Google to Launch Expanded Text Ads Later This Year

Expanded Text Ads on the Way

Google Expanded Text Ads

Advertisers, get ready for longer text ads! At Google Performance Summit 2016, Google announced it’s rolling out expanded text ads in the coming year. These longer text ads will be 47% bigger than the current Google AdWords ads.

This major change in Google AdWords follows the removal of right-hand side ads in February. When Google removed right-hand side ads, it added a fourth ad at the top for highly commercial queries and allowed product listing ads (PLA) to expand out into the right rail where the right-hand side ads used to be.

Expanded text ads were first spotted as a test late last month. Since then, Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post and Search Engine Roundtable readers have pointed out longer organic search results and wider margins as well. Title tags were seen at 71 characters max. and meta descriptions at 278 characters max. I did my own test, which you can see below.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Here, you can see the difference between the old character limit (Expedia) versus the new character limit (Marriott). Expedia’s title tag is right at 55 characters and its meta description is 148 characters. Marriott’s title tag clocks in at 67 characters and its meta description at 266 characters.

It appears Google intends to take advantage of the extra white space by extending all SERP properties (e.g. organic results, Google Maps, and featured snippets).

Below is a table of the upcoming changes.

Google Expanded Text Ad Character Count

The shift toward longer PPC text ads gives advertisers the opportunity to write more copy, but longer ads may not necessarily translate to more conversions or even higher click-through rates (CTR). The reason is PPC advertisers have gotten used to writing succinct, compelling copy that they may not know what to do with the extra character count. In addition, advertisers utilizing callouts and structured snippets will have to make sure to avoid being redundant with their content.

It’s interesting to note that Google is adding more characters for all search results—both paid and organic—given the emphasis on mobile. With smaller screens on phones and tablets, you’d expect Google to want to show less text. Perhaps, Google is simply aiming for consistency between the mobile and desktop experience—or maybe the search engine giant is hoping the expanded text ads will further push down SEO results below the fold.

Only time will tell how SEO holds up with Google’s new AdWords feature and other properties. If you’re a PPC specialist, start writing longer text ads now, so you can have an advantage over your competitors later.