Google AdWords introduces “Extended Text Ad” Format (ETA) Ads

Google AdWords introduces “Extended Text Ad” Format (ETA) Ads

In late Q3 2016 Google made the biggest change to Search Campaign ads in 15 years when they introduced the new, 140 character Extended Text Format Ads. They extended the format of the traditional 4-line text ads from 95 characters max to 140. Should you convert your AdWords campaign ads to the new extended text format? The answer is a resounding “Yes”. Here’s why.

Since AdWords was introduced over 15 years ago, Google search ads have utilized a 4-line, 95 character text format as shown in diagram 1.

Diagram 1: Conventional 95 character Google Search Campaign Text Ad Born: 1998 Updated to ETA format: Q3 2016

Three or four ads were displayed at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs), and up to 8 more ads were displayed along the right side of organic search results as shown in this screenshot of a typical “search engine results page” (SERP) in diagram 2, below:

Diagram 2: For more than 15 years, until Q3 2016 Google displayed 3 to 4 paid search ads above organic search results on the SERP page, and up to 8 more ads along the right column.

Then came the mobile revolution.

During 2015, the massive worldwide adoption of smartphones (and tablets) worldwide started to dramatically change the way people utilize the web. By 2016, the majority of searches leading to leads being generated and sales being made, had shifted from desktop and laptop computers, to smartphones and tablets in many markets. Desktop and laptop computers are not likely “going away”, but because mobile traffic has become so important to advertising, Google first in mid-2016 removed the right column ads This was a precursor to the bigger change a few months later, the biggest change in Google AdWords since it’s arrival: Extended Text Format ads. They wouldn’t have worked on desktop/laptop search pages, had the right column ads not been removed first.

Extended Text Ads are no longer optional

Google predicated (discontinued) the creation of new 95-character search ads in October 2016. All new search ads must be created in extended text format:

Diagram 3: Creating an Extended Text Format text ad

They work better on mobile – and desktop/laptop

The new extended text ads, having up to 140 characters instead of the original 95, allow advertisers to pack part of the message of a landing page into a pair of 30 character headlines, an 80-character description, and two 15 character “pseudo path” fields. Blastoff’s editorial calendar has an article pending explaining in detail how to properly utilize all of these fields (you can subscribe to our blog to receive updates).

ETA Ads Look Better, and Work Better

The new ad format looks better on mobile devices, and on desktops.

Diagram 4: Google’s New “Extended Text Format” Ads look great on mobile devices

But… Is there a “gotcha” with the new ad format?

Yes there is! In a sense, Google has “given us more rope to hang ourselves with”. Typically we are seeing substantial boosts in click-through rates and conversions after upgrading campaigns to extended text ads. However, this is not a given and it is quite possible for performance to decline if the ads aren’t setup properly. The new ads require a greater understanding of marketing principles to configure properly.

Another issue is, in many campaigns it is a very significant project to convert ads into the new format. It is not simply a “cut and paste” project, there is new marketing thinking, and utilization of a number of new “trade know-how” (applied marketing tricks involved.

To date Google has not introduced tools to “seed” the new ads with data from the old ads, creating a starting point. It is possible to do a workaround by using spreadsheets and/or Google AdWords editor, to somewhat reduce the manual effort and time required to transition.

We’ll go into more detail about proper configuration of extended text ads in a pending blog post.

Share Your Perspective on ETA’s

What do you think of Google’s transition to ETA? Do you plan to convert your campaigns soon?

©2017 Blastoff Labs Search Marketing, Inc.
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