By now, you’ve heard the AdWords Expanded Text Ads announcement. This is big news for search engine marketers. Initial Google reports cited CTR lifts of 20%. But the change is going to require a massive amount of copywriting—or risk missing out big. Unless you’re one of a few beta testers, Expanded Text Ads isn’t yet available in your AdWords account.  For most advertisers this opportunity to rewrite ads will arrive sometime this summer, according to Google. But what can you do now?

You can start preparing for AdWords Expanded Text Ads with an audit of your current creative landscape. Boost Media has compiled a creative audit checklist to help.

SEM Creative Audit Checklist

Account-wide creative issues

  • Appropriate ad rotation settings. For analysis on ad rotation settings, check out this Boost Blog post on Ad Rotation settings.
  • Correct number of ads per ad group. For most advertisers, this number is 2-3.
  • Ideal use of ad extensions. Are they applied correctly at the ad group or campaign level? Are you missing out on expanded sitelinks or structured snippets?
  • No disapproved ads. This list item speaks for itself.
  • No deadweight ads. Pause your lowest-performing ads. They’re dragging down performance and quality score. Look for ads with CTRs notably worse than the average ad group CTR and fix them.
    • At Boost, we like to take this one step further with a Lexical Analysis, which identifies top- and bottom-performing words and phrases across various segments of your SEM program.
  • Appropriate usage of dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) and ad customizers. Check out the Boost Blog for in-depth thinking on how to apply DKI and ad customizers.
  • Use of mobile-preferred creative. If you haven’t yet invested in mobile-specific copy, you should. But if not, at least consider these mobile ad copy ideas from the Boost Blog.
  • Look for abandoned tests. If you’ve had a lot of different people and vendors touching your campaigns over the years, you likely have some abandoned ad copy tests that were never evaluated or paused. It’s time to conclude forgotten tests.
  • Don’t forget about Bing ads and GDN text ads. One common approach is to update ads on AdWords and then roll them out to Bing Ads. Before you do that, consider these 6 reasons you might want to customize Bing ad copy.

Ad-level creative issues

Use this checklist on both ads and ad extensions. It doesn’t help to have perfect ad copy if your sitelink still says “Spring 2014 Coupon.”

  • Outdated or seasonal offers
  • Outdated product messaging
  • Misspellings
  • Ads that don’t read well or don’t make sense
  • Brand name included in headlines of ads in branded ad groups
  • Missed opportunities to use a trademark symbol on your brand
  • No irrelevant ads that don’t match the ad group, have poor textual relevance,  or utilize low relevance landing pages
  • Copy is missing  a call-to-action

Global creative issues

  • Check for language parity. In most regions, advertisers can benefit from targeting both the local language and English. Take advantage of that, but remember many countries outside the U.S. are accustomed to British English.
  • Identify possible translation issues. If you’re managing foreign language campaigns for a language you don’t speak, look for ads that have an especially low CTR or CVR and flag them to be looked at by a native speaker in case the ad contains a translation error.
  • Start thinking about how you will get foreign language copy re-written. Even brands with in-house localization teams won’t have enough bandwidth to turn the new ads around quickly enough once AdWords Expanded Text Ads goes live. If this is a concern, reach out to Boost. We have a global network of copywriters and creatives to help you!

Putting it all together

And after all that, start rewriting and editing your ads now!  You can do this yourself or use Boost to rewrite your ads. It’s more work than you think. By the end of this creative audit, you should feel more prepared for the AdWords Expanded Text Ads copy rewrite, having a clean foundation to work from. Even before the new format becomes available in your account, you should see stronger performance, thanks to the audit. You can also expect to have some new insights on what messaging works well for your brand, which will help inform your strategy on what to include with all those extra characters coming soon to an AdWords account near you.