Google Ads – Text Ads expand in length again… with a difference

Google Ads – Text Ads expand in length again… with a difference

29 Nov 2018, by Camilla Pettica


A couple of years ago Google rolled out expanded search ads giving advertisers more space to promote their offerings.  On average, click through rates increased by more than 20% thanks to the change.  Since then, Google has continued to roll out changes giving advertisers even more advertising real estate.  This has been done by introducing price extensions, message extensions, app extensions and increased character limits.

Over this time we’ve also seen mobile device usage increase and mobile devices get bigger and bigger.  Globally there are 3.5 billion Google searches per day and Google has advised that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including US and Japan”. To satisfy this trend for information and larger devices, Twitter expanded its character limit late last year from 140 characters to 280 characters.  Unsurprisingly, Google has just followed suit.

The latest expansion means text ads can now be bigger and better than ever - with a catch.  So what are the changes?

Optional extra headline

Advertisers can take advantage of an optional extra headline.  The first two headline fields are required, while the new third headline is optional. The new headline field allows you to include additional text in your ads. You can use up to 30 characters per headline. The headlines will appear next to each other, separated by a vertical pipe ("|"). Depending on the size of your potential customer’s screen, they may wrap to a second line. 

Optional extra description field

Google has generously given us both a new description field and more characters!  Character limits have been increased on both description fields from 80 characters to 90 characters.  Yay!  This will give you more space to test new ad messaging and the opportunity to take up more prime search engine result page (SERP) real estate.  This can be leveraged to increase click through rates (CTR) from qualified leads.

What’s the catch?

The difference to previous expansion changes to search Ads is this time the additional headline and description are not always guaranteed to show.  If there is not enough space for the ad, your ad will show without the third headline or second description.  However, your first and second headlines and first description will always show – just like they do today.

What does this mean for you?

You can leave your Google Ads in their current format and everything will keep doing what it was doing.  However, your competitors may start to write new longer ads, potentially giving them an advantage.  Google claims the new expanded ads have received 15% more clicks.  This may not be the outcome for your campaigns but I would recommend writing new longer ads and testing them against the shorter ones you have running.

Since Google won’t always show the third headline and second description line, you need to make sure that all your critical copy is there with just two headlines and one description. The worst case scenario would be having an incomplete nonsensical ad showing up in the search results – negatively representing your brand.  I recommend using the new third headline and second description to enhance and reinforce your unique selling propositions.  Talk about additional services, your brand or add an additional call to action.

Good luck!  And if this sounds interesting but a little confusing give us a shout!