In this morning, support for Google’s brand new Expanded Text Advertisements (ETAs) dropped in the AdWords interface. When AdWords’ big reveal at the #GoogleSummit back in June, advertisers have been awaiting this new, more robust advertisement format, which has been deemed the biggest adjustment to the AdWords model when its inception 16 years ago.
ETAs were not expected to come out of beta until September, so most advertisers were fully unprepared to wake up this morning, log into their accounts & discover that they could indeed make these giant text ads.
Excited as we may be with regards to this adjustment, it’s also a bit terrifying. I would not blame you if your reaction this morning was to fast close your browser, wish you can un-see the ETA implementation interface & pray that your clients or bosses or co-workers remain blissfully unaware of the early release. The authenticity is, while the end result will be rewarding, re-writing all of your advertisement copy is going to be a great, painful undertaking.
[NOTE: We’ve made a brand-new guide & checklist to help you take advantage of these new adjustments. Download it here!]
Should you bite the bullet or crawl back in bed & ignore the ETA update? I would argue that your best bet is to cancel your afternoon ideas, buy a carton of Red Bulls & power through that ad copywriting. Here is why:
#1. Beat Your Challengers to the Punch
Google will eventually sunset standard text advertisements, making ETAs the norm. As with major migrations, there will be a bit of a time lag between the freedom of the new format & the elimination of the old one, giving advertisers time to create the transition themselves. Though Google has yet to announce when advertisements “as we know them” will be retired, my guess is that this adjustment will hit sometime in Q4 2016.
In the next 3-5 months, SERPs will display a mix of standard & ETA ads.
Think receiving these 2 ads alongside one another on the SERP. The ETA is the standard ad on steroids. It is so huge that it automatically demands more attention than the standard advertisement, plus its messaging is more informative & more compelling. Who would not be drawn to the ETA?
In fact, our study shows that ETAs almost always win. We have multiple accounts in this beta & the vast majority has experienced heightened CTR. These extraordinary trends are unlikely to progressive after the mass-migration. We expect that ETAs will perform better than standard advertisements did in general, but will the difference be this stark when all advertisements look the same? Probably no.
Take gain of this unique situation while you can. Let your ETAs up & running before your competitors do & benefit from these temporary and inflated CTRs. Not only will you score more site traffic, you will likely see a nice little boost in Quality Scores. (Need more help? Get our checklist for making Expanded Text Ads!)
#2. Figure Out What Works Early On
Think you have an ad copy formula that works down pat for every of your ad groups? I would be willing to bet that you did not come up with it on the first try. You have likely spent years iterating on it, testing it & honing it into that perfect copy. If you are playing things smart, you are still running tests against it. Unluckily, with the ETA transition, that “tried & true” copy may no longer cut it.
When we first advantaged access to the ETA beta, we expected the advertisement transition to be fairly simple. We took our best performing advertisements, tacked on a second headline & set them off and running.
We soon found that this approach was failing us. In fact, these advertisements yielded poorer CTRs than our standard advertisements (they are responsible for the CTR loss noted in the graph below).
We ditched the old format’s best practices & started running new ad variations that took advantage of ETAs’ lengthier character counts & keyword-based description paths. The new combinations had significantly higher CTRs & for the past few weeks, we have continued to test new approaches.
The new ads are a different beasts & advertisers must be willing to test multiple iterations of them. You do not have to completely reinvent the wheel for your ETAs. You can definitely port over strong components of your existing advertisements to get started. However, it will take a few tries before you figure out what amalgamation work best for you, so the earlier you begin, the better off you will be!
#3. Experience Less Job-Induced Pain
We do not know the official date that standard advertisements will be retired, but we do know that it is definitely going to happen sooner or later. Many believe that the ad sunset is likely to occur the end of 2016, potentially smack dab in the holiday season.
Let’s be honest, the holiday season is brutal for marketers. That Black Friday and Christmas sprint are jam packed with to-dos & the idea of adding a full account’s worth of advertisement rewrites to your list is terrifying at best.
Do not be the guy who is drinking eggnog alone all night, lamenting his summer of procrastination. Take this early freedom as an opportunity to get ahead of the curve & start prepping your ads. Even if you only do a couple of advertisement groups a week, it will be well worth your while!
Be sure to check out my colleague Mark Irvine’s seven best practices for writing new expanded text advertisements .