Google Ad Copy: Expanding the Expanded Text Ads

By Caryn Tate, Senior Digital Media Buyer

It's been a busy few months for Google when it comes to ad copy. After recently rolling out its beta for responsive search ads, it took ad copy updates one step further in the month of September. What Google called "expanded text ads" since their debut, will now be simply referred to as "text ads," and come with even more character fields.

With all the changes, we thought it'd be helpful to look back at Google's recent ad history. Here's a brief timeline of those changes:

Google Ads Copy Changes Timeline

  • Prior to July 2016: Text ads are the main search ad format, featuring:
    • 1 headline, 25 characters long
    • 2 description lines, 35 characters each
    • Total: 95 characters
  • July 2016: Google announces expanded text ads, which contain:
    • 2 headlines, 30 characters each
    • 1 description line, 80 characters long
    • Total: 140 characters
  • January 2017: Google phases out updates to text ads, now referred to as "standard text ads"
  • May 2018: Responsive search ads roll out as a Beta with:
    • 3 headlines, 30 characters each
    • 2 description lines, 90 characters each
    • Total: 270 characters
    • These ads are unique because we write up to 15 headlines and 4 description versions and allow Google to "pick" which variations serve to create the highest intent
  • September 2018: Expanded text ads become text ads and feature:
    • 3 headlines, 30 characters each
    • 2 description lines, 90 characters each
    • Total: 270 characters

So, now you may be wondering why Google rolled out such similar ad formats in such a short time frame. We suspect this is the result of quick adoption of the RSA format. At Thruline, we made it a priority to build out RSAs knowing the importance of additional characters in increased user engagement, and suspect other advertisers had a similar sentiment.

Although it may seem easy to switch solely to RSAs or text ads because of the equal character limits, we plan to utilize both ad formats moving forward understanding the importance of testing.

For those accounts where we have historic RSA data, we will utilize information about winning combinations to guide us in copywriting these longer text ads. For those campaigns with less history from RSA ads, we plan to launch RSAs alongside new text ads with similar copy to monitor which format Google tends to serve more frequently.

While this ad copy update is the latest from the world of Google AdWords, it certainly won't be the last with the upcoming holiday season. We, as the digital media team at Thruline, make it our policy to win together with our partners, getting ahead of the latest updates and testing to provide the best results.

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Caryn Tate, Senior Digital Media Buyer