When Google makes a significant change to the way Ads are formatted and organised it can appear daunting to say the least. It can feel especially stressful given that, (at times), it seems like Google is being deliberately cagey about the content of its updates. However, this should not be the case.

In fact, there is a wealth of information about how and why Expanded Text Ads are not only a good idea, but can also do much to help sell your offering to a wider and more engaged audience and ultimately expand your business.

What are Expanded Text Ads and how are they different from the old format?

Put simply, Expanded Text Ads are a new format that enables advertisers to present more information about their businesses and, crucially, improves the experience of the user seeing the ads, they will look something like this:

Expanded Text Ads

Fundamentally, it’s a matter of adding one short line of text to the clickable link at the top of the Ad, so why is it such a big deal? And, more to the point, why do you need to bother reading anything about it at all? The answers to these questions really depend on how you view your business and your customer. What is important about this change is that it can have substantial positive impacts on a campaign’s click through rate (CTR) and overall engagement. Understanding this new format can, not only help you to achieve this yourself, but also inform you about wider aspects of user experience optimisation and what makes your potential customers tick.

It’s also important to remember that these changes are, primarily editorial and not technical, in other words they’re skin deep. To a degree then, making these changes is an accessible process, however, there are several elements of switching to ETAs that require a considerably more thought than simply thinking up another line of text to describe your business. You won’t automatically be getting the best results from these new ads just because the format has changed, seeking help from a PPC expert can help to ensure that your campaigns will always be optimised to provide you with the greatest number of leads at the lowest cost.

What makes Expanded Text Ads better?

Expanded Text Ads give advertisers the opportunity to present users with more information about the product or service they are interested in, before they’ve even clicked on it. This is an invaluable opportunity to sell yourself that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Giving the user more information enables them to make a value judgement more easily about whether it is worth their time to click on your website. Though this might sound like it has the potential to put users off, when used in the right way, ETAs can significantly improve both click through rates and the general quality of the traffic reaching your site. Less of your keyword bids will be spent on users unlikely to convert and more on those that are.

If you need further reassurance it should be noted, we ourselves have been rigorously testing ETAs alongside the old format (and numerous independent studies have also been published on the subject). We have consistently found at least some degree of improvement to CTR. In fact, when Google announced the new format, it published its own case studies showing significant increases in CTR when using Expanded Text Ads over the old-style ads find out more about the studies conducted here.

If I still haven’t convinced you, now would be the time to create any original format text ads because from January 31st onward you will no longer be able to create ads in the old format, nor will you be able to edit the ones you already have running. My advice? Make the changes now to avoid a big backlog of work once the old format is phased out.

Problems with Expanded Text Ads – What to do if you encounter any

Any big update like this one is bound to have some teething problems and we experienced a few here at Electric Dialogue when we switched our clients’ ads to the new format. For example, one client we represent (who had a very large number of ads in circulation) saw a decrease in performance for Cost Per Acquisition campaigns following the move to ETAs. We were tracking increased cost per click and cost per conversion, which combined with lower overall clicks and conversions, was initially cause for concern. So why was this happening and what could we do to resolve it?

The reason for this lower performance was Google itself, and it turned out that this was not a unique occurrence and advertisers and agencies across numerous industries had experienced lower than expected results following the changeover. The explanation we got also came from Google. After this slump had been noticed, Google support were contacted and it was established that, due to the sensitive nature of Google’s automated bidding strategy, the system, the machine, and the algorithm used to make bids needed time to re-learn and re-train itself. Simply put, the data Google was collecting about how to bid was incorrect and therefore the bids were too.

So, the solution? Wait. Having contacted Google support, we were told to wait for Google to stabilise and, following a nervous two weeks, the results again returned to healthy (and in many cases improved) levels. The most useful thing to do if you notice something like this happening to your campaigns, is to contact Google, or failing that, an agency, and most the time it will be resolvable.

Though it might not necessarily be a smooth road at the start, anyone who advertises using Google will eventually have to switch to the new format. The best thing an advertiser can do is to make sure that you’re getting the most out of the situation and make sure that you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to finally making the change. This way you’ll be ready for any nasty surprises that could be waiting around the corner.

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