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Neil Astin, Head of SEM

The author

Neil Astin

Head of SEM

Back in February, Google announced a big change to desktop search results, removing the right-hand side ads and effectively mimicking the one-column display of mobile search results.

Since then, there’s been a lot of discussion around what will happen with the newly blank space, with questions being asked around how this affects the layout of the standard text ads.

Google has officially answered that question this week at theGoogle Performance Summit with the announcement of ‘Expanded Text Ads’.

As the name suggests, expanded text ads are longer versions of your standard text ad:

Expanded text ads

Why the change?

I guess one way to think about the question would be, why not? With all desktop ads now in the one column format, there’s more space available per ad. Likewise, with mobile device screens getting larger, there is more space on mobile which AdWords can utilise.

For a more concise answer, we need to focus on mobile. As a mobile user, I don’t want to have to tap through an ad and wait for the page to load (and eat my data) just to find out that actually, this isn’t quite what I was looking for.

Bearing that in mind, mobile users benefit from as much information as possible in an advert before clicking through to the site, so having an almost 50% increase in characters available in this format is great for us as advertisers and as users.

Although mobile is the primary focus of this change, the new consistency of the ad format across all screens allows this to be comfortably rolled out on all devices.

The new ad format offers much more flexibility in the shape of the text ad to fit with a range of device shapes and sizes.

Google will be able to move the headlines and description line into different formats to suit the particular device and so be much more responsive:

Example expanded text ads

Epiphany testing expanded ads

Although expanded text ads have only just been recently announced during the Google Performance Summit keynote, through Epiphany’s relationship with the Google agency team, we had advanced notice of the closed beta of this product.

One particular client of ours operates in a sector which is often limited in the use of ad extensions due to AdWords’ policy, this means that on occasion it is difficult to include full product info as well as USPs in the ad text.

We quickly identified that expanded text ads was a great solution to these challenges and so with the help of our Google team, our client’s account was one of the first three UK advertisers to access this feature, and although it’s still early days, we’re finding the flexibility of the expanded ads very beneficial when looking at our ad copy testing plan.

Often, the largest gains to be made by some of the AdWords innovations are by being an early adopter of these features and it’s great that our close working relationship with Google affords us this opportunity.