Long live expanded text ads: how to embrace long-form ad copy

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Long live expanded text ads: how to embrace long-form ad copy

The sun has set on Standard Text Ads (STAs), and we’re waving goodbye to the days of 25/35/35 length ads. Advertisers are now only able to create longer Expanded Text Ads (ETAs, or now just “text ads”).

As it stands any existing STAs will still show, but any advertisers who have yet to embrace ETAs should be on top of it ASAP. The writing is on the wall and longer ads are the new standard.

Alongside this change, Google has rolled out some exciting new IF functions, previously announced last year. These build upon the existing functionality of ad customisers by adding two new targeting criteria: device and audience. To use these customisers you can add the following to any part of an ad (aside from the final URL) and it will change dependent on the device or audience.

{=IF(device=mobile,text to insert):optional default text}


{=IF(audience IN(<userlist1>,<userlist2>),text to insert):optional default text}

The AdWords interface will help you out when creating these, but currently only seems to show a prompt for mobile targeted ads – if you want to use Audience targeted ads you just need to use the syntax above.

Device Targeted Ads

IF(Device) allows for us once again to target our creative per device. Accounting for user context has been a theme Google has been pushing since Enhanced Campaigns, and device tailored ads have been a notable admission since ETAs were introduced.

Some advertisers have been sticking to mobile preferred STAs alongside a cross device ETA, but the fact we can now keep a device tailored ad and take advantage of the longer ETA format is great news given the challenge mobile continues to present to advertisers.

The one question mark here is around tablets in particular – as it stands, the device function only seems to support mobile. It was encouraging that we got tablet device modifiers last year and it’d be nice to also have this option available to us through ad customisers.

Audience Targeted Ads

Audience specific ads have been a long time coming, given the ever-increasing importance of audiences when it comes to driving account performance. I would suspect that customising ads per audience was an underused feature across many advertisers, as this previously necessitated duplicating ad groups or campaigns.

This can really add to the management overhead in an account (especially if you want to do this for multiple audiences), and there was always a bit of cost/benefit analysis before going ahead. By giving us to the option to customise both ads and bids by audiences without splitting anything out, this massively eases the process and seems very likely to increase uptake.

There are a few caveats with this feature, however. The key one is around how best to report on performance (for example: should we have regular ad alongside a device ad, or rely on the default text and segmentation?).

Currently the recommended approach is to just run with a single IF ad and then segment out performance, but this does raise questions of measurement if you wanted to run both device and audience specific ads, and how the system handles both rotation & reporting – hopefully this is addressed in the future.

There are also a few targeting options that we can’t use IF customiser for, with age and gender coming to mind. These are fairly new options in Search and were only introduced last year, so support may come further down the line.

As a bonus these seem to be fully supported by AdWords Editor 17.0, so getting these live across accounts can be done swiftly – we’re looking forward to seeing how we can use these new functions in the future.

How are you going to take advantage of Expanded Text Ads? Get in touch with us @rocketmill.