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An intro to Google AdWords expanded text ads (1 of 2)

If you’ve ever been involved in paid search, you’ve likely already heard the craze about Google expanded text ads (ETAs) on AdWords. If you haven’t heard of them, you might be wondering why their launch was such a big deal? Well, it’s because it was the biggest change Google had made to AdWords in..wait for it… 15 years!

The launch of ETAs meant that for the first time in over a decade, paid search advertisers would have to rethink their entire approach to text ads on their beloved AdWords. From new character limits to additional headlines, ETAs had reshaped their playing field. If you’re already an expert and want to learn how to create dynamic, feed-driven text ads in bulk, be sure to read part 2 of this series.

The aim of this article is to examine or re-examine expanded text ads through a 360-degree lens. We’ll look at how they differ from standard text ads and the results that have been recorded so far. 

Note that we’ll focus on AdWords text ads and not Google Shopping PLAs. See how they differ in the graphic below:

AdWords text ads extensions

So if you’re ready to refresh or “expand” your knowledge of AdWords text ads, continue reading!

Google expanded text ads vs. standard text ads: what changed


Source: Search Engine Land

Knowing that there was so much hype around this topic, you may already know the differences. If you need a refresher or aren’t sure what changed, here’s an overview of the three main changes:

  • Character count

For as long as AdWords has been around, the ingredients for a Text Ad had been a 25 character headline and two 35 character description lines. It had been the same for so long that the combination 25-35-35 is, to this day, ingrained into the minds of anyone dealing with PPC advertising. Expanded text ads changed this combination, giving PPC managers a whole lot more room to work with, but also introducing an unchartered territory. The changes in character limits can be visualized in the chart below:


With expanded text ads, Google has provided PPC marketers 47% more characters to use, officially closing the book of good ol’ 25-35-35.

  • Ad Structure

You probably noticed that the previous chart describing character limits also shows a change in line placement. What’s this all about, you ask? The boost in character limit came with a boost in the number of headlines!

Previously, it was possible to make a longer headline with standard text ads, but only if it was eligible for a first line promotion and was paired with a shorter description. However, with expanded text ads, that second headline is yours to use, no matter what! Every aspect of ETAs has, therefore, quite literally, been expanded.

You can see the difference in structure in the example below with the top being an STA and the bottom, an ETA:


Source: Search Engine Land

Note: The two headlines will always be divided by a hyphen (-). Therefore, Google recommends keeping this in mind when optimizing your headline, as it appears differently on each device.

  • Mobile in mind

One of the main reasons for Google’s sudden change of heart about their text ad format was their shift towards mobile. They realized that a 15-year-old format wasn’t the best solution for a growing multi-device user base. Therefore, they created ETAs as a format suitable for any device. Since the format is designed to be mobile-friendly, Google got rid of the mobile-preferred ad option that was available with their standard text ads. They also pointed out that their research has shown that longer headlines were more useful to mobile users since they could get more information before even clicking on an ad.

Here is how a Google expanded text ads appear on both a desktop and mobile device:

Google Expanded text ads mobile desktop


How have Google expanded text ads been performing?

The amount of research done on ETAs doesn’t even come close to the years and years worth of data that’s been collected on standard text ads. Therefore, the overall performance of ETAs is still a bit up in the air. However, it is safe to say that many factors are involved in the overall performance of any ad format. In the past, many studies have suggested that AdWords text ads perform better with brand keywords (keyword associated with the manufacturer), while PLAs on Google Shopping see higher conversion rates for individual products and retail listings. 

Here are some interesting stats when looking into the performance of Google expanded text ads for both generic and brand keywords: Loreal_text_ads_case_studyThe health and beauty behemoth saw a 92% increase in click-through rate for one of their brands after switching to expanded text ads.


The major online loan company recorded an 18% increase in conversion rate for their generic keyword campaigns after making the switch.

So while it may be a little early to say whether or not they’ve lived up to their hype, the current stats are looking positive. Also be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new stats and more data on the format since all account should have been switched by now.

Did you know you can get started with ETAs using a product feed?

Once your campaigns and ad groups have been set up in AdWords, Productsup can help you create, manage, edit and distribute your expanded text ads to Google! Complete with bulk editing options and the Google Adwords API, we are you’re one-stop-shop for the prepping of your expanded text ads. Feel free to reach out for a free walkthrough of the software.

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