With the introduction of Google’s Expanded Text Ads (ETA), marketers have a more robust ad format that allows for more text, and Google has the ability to manipulate the layout to fit the appropriate screen for display.  While this is a strong shift toward mobile-first that levels the playing fields between natural search (SEO) ads and AdWords, it doesn’t guarantee better performance.


Google reports that some advertisers could experience up to a 20% lift in CTR.  The important word here is “some,” as it indicates that simply expanding ads with no plan is not a guarantee of success.  What follows is a set of scenarios you should test that will help guarantee the best possible performance lift for your brand.


Scenario 1: Test standard ads vs. ETAs using a generic new headline

  • With large accounts it is unrealistic to think that you can write custom copy for every ad. Trying to find suitable headline additions that can be applied across the tail of an account is important.
  • Be sure to test this method on groups of ad groups. The same additional headline in one product line will probably not work in another product line.
  • Don’t test things like “Buy Now!”. The odds of this generic approach being a success are very low.

Scenario 2: Test standard ads vs. custom headlines

  • The head and much of the trunk of an account needs custom copy. Testing custom copy against the old standard ads will ensure that you don’t just replace old copy with longer copy that is worse. Our early testing shows that standard ads can outperform ETA ads if ETA is done poorly.
  • Don’t be afraid of rewriting the entire ad. Adding copy to the end of a headline does not guarantee that the entire ad will make sense or drive clicks.
  • Focus on the big ad groups, as custom writing can be time consuming.


What’s next?

ETA introduced a longer description and a new URL path.  When you have found a new headline, then you move to testing descriptions and paths in the same process. Segment your account into areas that can use a template-based approach and areas that need custom copy.


Why not test everything at once?

Be sure to focus on one thing at a time. If you mix descriptions, headline and paths in one test, you may introduce a better overall ad, but one section may be causing the lift while the other changes are actually causing a drop. If you do one thing at a time, you stand a better chance of isolating what caused the lift and understanding the drivers behind what to do next. As you move toward complete optimization, many times you will gain insights that can be applied to other parts of the ad.


I don’t have the time for this.  What should I do?

Simply put: make the time.  If you don’t and your competitors do, you can expect to see a drop in performance as the competition captures more of the impressions and clicks. Just as Rome wasn’t build in a day, you don’t have to do this overnight. Set a steady pace and a strategy, and you’ll be on the way to performance increases.