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Ready or not, here they come. Google’s new expanded text ads (ETAs) are live now. But more importantly, the old standard text ads are set to retire October 26 — that’s only two months away. Here’s what the new ad format means for your Adwords, PPC, and SEO strategy going forward.

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What Are Expanded Text Ads (ETAs)

At the May Google Performance Summit, the search giant created the biggest shake-up to AdWords in its 15-year history with the announcement of ETAs. Namely, that Google’s PPC display ad standard of 25-35-35 — a 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines — would be replaced with a 30-30-80 system. Two 30-character headline lines and one consolidated 80-character description line. In addition to the new front-end look, during campaign setup ETAs also automatically grab your final URL, which can then be customized.

The new extra-long text ads also launched with separate device bidding options for AdWords ads and responsive display ads for Google’s native Google Display Network (GDN).

Why ETAs Matter Right Now

With the new longer text ads launching just a few weeks back, officially, we’re in an overlap period. You can still create and upload standard text ads, in addition to the new ETAs. According to Search Engine Land, the idea is that advertisers should be using the current overlap period to A/B test both types of ads, with the idea being to learn how to maximize CTR and ROI for the new format ads.

Again, there’s a limited time to do this, as Google as reported October 26, 2016 as the sunset date for standard text ads — after that date, advertisers won’t be able to start new standard format text ad campaigns. However, as yet Google hasn’t said when standard text ads created before then will cease to work.

How These Changes Leverage Mobile

Google has made no secret of its devout belief in mobile-first technology — mobile friendliness, Google accelerated mobile pages, etc. There’s a similar underpinning to the new AdWords features being rolled out.

Google notes that 90% of users start an activity on one device and finish it on another. The search giant is pushing advertisers to factor in this “cross-device behavior” when planning text ad campaigns.

Owing to this multi-device behavior, Google is rolling out the ability to set bid adjustments for mobile, tablet, and desktop ETA versions. This is something veteran advertisers will remember was lost with Enhanced Campaigns. It’s now on the way back (though not here yet). However, the company is also pushing its automation bidding tools, called Smart Bidding.

Google’s responsive display ads will also take advantage of all mobile and tablet formats have to offer.

What Google Recommends for Your Next Ad

As far as how to proceed with ETAs, Google makes three recommendations:

  • Write ads that elicit appeal across all devices.
  • Take advantage of those longer character limits.
  • Focus on crafting great headlines.

Let’s take on each of those a bit further.

Since there’s an emphasis on users moving between devices as they go about their tasks, ads need to work on any device for the best performance. Advertisers that master this skill will be the bigger winners of ETAs. Added tips from Google are to make sure you appeal to mobile users by directing them to mobile-friendly URLs.

As the company notes, the new ETAs have more than double the character count of the old text ads. Google notes that advertisers can use this space for “deeper messaging” that focuses on “what you and your users care about.” The search giant also points out that the two 15-character URL path fields can be used to sell a user on their click-through destination and build confidence that a click will be worthwhile.

Lastly, Google gives advertisers a pep talk about writing good headlines. “What you put into that space will be a big indicator of how enticing your ad text is… The content and quality of your headlines matters and will determine how well your ads perform.”

When Google marches ever forward with new features like these, there will be those that manage to keep afloat and those that catch a perfect 10-point wave. You want to be in the second group. And you can be. There’s ample opportunity to get started now split-testing old and new text ads and learning how to make the most of this new opportunity going forward.

Need a hand with that? A full-service digital agency can help you get the most from Google’s new Expanded Text Ads (ETAs). Call us at 313-338-9515 or email to learn how we can help.