Everything (!) You Need to Know About Expanded Text Ads

Quinns Textad Post
Quinn Dolan
July 26, 2016

Whenever Google announces something major, the tech industry freaks out almost as much as the Hollywood industry spontaneously combusts when Taylor Swift gets a new bae.

Case in point: At Google’s annual 2016 Performance Summit, which took place on May 24th this year, the tech giant announced several AdWords changes set to take place later this year. Throughout the keynote, Google stressed the idea of a “mobile-first world,” which didn’t come as a huge surprise, considering that over half of all Google searches happen on mobile these days.

The real excitement came in when Google announced expanded text ads. In a blog post about the Summit, the search engine claims, “To help marketers succeed in this mobile-first world, we have redesigned AdWords — from the ground-up — and re-thought everything from creatives and bidding, to workflow and measurement.” Google even called them “the biggest [change] to our text ads since AdWords launched fifteen years ago.”

Um, whoa. Is your attention piqued yet? Let’s break this down.


First of all, what are expanded text ads?

Most of us are familiar with today’s AdWords text ads. It’s made up of one 25-character headline, two 35-character description lines, and one 35-character display URL.

So what does an expanded text ad look like in the mobile-first world?

  • Two headlines: Expanded text ads will have two headlines, both 30 characters in length and separated by a dash.
  • Longer descriptions: The new text ads will feature only one description line with an 80-character limit. That’s a whopping 10 extra characters to describe your product or service.
  • Customizable URLs: The expanded text ads interface will automatically pull the domain from the final URL to ensure accuracy. Additionally, advertisers can customize the URL with up to two paths.

Here’s an example for Quinn’s Quality Quilts. (No, I don’t currently make quilts. But who knows what the future will bring? At least I know what my text ads will look like.)

Old text ad:



New expanded text ad:



What can expanded text ads do for your business?

The benefits of expanded text ads are pretty clear. For starters, the new format increases ad text from 95 characters to 140. That’s nearly a 50% increase!

This means extra copy, so you can provide more information and further promote your product or service before searchers actually click on your ad. In a perfect world, this means more relevant, higher quality traffic, which is obviously beneficial to business.

Google claims that expanded text ads are optimized for mobile screens, but it’s already evident that the new format will benefit ads across all devices. According to Google, early testing has shown up to a 20% increase in click-through rates compared to the old 95-character ads.

Expanded text ads take up more room horizontally on the SERP, and the extra characters allow businesses to pitch their products even more. More and more advertisers will also be including a call-to-action (CTA) in one of the headlines (like in the example above). Nonetheless, if you decide to leave the CTA out of the double headline, be sure to include it in the description.

Finally, although Google might not admit it, the new ads undoubtedly look more like organic listings. The 60-character double headline more closely resembles the roughly 60-character title tags featured on Google’s SERP. This similarity will also likely account for lifts in click-through rate, as people who normally scroll right past the ads might now find themselves accidentally clicking on them.


What’s next?

For now, expanded text ads are still in beta, but they’re expected to go live for all AdWords accounts shortly. My advice: make the time to start rewriting ad copy now.

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, you can’t expect to create a thousand new ads overnight. Start now, don’t look back, and bask in the glorious performance increases when expanded text ads officially launch.


What was your favorite announcement from Google’s Performance Summit? Is your business ready for expanded text ads? Tweet us @Perfect_Search.


Quinn Dolan
Director of Search & Social Advertising

Quinn, a Notre Dame alum, hails from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin (A.K.A. BROconomowoc, A.K.A. The Real OC). Though he’s not afraid to admit that he wants to swim in a pool of spaghetti noodles, his guilty pleasures are shower beers and The Bachelor.

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