If you’re busily planning – and implementing – your advertising campaigns for the autumn and winter, the latest move by Google could affect where you decide to spend your budget.
Google AdWords is rolling out its offer of expanded text adverts to its customers. They should be available for everyone by the end of the year. This means the restrictions on character count are being eased. From the usual 25-character headline and two 35-character descriptions, the expanded adverts give you a count of two 30-character headlines and an 80-character description. Initial feedback from users suggests that many are seeing an increase in click-through rates and page impressions.
Why is Google doing this?
It’s all about providing a seamless, unified service across all of the viewing platforms as mobile usage grows. More than half of Google’s searches now take place on mobile devices.
Statistics from comScore show that across the world mobile is a growing market segment, and that searches on desktop aren’t falling by comparison. To put it simply, we’re searching more in general and on smartphones in particular. Rather than having a very different user experience on both, Google is standardising its results to look the same across mobile and desktop, giving users more text for adverts, and it has removed the adverts on the right side of the desktop search results.
What are the benefits?
The old system allowed for advertisers to boost the size of their headlines, but that came at a cost of fewer characters in description lines. If your first description line ended in a full stop, exclamation mark, or a question mark, it could be eligible for a first line promotion. The description was boosted up to the headline advert, and you got an increased share of the search results.
Now, the bigger headline doesn’t hit the number of characters you can have in the description. You get more all around. URLs are also extracted automatically now – you don’t have to manually include them in the description text and squeeze everything in to fit the character count. You can also customise your URL with one or two paths – for example /menswear/boots. This is particularly useful for eCommerce sites with many pages.
Does that guarantee more page impressions?
There are no guarantees. In the beta test currently being carried out, some PPC experts report a handful of clients who had a lower click-through rate or impressions. However, they also report that the majority of their clients are getting more impressions from the expanded adverts – one gaining by 45%.
It depends on your business and the quality of your adverts, and whether your business has adverts at the top or at the bottom of the page when it comes to search results. One AdWords customer reported that there was an increase of 32% in the click-through rate when at the top of the search results, but just 10% at the bottom.
Having more characters to play with, though, is likely to be a good thing for most businesses. It allows your PPC team to be more creative.
It’s worth carrying out your own tests on the traditional and the expanded adverts, to see what works for your business.