PPC – Reboot your text ads with this toolkit evaluation

PPC - Reboot your text ads with this toolkit evaluation


Over the past 18 months, we’ve gone from legacy ads to expanded text ads to newly expanded text ads to responsive search ads. Which ones work better? How should I transition? The “Text Ad Reboot” session at SMX West gave attendees a lot of information to consider to make your text ads work best for you.

Embracing ad personalization: Use all the available tools

Sean Murphy emphasized how the text ad reboot is all about personalization. All the power behind machine learning and artificial intelligence is helping advertisers to send individualized ad messages to users. This allows us to customize our experiences in ways we haven’t been able to do so before.

Don’t recoil from personalization. Lean in and embrace it. And the way we can embrace it is to understand what’s in your ad copy toolbox and how do they interact with each other. Each of these tools serves a unique purpose.

Tool #1: Expanded text ads – Your set of screwdrivers

Expanded text ads are the screwdrivers. You need a lot of them to be successful, and you cannot get away with just one. When you need to get several questions and best practices you should keep in mind.

  • What do your customers tell you about themselves when they complete a sale?
  • What demographics and audiences does your audience belong?
  • What convinces your customers to want your product?
  • What’s mainly featured on the landing pages you use in your ads?
  • Remember to keep a wide variety of expanded text ads around.
  • Sean tends to see a higher click conversion when paired with smart bidding.

Tool #2: Responsive search ads – The versatile hammer

These ads are not here to replace expanded text ads. Think of them as a catch-all to be useful to explore new combinations and working to not miss out on any incremental impressions. As you’re thinking through RSAs, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Think of going broad.
  • Use a unique landing page for each RSA.
  • Keep checking on your asset combinations.
  • Review the ad strength and suggestions provided by Google.
  • Remove the headlines that are not serving and test new ones.
  • Break out the highest serving headlines into their own expanded text ads.and remove them from your RSAs.

We shouldn’t look at the current text ads as responsive search ads versus expanded text ads. Use them as a complementary toolset.

Tool #3: Ad extensions – Your trusty multi-tool

Before we got into ad personalization in Google, ad extensions were the first step Google made into personalization. And over the last five years, we have seen the variety and options available noticeably increase. Here are some principles to guide you as you dive into ad extensions.

  • More extensions (more real estate) typically perform better.
  • You can find flexible uses for most of the ad extensions.
  • Do not be redundant. You run the risk of losing visibility.
  • Do not contradict the message in your main text ads.
  • If dynamic extensions are showing, you might be missing something valuable.
  • You can opt out of dynamic extensions if you are worried about compliance.

There are a lot of ad extensions advertisers can use. Do not be afraid to test out creative solutions to find ways to make these extensions work for your business.

Ad variations

Ad variations allow you to test small changes to your ads across several campaigns within the same account. Some tips for optimizing the ad variations include innovating your calls to actions. Take your key features and find new ways to rephrase them. Also look at ways to change your adjectives to see if a new variation resonates with users more.

5 tricks for writing new ads after the text ad reboot

Mark Irvine explained that ads from 2000 to 2016 had 90 maximum characters. Ads keep getting larger, and now we are up to 300 characters. This is almost twice as large as the original ads we first used on the Google Ads platform. After running the numbers with his clients at Wordstream, Mark has seen advertisers notice an average CTR boost of 12 percent just by switching to the new ad formats in Google Ads. In Bing Ads, that CTR boost is even great at 22 percent.

But averages can lie. Even though the CTR boost in Google was 12 percent, 1 in 3 saw insignificant or no CTR change. Why are some people struggling with the new change? What we see is the third headline or the second description might not show. So if the ad we write may not be the one that shows, we need to remember five important tips.

#1: Focus on the elements that matter most

If the third headline and second description of our ads are not guaranteed to show, we cannot rely on these components to relay our critical messaging. Since certain elements of your ad may not show you should focus on the following:

Don’t fall into the habit of just testing the new elements of an expanded text ad. More space is great, but you may not see any incremental gains from your tests. Regardless of whether or not your ad shows up the way you dreamed it to be, you need to keep the original expanded text ad components as your main testing pieces.

#2: Write strong, independent elements in your ads

Your first and second headlines need to be an independent clause. This means the first two headlines need to make sense and are complete on their own. Your third headline should be a dependent clause. Mark then gave a list of conjunctions and prepositions to avoid ending your second headline or first description just in case your newly expanded text ad gets shortened.

#3: Write your new fields for who will actually see them

Depending on the length of each field, certain elements of the ad may be truncated or not even show at all on individual devices or screen sizes. It’s funny to say this because most of Google’s searches come from mobile devices, yet Google only showed the third headline 34 percent of the time, and the second description only 26 percent of the time.

A strong third headline and second description are not written for mobile. Instead, write these new expanded text ads fields for desktop only. Or as Mark says, “Write your ads for who is going to see them the most.”

#4: Use your new, longer ads to offer more to Google and your users

Avoid blatant keyword stuffing and repetition. Using the same keywords over and over in an ad will not make it any better because repetition may limit the visibility of your ad. Think of what value you are offering to not only your users but also to Google to make the content of the ad worth showing. Also, revisit your ad extensions to make sure they aren’t just repeating the language in your new ads.

Making the most of responsive search ads

Just by adding all of those elements, you’ll be able to test and optimize over 43,000 different variations of messaging that advertisers would not be able to do themselves manually. But why are responsive search ads doing poorly for many advertisers? Random headlines can mean combinations that do not work well together.

Because of this, advertisers may see an initial CTR decrease. But over time, as Google’s machine learning improves with more data, we do see an improvement in CTR over what a human can test on their own. Generations of ads mean a lot more, and the time of this growth is going to vary depending on the account. Don’t give up to early and keep testing responsive search ads.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Joe Martinez is the Director of Client Strategy for Clix Marketing. While he is hands-on in all aspects of PPC, his true passions lie in Display, Remarketing, and YouTube. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, and WordStream. He has also written for PPC Hero, SEMrush, Unbounce, Leadpages, Optmyzr, and AdStage. He has hosted webinars for SEMrush, Unbounce, Quora and Bing Ads. He regularly speaks at conferences such as SMX Advanced, SMX West, SMX East, HeroConf, Confluence Conference, Digital Olympus and more. Finally, he was named a Top 25 Influential PPC Expert by PPC Hero in 2017 and 2018.
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