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Keeping Up With Google: What Are Expanded Text Ads?

Mike Farrell

Google released expanded text ads (ETAs) in 2016. Initially, the expansion added an extra headline and grew the description to 80 characters. That empowered marketers to capture more real estate on the SERP and craft more targeted and engaging ad copy. More recently, Google nearly doubled the space available for paid search ads, with three headlines and two 90-character descriptions.

ETAs open a new world for retail marketers and should become the standard ad format for paid search. In this installment of Keeping Up With Google, we’ll explore what expanded text ads are and how they’re impacting retailers’ paid search strategies.

Release Date:

Google first offered expanded text ads in 2016. It further expanded the format in January 2019.

What It Does:

In its latest update to expanded text ads, Google nearly doubled the ad format. It added a third headline, with each headline having a maximum of 30 characters, and it added a second, expanded description. Now ETAs can feature a maximum of two 90-character descriptions.

Google still serves the smaller expanded text ads, but increasingly marketers are latching onto this new format.

It’s important to note that ETAs will not always show all three headlines and both descriptions. Depending on the screen size, the third headline and second description may not appear on the SERP. Google recommends that marketers include the most important ad copy in the first two headlines and the first description to ensure it will be visible to consumers.

Which Channels:

ETAs are available on paid search.

What It Means for Your Business:

Google’s most recent expansion of paid search ads has nearly doubled their size from 170 maximum characters to 300 maximum characters. With larger and more compelling ads, marketers can expect a significant jump in clicks and click-through rate. That means greater opportunities for retail marketers to attract potential customers and drive conversions.

Historically, the abbreviated character limit forced advertisers to sacrifice key information. That information could be a valuable promotion or “on brand” messaging. Instead, advertisers had to prioritize keyword-rich ads for searchability and quality score purposes. The new ETA format allows advertisers to achieve more with their text ads and not have to choose between creative marketing and keyword relevance.

Being able to communicate those differentiators will help retail marketers boost conversion and may result in ad budgets shifting toward text ads, especially as revenue grows and generates net new advertising dollars. Another benefit of the additional real estate is the ability to include more targeted keywords to boost ad relevance and in turn raise quality score. With better quality scores, retailers can capture higher ranking ads at lower CPCs.

ETAs allow retail marketers to tap into their creativity, provide more details about their products, and expand on their unique value proposition. Marketers should take this opportunity to test new messaging, develop more targeted ad copy for new versus returning customers, or highlight new features in top selling products.