2016 Google Performance Summit: Expanded Text Ads and More

May 24, 2016

Digital Marketing Bradley Hearn By Bradley Hearn

Ready for larger text ads?

Today, Google unveiled its latest updates at the Google Performance Summit. And unsurprisingly, most of the changes were geared toward an increasingly mobile-first world.

Expanded Text Ads: Characters Welcome

Today’s biggest announcement for retail advertisers confirms what digital marketers have speculated about for months: bigger, better text ads.

The new ads will be available later this year.



What’s Different? (30-30-80)

Everything about the new text ad has expanded: longer headline, longer URL line and more room for ad copy.

Previously, text ad headlines were restricted to 25 characters. Now, you’ll be allowed two separate lines, with 30 characters per line.

The URL has also been expanded to allow two directory paths. You can use the two paths to describe the page’s content, though you don’t necessarily have to match the landing page URL anymore. Think of the new URL line as space for even more strategic product or service descriptions.

Speaking of product description, the description area has been expanded to 80 characters.

These new character limits give you a sum total of 50% more advertising space in your text ads.

Why Change Text Ads?

The announcement marks the first major change to text ads in 15 years. Nobody knows better than Google just how popular mobile searching and purchasing have become, and most of the company’s recent design and functionality changes are in response to this trend.

Back in February, Google did away with text ads along the right rail, presumably ceding more room to the ever-popular PLAs. But that move also streamlined the page — making the new results appear more akin to, you guessed it, search results on a mobile device.

Google could also be responding to a market in which smartphone screens are beginning to shrink again. A text ad needs to be bigger if it’s going to compete with a big PLA image.

Possible Implications of Expanded Text Ads

As text ads increase in size, there won’t be room for as many of them on the page. So space on the Google results page gets even more valuable and more competitive.

Expanded text ads will also push organic search results even farther down the page, making the fight for SEO more difficult.

But the biggest and most obvious implication of larger text ads is how much more space you have to advertise your products. For example, the headline on current text ads has only enough room to say what the product is, and that’s about it. The description area is where an advertiser might briefly delve into the specific benefits for the consumer.

Now, with 60 characters of headline space, you can grab a consumer right off the bat by describing the product’s value in the headline. Then, in the description, you can elaborate and offer deals, promotions or whatever else might entice a click.

Google indicated that in early testing, some advertisers reported increases in click-through rates of up to 20% compared to current text ads.

At ChannelAdvisor, our team is already working with retailers and branded manufacturers to shift their ad creation strategies to make the most of this new space.

AdWords Bidding: More Control, More Devices

Since many advertisers are now approaching their campaigns with a “mobile first” mindset, Google has responded with the next generation of Enhanced Campaigns, which debuted in 2013.

First of all, AdWords bidding will now expand from two devices (desktop and mobile) to three devices (desktop, mobile and tablet). Additionally, base bids will no longer will be anchored to desktop. You can now anchor your bids to whichever device you think is most valuable and adjust other bids from there.

Before, advertisers were forced to set desktop bids, then set individual bid adjustments for mobile devices. As mobile became a larger focus, the setup proved frustrating and inefficient for many advertisers.

This new device-level bidding in AdWords — which will roll out in the coming months — will give you more control over how you approach ad spend and allow you to adapt quickly to a mobile-focused audience.

We’ll be watching these developments and will bring you more details and strategies as we learn more.

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