Google Expanded Text Ads: Learn How to Transition ‘Cause It’s Go Time

Changes to Google AdWords

The Google Search Engine Results Page, or SERP, has gone through three significant changes in the first two quarters of 2016 concerning Google Text Ads. You probably even noticed some of them.

The first change was the removal of the right sidebar text ads. I don’t think anyone misses them as it clears up the SERP page.

The second change was the color of the “Ad” icon. These icons turned from yellow to green making the ads blend in with the green URL text. This makes Google Ads look less like Google Ads …

But the third change is a little more subtle, much more significant, and it’s currently available to all advertisers who use Google AdWords as of July 26th, 2016.

The Third Significant Change

In late April, Google unveiled expanded text ads, or ETAs — game changers for every search marketer, especially for those who manage Google PPC accounts. ETAs are the new way to format your Text Ads on Google’s Search Network and fits into Google’s vision of a mobile-first future. Here’s a breakdown of the changes:


Yes, plural! Google Advertisers are no longer constrained to a single 25-character headline. Google now guarantees paid search advertisers the ability to show two headlines in their search ads instead of just one. Google also gives advertisers more headline characters to work into search ads. Advertisers get an extra 5 characters per headline for a total of 60 headline characters, which is a 35-character increase. The new headlines are segmented with a dash between each so they do need to be separate clauses and cannot be a single sentence (see below). This is revolutionary because two guaranteed headlines not only draws the searches eyes to your ads, but it gives them a bigger target to click on, which is great for mobile. It also gives search advertisers more opportunity to improve Quality Score and increase CTR, which will improve your Ad Rank and decrease costs. Google estimates that ETAs will result in a 20% increase in CTR — but we’ll have to wait and see.


Dash and Two Headlines in New Google Ads
(notice the dash & two headlines)


Description Line

Google also tweaked the description lines. Instead of the two description lines with a max character count of 35 characters per line, advertisers now get one description line with an 80-character limit. Again, more opportunity to improve your Quality Score, a direct factor in what you pay per click.


Display URL

Google updated the Display URL formatting as well. When a search advertiser inputs his/her final url, the display URL domain will automatically populate. Search advertisers then have two 15-character paths to work with. For automotive dealerships, your display URL might look like this .
Before, advertisers were given a max of 35 characters for the display URL. If you had a long domain name, you wouldn’t have many characters to work with. Now, advertisers get their domain name plus a max of 30 characters as long as the characters fit into the new path format.


New UI Screenshot
(new UI)


Old Search
(old search ad)




New Google Search Ad
(new search ad)


Why You Should Act Now

More isn’t always better, but in this case more is probably better — way better. I’m under the impression that standard text ads and ETAs will show at the same time, at least for a while before standard text ads are discontinued. Google has announced that AdWords will no longer support the creation or editing of standard text ads after October 26th, 2016.


So imagine if you have a competitor who can take up more real estate on the Google SERP page, improve his/her Quality Score with extra characters, increase his/her CTR, and decrease costs by improving Ad Rank with just a little effort.


Your competitor will pay less for a better position on the SERP page and push your paid search ads and/or organic content down and out of sight in the process. You’ll lose out on countless clicks while you catch up. Don’t let this happen to you.


Here is how you can transition your standard text ads into expanded text ads…

How to Transition to Google Expanded Text Ads

Ever since Google announced these changes in late April, we’ve been converting our clients’ standard text ads to the new Google ETA format.


Note: you’ll need to have intermediate knowledge of the AdWords Editor to follow this process.


First, you’ll need the AdWords Editor version 11.5 or later. If you don’t have it, you’ll need to download it. Don’t worry, it’s free. Once you have the AdWords Editor, you’ll need to download your AdWords account into the editor and select the “Ads and Extensions” view found in the bottom right column (see below).


Adwords Editor
(bottom left in AdWords Editor)


Next, you’ll simply highlight everything on the main screen and paste it into a spreadsheet. I typically get rid of all the columns except for the following:






Description Line 1

Description Line 2

Device Preference

(see below)


New Column Titles

Headline 1

Headline 2

Description Line

Path 1

Path 2
The next step is to create your new columns for your updated text ads. You’ll need two new headline columns and one new description line column. We put these headline columns to the right of their respective old column so rewrites are streamlined. We also put character counters next to each column so we can keep up with the character counts. Use the =length( function to add counters.

Column Spreadsheet Setup
(column spreadsheet setup)

Make sure you use the column titles from above. When you import this spreadsheet into AdWords, the columns will automatically match with the correct corresponding fields.


Now you have your spreadsheet setup, and you are free to rewrite your Google text ads based on the old ones with the new formatting in mind sans compromising your AdWords account structure.


Your finalized spreadsheet should import seamlessly into the AdWords Editor where you can make the changes live once they are finalized.


Pro Tips:


Use the =concatenate( formula to combine the description line one and description line two into a single column. I found this helped while rewriting for our new description line.


If you’re rewriting lots of ads, put a space between each adgroup and format a background color for each cell that will need to have new ad content added to it. Otherwise you’ll be staring at a wall of text.


Freeze the first row – so the column names follow you down the spreadsheet.


I highly recommend that you act now for Google ETAs if you haven’t started yet. At the very least, you’ll have first mover’s advantage and probably reap benefits while competitors catch up. Our team has spent weeks in preparation, updating our copy and approach, to get our clients the absolute best return on investment. Google recommends that we use a combination of ETAs and Standard Ads as the ETAs roll out so keep this in mind as your data may fluctuate.


If you have an agency or third party company that manages your Google Paid Search Marketing efforts, I’d recommend simply asking them what the ETA is on your ETAs (couldn’t help myself). If they don’t have a plan in place, you might want to light a fire under their … derriere. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, you might want to fire them all together (but get account access first if you don’t already have it!)


If you’re interested in a free Google or Bing account audit or you’d like more information on Paid Search Marketing, we’d love to discuss your goals. My name is Mike Ayer, and I am the Paid Search Specialist with Reunion Marketing.  We’ve worked in a number of industries from Automotive to Healthcare to Education. We’d love to partner with you.

Bing Ads Afterthought

Bing will update their Advertising Platform to mirror AdWords within the year. If you import your AdWords campaigns to Bing – you’ll need to wait until they update their platform.




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