While many aspects of PPC have changed and evolved since its inception, the format of ads is something that has remained relatively static. Around them, new extensions have been created, device targeting options have changed, Google shopping has developed and mobile devices are increasingly used to search the internet. It is with this last point in mind that Google has announced changes to the format of text ads.
With the opportunity opening to participate in the Expanded Text Ads (ETA) beta, this is a chance to test a new ad format which has increased CTR by up to 20% in preliminary tests.
The New ETA Format
Considering this new ad format has been deigned to improve performance on mobile, it may surprise some to learn that the new ad format contains considerably more content than previous ads. Two headlines of 30 characters each replace the previous single headline of 25 characters, and a description of 80 characters (a little like Bing’s ad format) instead of two descriptions of 35 characters each:
Similarities to Current Ad Display Format
You may notice that the example on the right actually looks similar to how some ads are currently displayed (below). What we have seen for a while is that Google sometimes places one of the description lines on the top line of the ad alongside the headline. This only occurs if punctuation is used in the ad to indicate a break in the sentence between description lines 1 and 2.
As an improvement of this way of displaying ads, allowing advertisers to control exactly how that two part headline appears certainly makes a lot of sense. The longer description also improves the appearance of the ad, as when half of the description is displayed on the top line, the second line of the ad can look a little sparse being only 35 characters sitting beneath the 60 character top line.
3rd Party Tool Support
As with many betas, advertisers are recommended to upload and edit these ads directly through the AdWords UI. If the beta is successful and the ETAs launch fully (around the end of June), Google are aiming to enable third party tool access via the API at this point.
Requirements to Participate in the Beta
Advertisers are required to create and upload ETAs into their account within two weeks of being whitelisted for the beta. However, we expect ETA’s to start showing anytime from today. Whitelisting for participation takes around two weeks and is open to any advertisers with a high volume of traffic through their account, so signing up as soon as possible will allow advertisers to be ready to display ETAs on their account when the ETAs launch.
How the Beta Works
During the course of the beta, Google will aim to display ETAs around 20% of the time and regular ads the rest of the time. ETAs will not be replacing advertiser’s regular ads just yet, but merely running alongside them, with hopefully improved performance. This is basically a worldwide A/B test being run by Google on advertiser’s accounts to make sure that the proposed new ad format does definitively improve performance. If results are positive, expect a rollout sometime this summer.
Whether ETAs become the new norm for search ads remains to be seen. In the meantime, participating in the beta certainly allows advertisers to be at the forefront of search and the potential for much improved performance.
Here at Croud we’ve been planning ahead of this launch and look forward to reporting back initial results over the coming weeks.