Implement Expanded Text Ads at Scale in Google Adwords

The new Expanded Text ad format is the biggest change to the Adwords text ad since it was invented decades ago. They sport a 47% increase (!) to text ad character limits in total. We’ve seen massive increases in click-through rates for our clients in the new ad format versus the old.

This is no minor change, and merits a re-thinking of your ads from the ground up, including coordination with your various Ad Extensions.

“But that means I have to re-write every ad in my account???”

Short answer: yes

Better answer: yes, but there are ways to do this effectively at scale, so you can take advantage of the new ad format ASAP, and then improve your ads over time


Old Format:

Headline – 25 chars

Description Line 1 – 35 chars

Description Line 2 – 35 chars


New Format:new

Headline 1 – 30 chars

Headline 2 – 30 chars

Description Line – 80 chars


As of July 2016, Google has offered limited beta access to select accounts, and they are only running the new format on 20% of ad impressions; they have not announced a date for the full roll-out out to all accounts and 100% of impressions, but we guarantee it will be before the holiday shopping season begins, around September or October at the latest.

How you should approach this update

Expanded Text Ads provide such an increase in ad real estate percentage-wise, that this is much more than just “how can I fit a few more characters into my ad” – this allows for a complete rethinking of your ad strategy, and how to best coordinate your various messages within the ad itself, as well as among your other ad extensions like Callouts and Sitelinks.

However, if you have a large account and are the typical busy paid search or digital marketing manager, you may be struggling to figure out how to best implement these ads and prioritize this effort versus your other tasks.

You may or may not be able to re-write all of your ads at a granular level immediately, especially during this limited beta period.

But rather than getting stuck in “paralysis by analysis”, you can apply a few tricks and tactics to get the “80/20” of the benefit from this new ad format without breaking your back, and you may find that you get better results from this anyway.

The basic idea here is to implement the Expanded Text ads format, at scale, across your entire account, at one time, in 30 minutes or less.

We recommend utilizing 2 separate new ads for each ad group, and 3 for higher volume ad groups. The ad themes would be as follows:

1) Tagline Variation

In a nutshell, this ad will involve simply adding a general message as your second headline. You will retain your keyword-relevant Headline 1, and simply concatenate your existing descriptions into one line.

The additional 10 character in the description line is not really game-changing, compared to the additional headline space. You can add a call-to-action in that additional 10 character space, but you should already have one in your D2!

2) Call-to-Action Variation

The second ad in your arsenal would involve adding your call to action as the second headline, after your keyword-specific headline.

Your would then use ‘find and replace’ in Excel to create a new generic benefits statement for use in your description, which can be longer than usual now.

3) Full ad re-write (high volume ad groups)

You’ve now implemented the new ad format throughout the entire account with two test ads. Now you should essentially sort your ad groups by cost for the last few months, and begin to write another custom ad for each ad group in order of priority, until 40-60% of your ad volume has been covered.

This is the most time efficient way to implement this new format at scale, taking advantage of it before most of your competition, while allowing you to improve and further customize ads as you have time.

Want a free account audit, strategy session, or just feeling lonely? Contact us here and we’ll get back to you shortly:

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