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Expanded Text Ads: A/B Test Complete

Expanded text ads were first announced in May of this year, at the Google Performance Summit. Once again, Google had changed the game. The launch of the extra-long ads with double headlines was specifically intended to provide mobile users with more information. When ETAs were first launched, Google boasted of an average CTR increase of 20% in early tests.

ETAs went live in Google Adwords starting in July. Clearly, advertisers had some significant ad copy edits to make. There was general excitement over the more flexible 30-30-80 ad format but did it last? Over here at Dowitcher Designs we run Adwords campaigns for numerous clients so I of course immediately created new sets of ads to run alongside the standard text ads. After two months or so of testing the new format, here are my initial thoughts regarding performance. Let’s see if ETAs live up to the hype.

Early Data (Individual Results Vary Widely)

The long-term expectations are that ETAs will produce better click-through rates. Google doesn’t launch ad updates that negatively impact users’ chances to click an ad, at least not to my knowledge. It took some experimentation and finessing but, eventually, my ETAs did begin to outperform my old ads. However, I have not seen any massive CTR spikes. In addition, performance across devices has been a bit varied. ETAs don’t support a mobile ad copy option, meaning the same message goes across all devices. Generally speaking, desktop has performed much better than mobile and tablet. This doesn’t align with what Google has said about the new longer format being designed with mobile users in mind. In Google’s eyes, giving mobile users more information up from would incentivize them to click. My CTR results sure don’t mirror that.

According to SearchEngineLand, other agencies report minimal effects on brand ETAs but improvements from ETAs on non-brand traffic. Still other companies are saying that on average ETAs are generating higher CTRs. And many are seeing desktop outperform mobile. It’s fair to say that it’s a mixed bag of results!

Go Forth and Experiment

On October 26, 2016, Google will retire the old/standard format (you won’t be able to create standard text ads) so if you haven’t already, play around with the ETAs in you Adwords campaigns. It’s not as easy as you might expect to craft [strong] longer titles and headlines! I’ve learned that longer headlines typically work better. I’m also in favor of using descriptive phrases that give more detail about a product or promotion. (But always keep in mind that I don’t have to use all of the available characters.) Be sure to review Google’s best practices on how to create effective text ads.

So, Google ETAs: are they good?, bad?, is it too soon to tell? What’s the consensus? Chime in below!

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