On May 24th the annual Google Performance Summit took place. Announcing a number of exciting changes to Analytics and AdWords; namely mobile-first bidding support and promoted pins for Google Maps, the search engine also announced that they would be expanding text ads.
A significant update to AdWords; Google is currently testing ads with two 30-character headlines and one 80 character description line. In addition to that, they are also testing two customisable 15-character path fields that will be automatically appended to your display URL. That's a whopping 45 extra characters to play with and an additional URL path – #winning.
The changing face of AdWords
As it currently stands you get 25 characters for the headline and two 35 character description lines. This means, if Google does roll out these changes, we'd get an extra 35 characters on the headline and 10 on the description line. Whilst to mere mortals this may not seem a lot, to the PPC gods, that means better messaging, more chances to highlight your business' USPs and, an extra clickable headline – hooray!
Although still in the beta phase, early performance tests suggest advertisers will see a big boost in performance; it's been reported click-through rates are up 20% compared to current text ads.
In addition to this, you may or may not remember that earlier this year Google removed ads from the right-hand rail of search results. Introduced to improve the search experience and creating consistency across devices, this meant that text ads were only going to be displayed at the top and bottom of the SERPs.
You may wonder what this has got to do with the new headline, but in fact it has absolutely everything to do with it. The new format meant ads no longer need strict character limits in order to fit in the right hand rail; paving the way for the newly expanded ads.
What does this mean for your campaigns?
A significant upgrade to the amount of ad copy you have to play with, we would recommend reviewing your creative to ensure that you're making the most of the extra headline. Re-evaluating your approach and focusing on this clickable space should hopefully mean you reap the rewards of your efforts.
Even without the upgrade, your headlines are more prominent than your description lines, so make sure to make your headlines enticing to the consumer. A great headline can make or break your ad so it's worthwhile spending the time to test and optimise.
Here are 5 top tips to make the most of your text ads
- Think like the user
Try to focus on user intent and what they want from your business; craft a message that focuses on this and the benefits of choosing you. In retrospect it makes total sense; we've noticed that across almost all industries ads with specific actions, sales, discounts and a level of urgency are more likely to entice a click.
- Test by volume and impact
To be frank, when the extra headlines are rolled out, we'll be working with a completely new ad format. The old rules and tests you've done will no longer apply so you'll need to re-test by focusing on the areas that matter the most.
Prioritise campaigns and ad groups where you think you can have the most influence. If you've got an ad group that just doesn't seem to move, test and optimise using the new ad format. Can you drive volume where previously there wasn't any?
- Use ad rotation
When the expanded text ads are rolled out, make use of ad rotation to ensure that they are shown over and above your standard text ads. Try 'optimise for clicks' or 'optimise for conversions'; depending on your requirements, to ensure that your new text ad has the opportunity to reach its full potential and outperform your standard ads.
- Keep using ad extensions
Take up as much real-estate as you possibly can. Introducing ad extensions mean your ads take up a lot more room at the top of the search results; with the addition of the extra headline you'll be soaring. Adding structure snippets and call out extensions will increase the text appearing with your ad, then try sitelinks and call extensions to add user-friendly features that drive clicks.
- Monitor lost impression share
If the existing performance results are anything to go by, you'll see uplift in clicks when expanded ads are introduced. With this in mind, take a look at your budget and how it's distributed. Shift budget from poor performers and less valuable campaigns to those that are profitable and valuable. If your ad looks as though budget is limiting impression share; try increasing it to give yourself some breathing room.