In 2015, 1.4 million businesses and non-profits benefitted from using Google’s advertising tools nationwide AdWords and AdSense, Google’s advertising programs allow businesses to show ads based on keywords that a Google user inputs into the search engine. Google displays the ads on the results page.If the Google user clicks on the ad, the advertiser pays Google, an arrangement called “pay-per-click”. Pay-per-click advertising is part of the broader shift in advertising away from traditional media toward more finely targeted digital advertising. Since AdWords’ release in 2000 and AdSense’s release in 2003, Google has constantly worked towards updating and refining the services it provides. Whether you use a virtual marketing assistant, an independent consultant, or manage AdWords yourself, make sure that you and those supporting you are aware of and ready for the changes.

Beginning on January 31, 2017, Google AdWords will be switching from use of standard ads to expanded ads.

What are expanded ads?

Expanded text ads allow AdWords users to add more content to their ads then previously. The additional real estate is designed to better capture the attention of the increasing number of users of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Like standard text ads, expanded ads are available on the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network and are supported by all current AdWords tools.

Key Differences

  • Expanded ads will appear 47% larger than current text ads.
  • Expanded text ads will have two headline fields instead of one. You can now have up to 30 characters per headline field instead of 25 characters total. Headlines will appear next to each other, separated by a hyphen. (They may wrap to a second line depending on a viewer’s screen size.)
  • Expanded ads have one description line instead of two. Rather than have two 35 character lines, you now have one 80-character description field.
  • You no longer have to enter you display URL when creating a new expanded ad. AdWords will now use the domain from your final URL and give you the option to combine it with up to two new option path fields, which are added to the display URL.
  • Expanded ads are now optimized for mobile platforms. You will no longer have to select the mobile device setting when creating or editing a text ad. Both desktop and mobile formats are automatically generated.

These key differences will help in improving the click through rate (CTR) of ads, since more text and larger ads means greater visibility. This was confirmed by early reports by Google, which have revealed up to a 20% increase in CTR.

Transitioning to Expanded Text Ads

AdWords still currently supports the creation and editing of standard text ads as well as the new expanded text ads. However, beginning January 31, 2017, AdWords will no longer support standard ads. Any ads created after that date must use the expanded ad format. You will not be able to edit standard ads after January 31st, but they will continue to exist alongside the new ads. Here are some steps you can take to help you update your current text ads and transition to using expanded text ads.

Updating existing standard text ads:

Opening an existing standard ad will now open the ad in the expanded ad format. Your existing ad will be used to populate the new format. By opening an existing ad in the new format, the standard ad will be replaced by an expanded ad. To create an extended ad without removing an existing standard ad, you’ll want to hover over the ad and select “copy and edit” from the dropdown menu.

Bulk editing:

You can edit multiple ads at once if you prefer to update all your standard ads at once in the same way you can bulk edit standard ads normally. Bulk upload also supports expanded ads, and includes additional column headers.

Best practices for using new expanded text ads:

  • Don’t pause your old ads right away. They will continue to exist alongside any new expanded ads you create. And just because expanded ads are new doesn’t mean they will outperform your existing ads right away. When creating new extended ads, include them in your current ad groups alongside your old ads. If their performance isn’t as good as your standard ads, keep testing your expanded ads to figure out what will work well for you.
  • Optimize your headlines. Consider the different ways in which your headlines will appear on both desktop and mobile, and write all your ads to target users on all devices. Don’t just add a second headline for the sake of adding more text. Use this as an opportunity to say something new. Include your most important messaging in your two headlines, but remember that your first headline is for more important information than your second headline. It is also crucial to remember your headlines will appear differently now. With expanded ads, two headline fields will now be separated by a hyphen and may appear as wrap text, depending on a user’s platform/screen size.
  • Revamps your ad’s message. Rather than simply adding a second headline to your standard ad’s current headline, take into account that you are able to present your ad differently now and include more information than previously allowed.
  • Take advantage of the expanded character limit. You can now communicate more to your viewers and have increased clickable space on your ads thanks to the new character limit. Be sure you are taking advantage of this, since more space/larger ads can lead to more clicks.
  • Include top keywords in the path fields. Since the new ad format will automatically pull the domain for the display URL from your final URL, you no longer have to specify the domain in each ad. You will also be able to add up to 15-character path fields to your display URL, which you should take advantage of. These additional fields can help users find ads that will take them to specific landing pages relevant to their interests or online searches. This can contribute to boosting your ad’s CTR, improving their quality score, and reducing your Cost Per Click (CPC).
  • Update your ad extensions. Ad extensions show additional information and are used to improve visibility and add value to your ads. With extended ads, since you can add additional information to the ads themselves, use this opportunity to update your extensions to make sure the content doesn’t repeat itself.

Google will phase out all standard ads on January 31, 2017, and you must transition to the new expanded ads by that date so plan accordingly. Start using and experimenting with the new text ads now (and it will take some time to figure out what works best for you and your business), or get some help to transition your ads to the new format.