What Does Google’s Expanded Text Ads Mean For Advertisers?

Expanded Text Ads

Earlier this month, Google introduced a significant change to their standard text ads with the release of ‘Expanded Text Ads’.  Providing more character space for advertisers and increasing the headline from a single headline to multiple headlines, expanded text ads provide an immediate opportunity for advertisers to convey more of their marketing message to potential customers. 

Why Did Google Make The Change?

Last year, for the first time, mobile devices surpassed all other devices in the number of searches, and the percentage of mobile searches is expected to continue to rise.  With the original text ads, best-practices had advertisers creating one set of ads for desktop devices/tablets and another set of ads for mobile devices.Make Each Click Count

Google strives to keep a balance of providing the best experience to its users while also providing all the tools needed for advertisers to be successful.  With keeping to that core principle, expanded text ads display the same across all devices and have eliminated the need for advertisers to create multiple ad sets based on device.

This change also helps advertisers who were not creating mobile specific ads, as the new expanded text ads, which will be the only type of ad supported as of October 26, 2016, makes creating mobile friendly ads unnecessary.

Changes To Character Limits

The original text ads character limits were as follows:

Title/Headline – 25 Characters.
Description Line 1 – 35 Characters.
Description Line 2 – 35 Characters.
Display URL – 35 Characters.

Expanded text ads have the following character limits:

Title/Headline 1 – 30 Characters.
Title/Headline 2 – 30 Characters.
Description Line 1 – 80 Characters.
Display URL + 2 optional paths – 15 Characters each.

The most significant changes include an increase of nearly 50% in the amount of characters an advertiser can include in their ads; the change from one headline to two and the way the display URL is formatted.

Character Limit –

Expanded text ads now allow advertisers to use 140 characters combined in the two headlines and the description where original text ads allowed advertisers 95.

Multiple Headlines –

The change from one headline to two is more designed for mobile devices.  Before with standard text ads, if an ad was closed with a period punctuation, the first line of description text would serve as a second headline on desktop devices; however not always on mobile devices.  Now with the second headline, there are always multiple headlines across all devices.

Below are examples, of how an ad appears for both desktop devices and mobile devices:

Desktop ad

Expanded Ad For Desktop Devices

Mobile ad

Expanded Ad For Mobile Devices

As you can see in the examples above for online merchant and client, Trenz Shirt Company, both the mobile ad and desktop ad display as identical.  Creating the same experience across devices has also been the goal of Google and expanded text ads now has ads doing just that.

Changes To Display URL –

Before with original text ads, the display URL needed to match the actual website URL and then advertisers where allowed to append a keyword(s).

Expanded text ad’s URLs use the domain from the final URL for the display URL.  Advertisers are then allowed to add two paths with a maximum of 15 characters each that will display behind the display URL.

Let me clarify.  In the previous example, say the final URL, where a user is directed if the ad is clicked, is: https://www.trenzshirts.com/political-t-shirts/Before with original text ads, the display URL would be https://www.trenzshirts.com/political-t-shirts/However, with expanded text ads, the display URL is https://www.trenzshirts.comThen, the advertiser can opt to use two 15 character path fields to append with keywords that will give the user a better description of the page they would land if the ad is clicked.

Ad Extensions –

All ad extensions are still available to be used with extended text ads and remain vital in achieving high click through rates and a high quality score.  For a review of best-practices using ad extensions, see my previous blog post, When It Comes To Your Google Ads, Size Does Matter.

Effectively Using Expanded Text Ads

All of the best-practices of writing ads still apply to expanded text ads.  These best-practices include:Make Each Click Count

  1. Relevant to keywords in a campaign/ad group.
  2. Clearly set expectations.
  3. List benefits and features.
  4. Include offers, be specific.
  5. Be unique.
  6. Be grammatically correct.
  7. Add relevant keywords to display URLs.
  8. Implement relevant ad extensions.

However, now that advertisers have 50% more characters available there is more space to rework ads to convey a stronger message to potential customers.

When reworking your ads, advertisers should keep the following in mind:

1. Don’t simply add a 2nd headline to existing ads. Take the opportunity to look at all ads and rework your message. If you put in the work to create more effective messaging it will pay immediate dividends, as many of your competitors most like won’t.

2. Use existing character limits. New extended text ads have 45 additional characters. Rework ads to ensure you are using the full limit in order to effective convey your marketing messages.

3. Optimize headlines. Most potential customers will click on an ad based on the headline now headlines. Use Google’s system of rotating ads to fully optimize the best headline and then keep testing.

Summary –

Standard text ads will be supported until 10/26/16 at which time only extended text ads will be available.  However, advertisers should convert their ads as quickly as possible.  By converting ads, advertisers will have a competitive advantage over advertisers who wait until the deadline. Typically, most advertisers do not perform changes until necessary.  For advertisers, who do they will have a couple of months of serving larger ads, which quite possible will increase their click through rates and subsequent quality scores.

Finally, the expanded text ads also provide advertisers with an opportunity to review all their text ads and refresh some stagnant ads that perhaps haven’t been producing high click through rates or at least haven’t been recently tested.

Overall, the development of expanded text ads is a great release that provides another tool for advertisers to enhance their marketing message in order to attract more customers.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing discovery sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 or schedule online.

Good Luck & Happy Marketing!


Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.