

When ETA’s were first launched they came with the lure of up to a 20% increase in click-through-rate. With an early look into performance, the claim seems to be substantiated but doesn’t tell the whole story. Another agency Merkle found that in non-brand accounts they get a 16% increase in CTR, but it appears that expanded ads CTR in brand accounts perform the same or even worse than standard ads. We think this is because in brand accounts consumers are going to click the ad regardless, but in non-brand accounts, the extra real-estate makes your ad more prominent and more likely to be clicked.

before and after (1)

Google is now making ETA’s the standard going forward. “It’s important to take advantage of expanded text ads as soon as possible because after October 26th, 2016, you’ll no longer be able to create or edit standard text ads.”

What does that mean for me?

This means all existing ads need to be transitioned from the standard text ad format to expanded text ads. If you’re thinking to yourself why not use the same headline, concatenate your descriptions together and call it a day? You’re missing the value of 45 additional characters. The most infuriating thing about writing ad copy is having a perfect ad, but being one character over the limit. Now you can serve a rich ad with all the information.

At this point, ETA’s have been around for about four months (including beta testing). Granted that is a relatively small time frame, here is an early snapshot of how non-brand ETA’s are killing it for our client OpenTable.

ETA performance chart

You can see that our ETA CTR is nearly double that of standard text ads, and our conversion rate is consistently several points higher than standard ads.

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We’re interested to see how these trends look after six months or a year when more brands adopt ETA’s. In the meantime, we’re looking for every opportunity to add more expanded ads into our accounts!

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