Google’s expanded text ads (ETAs) are officially live! The new, longer mobile-first ad format is rolling out across all devices alongside the existing desktop-friendly standard ad format – but only for the time being. Beginning October 26, 2016, advertisers will no longer be able to create or upload standard text ads. Eventually, these ads will fade into the annals of paid search history and disappear from your search results page entirely.
Google has granted advertisers their greatest gift to date: 50 percent more ad copy space and extra characters to describe their products and services. But if you waste this opportunity, it will cost you big as competitors use the time to write ads in the new format, test them, and optimize their SEM strategies. With Google’s deadline quickly nearing, advertisers need to get to work writing existing ad creative immediately to remain competitive in the search marketing landscape.
We’ve been paying close attention to ETAs since Google launched the beta back in May. More than one-third of my company’s customers are already testing ETAs in 50 percent of their accounts. Here are three things we’ve learned that will be helpful to you as you build your own strategy.
1. Rethink your entire creative
Mashing together your existing description lines and haphazardly tossing Free Shipping into your second headline is tempting, if only to fill up the new space with some characters, but it’s not the answer. We’ve actually seen advertisers do this and watched as click-through rates drop by using the space filler strategy. Adding copy to the end of a headline without taking the entire message and brand into consideration doesn’t guarantee that the ad will make sense or drive clicks.
I’ll defer to Google’s Director of Performance Ads Marketing Matt Lawson who said:
Use this update as a chance to re-evaluate your entire creative. This is a chance to craft something new and more compelling than ever before.
Think opportunity rather than hassle.
2. Don’t abandon your old ads right away
As with everything in paid search, just because expanded text ads are new doesn’t mean they’ll outperform your old ads right off the bat. Run your new ETAs alongside old ads. If your standard ads are outperforming ETAs, take a look at which messaging strategies are working and adapt those in the ETA format.
3. Start thinking about the holidays
The holiday season is a huge revenue driver in search marketing. It’s also incredibly hectic and time-consuming for internal teams to manage promotions and write holiday ad copy at scale. If you want to take advantage of the most dollars this holiday season, you better have your ETA strategy worked out long before Google’s deadline. Prepare your internal team now.
Experiment with character length
Our initial beta testing suggests that longer ETAs have better click-through rates (CTR) on average, but the trend can vary by account. Here’s what we learned testing headline length across beta client accounts.
[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=”90%”]
|Character Length in Headlines||CTR*|
|*Versus average ETA click-through rate across Boost beta client accounts|
Google has more than 9 billion ads at its disposal. Sure, some are created by templates so the number of unique ads is smaller, but we’re still talking about rewriting billions of ads no matter how you slice it. Google has not publicly offered assistance for advertisers to tackle this issue. A significant amount of rewriting is required no matter how many unique or templated ads online advertisers use in their campaigns. If you haven’t already started preparing, there is no time like the present. Waiting until tomorrow may be too late.