Google testing expanded text ads

Author avatar

Melanie Hyde

Back in mid-February, Google shook up the paid search market significantly by removing the right-hand rail of adverts and making it possible to have four paid search adverts above organic listings, rather than the previous three.

With the emergence of mobile and second-screen searching, this change made logical sense to most search marketers, standardizing the experience across devices to give a clear and consistent message.

This closed beta aligns with Google’s ambitions to standardize the search experience across devices, and expanded text ads are primarily optimised for the first interaction to be had on mobile – and, as we have known since May 2015, mobile search has overtaken desktop in developed countries.

Expanded text ads are designed to maximize an advertiser’s presence in search results. With nearly 50% greater ad copy, this format features a more prominent headline and extra room to highlight unique selling propositions and a call to action.

At the moment, advertisers’ headlines can extend to include the first line of description copy when that line ends with punctuation. This format has only been available to ads served in the main search results, but now that the right rail ads are gone, Google can change the conventional format of text ads.

The biggest difference in this closed beta is that the text ads will feature an extended headline with further 10-character count of description copy, taking the total to 80 characters.


This is interesting because the expanded ad text format heavily mimics that of organic listing, and in a recent Ofcom study released this month, it states that 50% of adults who use search engines struggle to distinguish a paid ad over an organic ad as it is, and any change that is rolled out would probably muddy those waters even further.

Display URL format changes

The other change within this closed beta is the display URL formatting. It will be possible for two paths/directories to the domain name to be appended, again looking more like an organic listing with a real display URL:


Closed beta: final thoughts

Expanded text ads are being tested in a closed beta, and it’s too soon to know when it might open to more participants but it is worth speaking to your Google AdWords representative to find out if you’re eligible, as we do not envisage it will be in beta for long!

The proposed changes would give the advertiser more control over the second headline, which in turn allows them to have longer creative messaging, which should uplift CTR over existing ads. What we’re all wondering at Branded3 though, does this increase in expected CTR positively affect the AdRank of those in the closed beta?


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