Google has been making significant changes to their text ads in the last couple of months. Back in February they’ve announced that they will stop showing right-hand ads in the search results in an effort to make the entire search experience more similar across various devices. Now we’re watching the roll-out of the new expanded text ads unfold.
More recently, they’ve announced that text ads will be getting significantly longer – 140 characters instead of 95 characters advertisers had on their disposal in the past.
New expanded ads will have two 30-character headlines and one consolidated 80-characters description line. The domain will now be automatically extracted from the URL to insure accuracy.
In a nutshell, advertisers will now have almost 50 % more character space to woo searchers and get them to click on their ad. Early 2016 Q2 reports from beta testers go as far as to suggest that the increase in click-through might be close to 20%.
Of course, there is no official data available just yet but this might be a bit far-fetched. Merkle has some early data that does show promise, however.
The feature is now live and reports are pouring in and these are generally favorable. Seems Google was right to make this turn. However, advertisers could test some of the new features even earlier.
I’m talking about the headlines here. Ending the headline with a punctuation mark will extend it with the first line of the description text, effectively creating a 60-character headline. Tests done by Scott Garret from Marketing Mojo show that an increase in click-through rates can be expected for non-branded ads (2.27 % vs. 1.90 % in favor of the expanded headline), but overall the standard-length headline ad still takes the cake with 2.96 % CTR compared to 2.30 % for expanded headlines.
There isn’t one really. All this shows is that further testing and experimentation is needed to better gauge what works best.
But it’s a bit unfair to compare new expanded text ads to expanded headline ads in the first place. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. The same goes for making claims of CTR increase for expanded text ads vs. standard-length ads. It’s a completely new ballgame.
Will Advertisers Profit from Expanded Text Ads?
Smart ones will. What I believe is going to change is the emphasis. It was all about the mechanics of the ads up to now. Search engine marketers when to bed and woke up with the 25-35-35 mantra etched on the inside of their skull. Whole generations of SEM professionals were raised on it.
This change will make it all about a smart creative. 140 characters give you a little more to work with – not much, but it’s a nudge in the right direction.
However, subpar ad copy will become even more obvious now. Inherently bad ads will start performing worse because they’ll be given even more rope to hang themselves with. That’s why it’s crucial for every solo entrepreneur to brush up on writing ad copy that stands out and converts.
5 Expanded Text Ad Copywriting Tips
It’s now time to play with your ad copy. I know a lot of you have worked hard on your existing copy and are just tempted to throw in additional keywords in to fill up the space.
Don’t – overstuffing never brought anyone any good. Besides, you’ll be at a disadvantage when compared to new entrants to your niche who take the time to write killer copy in the new format.
Instead, buckle up, sit down, and write new ad copy for every ad you’re running. It’s going to take some time but you will be glad you did it.
To start you off, here are some general copywriting tips that will come in handy now that we all have more room to say what we want to say.
1. Expand on your one idea
You might be tempted to throw in all the different ways your product or service is better than the competition; or about as much info about the product as can fit. It’s understandable but wrong.
Use the additional space to drive your one point home. So what you’re selling is not the most competitively priced, most comprehensive, and most used all at the same time – at least not in this one ad. It’s one of those things – tell them more about it.
2. Include your USP
Your ‘one’ idea will ideally be your Unique Selling Proposition – USP. It’s the very thing that differentiates you from your competition.
Expanded Google ads give you an opportunity to tell people more about it – what was ‘World’s Best Expensing Solution’ before now becomes – ‘World’s Best Expensing Solution – Don’t waste more than 5 minutes a week on your expenses – XYZ is a winner of ZYC international business app award.’
Now that you’ve got the space, brag a bit and let people know what makes you better than the rest and then back it up.
3. Use the element of surprise
Carlton, a famous direct response copywriter, is a master at this. His much ripped-off golfing ad starts with the following headline:
‘Amazing Secret Discovered by One-Legged Golfer Adds 50 Yards to Your Drives – Can Slash Up To 10 Strokes From Your Game Almost Overnight’
Now, 60 characters are not nearly enough to reproduce this headline but they are double than what you used to have to toy with before the Expanded Text Ads. Plus, now you have more space in the body of your copy –combine the headline with the body to tell an intro into an exciting story that will get people to click to read the whole thing.
4. Be specific and relevant
Use of numbers breaks up the text and adds to the readability of the ad. Numbers and special characters draw the eye – always a plus when you’re competing against 3 other ads in a crowded niche. Make sure your numbers are not rounded though – people react better to 7,487 than they do to vague descriptors such as ‘close to 8,000’.
Also, make sure that everything you write down is relevant to your ad and to your message. If your one idea – your USP – is that you’re the fastest cloud-based expensing software on the market the tell people who long on average it takes a person to do it – don’t ramble on about your superior customer support service.
5. Tell people what you want of them
Laugh all you want but I’ve seen ads completely devoid of a call to action. You can write the best copy in the world but if you don’t tell people what you want them to do, you won’t see much action.
The point is: don’t sacrifice a call to action to add another bit of fluffy copy – be clear and let people know whether you want them to try out the demo version, snatch up a bargain, or call your representative.