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Are the new Google AdWords ‘Expanded Text Ads’ working?

Here at BMON, we’ve all spent the summer staring at huge Excel spreadsheets, almost without a break. Any holiday we could grab was more welcome than ever. The reason? We’ve had to update 60 advertisers’ Google AdWords campaigns to the new ‘Expanded Text Ads’ format. And that means many thousands of adverts to be reconfigured. Not that we’re complaining – all this is what we love doing. However, we were desperately hoping the effort was worth it. Now we’re starting to get some answers.

At first glance, Expanded Text Ads are not as dramatic as you might imagine from the description ‘the biggest single change to Google search advertising ever’. Make a search for a widely-sold product type on Google, and see if you can tell which ads at the top of the page are in the new format. In summary, they have more words in them. But we’re seeing some tremendous results, and we’re very happy indeed.

Our strategy – which we’d recommend – was to introduce the new ads alongside the old ones, and let Google alternate them. We didn’t dramatically rewrite them, just used the extra space to add some more information. That way we could properly compare the performance of the two. After 2 to 3 weeks, if the new adverts were performing better, we’d retire the old adverts.

And for almost every set of adverts, performance was indeed better: there’s now a significantly higher figure in the clickthrough rate column. We’ve certainly not come across any single enhancement to adverts in the past which has improved clickthrough rate so much.

We’re currently studying the best performers of all, to see if there’s anything identifiable to explain their particular success, and of course we’re also looking at the few ads where the Expanded Text Ads haven’t shown a benefit. Of course, some of the results will be down to our advertisers having the new-style advertisements while others won’t have changed theirs. But overall, the new format is working well. For those of you who manage your own Google AdWords campaigns, get working on this urgently. For those using an advertising agency, see if their findings match ours.

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