AdWords Expanded Text Ads now Live

D-Day for AdWords copywriters and Google’s editorial review team has arrived; the previously announced global rollout of Expanded Text Ads occurring on July 27 (local time).

The new mobile-focussed ad format is a major change to the standard version and the character restrictions we’ve all grown used to. For those needing the reminder: a 25 character headline, two description lines of no more than 35 characters.

Swanndri create new ad 2

While the change may not sound significant — we now get two headlines of 30 characters each and an 80-character single line description — in practice, it is.

Ads take up more space, while the two-line headline means they also stand out more. But, more than this, the lengthier description line means that copywriters need not, in most cases, scratch their heads trying to find appropriate abbreviations, while struggling to get a natural break between the two description lines.

In writing ETA ads during the Google beta test, and for clients now that ETA ads are available to all accounts, we’ve been able to be more expansive in our copy, naturally enough. But, more than this, with the additional characters (and second headline) ad copy just reads better. Rather than sounding like the breathless words of someone who has just run up all 1,103 steps of Auckland’s Sky Tower, our best ETA copy reads more naturally. Funnily enough, they read like more traditional ad copy (where character limits are never really an issue).

The old format ads are still in use, and new ads can still be written in the old format up until October 26.


Concurrent with the release of Expanded Text Ads, Google has started rolling out updated device bid adjustments to AdWords. The new feature, which lets advertisers set base bid adjustments for mobiles, computers and tablets, is not immediately available in all accounts, however. Complete rollout is expected to take a few months.

Why should you care?

We’re already fans of the new ad format, in case you didn’t realise. The second headline and longer description line give us room to include additional details, but we’re also expecting higher clickthrough rates from the new format.

For the time being, we are working to update ad copy for all our clients. New ads are being written in both the old and new formats, for A/B testing.

As for device bid adjustments, the lack thereof has been a sore point for most advertisers over the past three and a half years (when Google’s introduction of Enhanced Campaigns limited device bidding options). Ad performance for some clients can vary significantly by device type, and the bid adjustment update is long overdue.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.