Ad you noticed? – Google’s expanded PPC text ads explored

Posted on September 6, 2016


If you’ve googled any kind of industry or service recently, you may have found yourself surprised at the number and length of Google Ad results at the top of the page. They suddenly seem much more informative.

You’re not imagining it. After attending the Google Performance Summit in May, Larry Kim from blogged that expanded text ads were indeed something that the search engine giant was in the process of introducing for AdWords. In fact, it’s allowing advertisers to cram almost 50% more characters into their descriptions than they could before – meaning more informative text ads, and more scope for PPC campaign managers.

Google Ads is flipping its current system of allowing one headline and two description lines, changing this to two headlines and one description line, but permitting more characters in both sections. It’s introducing a Twitter-esque 140-character limit for its new expanded ads, giving businesses a lot more room to play with than they had before.

Headlines are at the centre of this, and have been an especially imposing part of AdWords since Google upped the size of them in 2011. Where previously advertisers had a fairly miserly 25 characters with which to headline their offerings, they are now being afforded two headlines of 30 characters each.

As we mentioned in our blog in July, the internet has created something of a revolution for the humble headline, with some statistics showing that often, the big letters at the top are the only words of an article we bother reading. This emphasis on headlines therefore makes a lot of sense.

For the description line too though, users of AdWords will be given 80 characters to get their point across – a slight increase on the current total of 70 (two sections of 35 characters each).

In the UK, it appears that these changes are already well in motion, at least in beta mode. A search for ‘garden furniture’ this morning brought up the below rather wordy ads.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 10.56.05

You can see how the headlines are now broken into two sections separated by a dash, and the descriptions beneath them are generally bulkier. In fact, the second of those ads actually has a description line of close to 200 characters. This suggests that even more leeway is being offered by Google during this beta phase, and perhaps now is the time to be as wordy as possible about what you can offer.

If you use the AdWords interface, you may find that you are now being asked for two headlines in separate text boxes, and the description box is allowing you more characters. One you’ve inputted what you need to, AdWords will make it into something like the above for you, so the mechanics of the new format are pretty straightforward.

What’s more of a challenge is making your ad one of those that Google brings up for the search terms you’re targeting, and that’s where you need to be looking at factors like your click-through rate, keyword relevance, and the quality of your Google Ad itself. So please remember, don’t stuff your ad with references to items you don’t sell!

Google’s alterations to AdWords are just the latest symptom of an ongoing shift towards a more mobile-centric internet. Ditching the right-hand side adverts was the start, as they were a waste of time on mobiles where we generally don’t like to scroll horizontally. Longer ads at the top of the results listing should help advertisers gain more presence, while Google users will still be able to clearly see that these are set off from the organic results, offering a happy medium for both groups

Of course, if you need any assistance in making your AdWords campaign more effective or your site more mobile friendly, that’s what we’re here for, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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