How to Test Expanded Text Ads

By Brad

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Ad Testing, Ads

In the upcoming months; you’ll have to upgrade all of your ads to the expanded text ad format. The new format has longer headlines and a single description line.

There are a few ways to text your expanded text ads (ETAs), and we’ll walk through the various scenarios, advantages, and disadvantages for testing.

What are ETAs?

If you’re unfamiliar with ETAs, they contain two headlines of 30 characters and a single long description line that can be up to 80 characters.

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You can see an example of how they look before (old text) and after (ETAS):

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The ETA Testing Scenarios

There are two main approaches being used in testing ETAS:

  • Compare your old text ad data to ETAs
  • Test ETAs against each other

Let’s walk through the scenarios and how to accomplish each task.

Compare Your Old Text Ads to ETAs

The most common testing being done is quite simple and uses 3 ads:

    • Ad 1: Your old text ad. In most cases, the d1 should end in a period so you get extended headlines, so it’s a better comparison to the new ETA format.
    • Ad 2: An ETA where the old description line 1 has been promoted to the new headline 2
      • The primary headline stays the same
      • In some cases, he description line 2 becomes the new description line. In other scenarios, users are adding additional text to the description line since it’s 80 characters long.
    • Ad 3: An ETA where the old description line 2 has been promoted to the new headline 2
      • The primary headline stays the same
      • In some cases, he description line 1 becomes the new description line. In other scenarios, users are adding additional text to the description line since it’s 80 characters long.

Advantages

The advantage of this type of testing is that you can compare ETAs versus your old ads. Since your old ads are your benchmark performance data, this will let you see if you are doing better or worse with ETAs than with the old text ads. As some users have reported higher CTRs and others lower CTRs, the performance of these ad types has been very mixed.

This type of testing lets you see:

  • How your ETAs will preform
  • If you should focus the new headline 2 around a call to action, benefit statement, or what overall headline 2 is going to preform best for you
    • Many companies want to use multi-ad group testing (also known as pattern or template testing) to see how these ad formats work across entire segments of their accounts

Disadvantages

The main disadvantages to using this type of testing is that eventually you will have to use only ETAs so comparing them to old ads isn’t going to help your performance in the future. If you need to give your company estimates on volume differences, what to expect, and so forth, then you do need to test ETAs vs your old text ads for projection purposes.

If you are only looking for the best way to structure and test ETAs going forward, then comparing to your old ads isn’t going to give you those insights.

Other Considerations

The major obstacle that companies run into with this testing is the character limits. The old description lines could be 35 characters. The new headline 2 is only 30 characters. So if you just try to promote all your description line 1 or 2s to the new headline 2; you’ll probably have some rejected ads due to character limit issues. If you’re going to go this route, make sure you have a secondary text that you can use when the old description lines don’t fit with the new lines.

The other consideration is the description line. The new description is 80 characters. If you’re dealing with large numbers of ads, you might write some common descriptions that work across entire segments of your account (brand, product focused, service types, etc) and use multi-ad group testing for the description lines across these segments to use a more compelling description than 35 characters would allow during your upgrade process. In your top ad groups, you’ll custom write the descriptions and in your lesser data ad group, use the data from your top ad groups or multi-ad group testing to understand what description lines to use.

Test ETAs Against Each Other

Some companies are resigned to the fact their old data won’t be worth too much going forward. Instead of testing ETAs versus their old ads, they are creating new ads from scratch and testing them against a templated upgrade approach.

For instance, you might take your old ads and do this:

      • Ad 1: An ETA written from scratch where you don’t look at your old ads when creating the new ETA
      • Ad 2: An ETA where the old description line 1 has been promoted to the new headline 2
        • The primary headline stays the same
        • In some cases, he description line 2 becomes the new description line. In other scenarios, users are adding additional text to the description line since it’s 80 characters long.
      • Ad 3: An ETA where the old description line 2 has been promoted to the new headline 2
        • The primary headline stays the same
        • In some cases, he description line 1 becomes the new description line. In other scenarios, users are adding additional text to the description line since it’s 80 characters long.

This type of testing will show you if there’s a huge performance gain from re-imagining your ads and starting completely over. If you find that ad 1 (the brand new ad) is a lot better than a more templated approach, then you should write brand new ads across your top ad groups. Test the data there, and then inherit the data down into your lower performance ad groups. If you find that there’s little performance difference between an ad that was written from scratch versus one that was upgraded, then you can focus more on how to upgrade ETAs across your account.

Advantages

The advantage of this type of testing is that all the data you generate will be applicable in the future. As you’re just looking to test the future of text ads without being tied to your old data and ads, all the data you generate is useful.

Disadvantages

The primary disadvantage is time. If you have a small account, then you can go through this process. If you have a large account, then custom writing thousands or millions of ads just isn’t practical. In those cases, you need to go through some sort of systematic upgrade process and use multi-ad group testing to understand which of your upgrade and template based ideas are going to preform best for you. You should still test some brand new ads in your top ad groups, but you might be relegated to using templates and formulas for testing in your other thousands of ad groups.

Upgrade Tools

Adalysis is in the midst of developing several types of upgrade tools. These tools will let you easily upgrade all your ads at once, or just segments of your ads.

As we understand the character limit considerations and the need to ‘backup text’ when your description lines are too long for the new formats, or when you are using custom display URLs, we will have some basic tools this week that let you just upgrade ads without a lot of customization, but it will be very simple to do, and another tool that is very robust and will let you customize the ads, choose what lines to promote, and customize lines with character limits as necessary very soon.

These tools should hit the market from Adalysis in the next week or two.

ETA Wrap Up

As ETAs are an entirely new ad format, and one of the biggest changes ever to how you use search advertising, don’t just upgrade your ads with a single formula and call that good enough. Users are going to interact with these ads differently than ones in the past. You will have different ad copy lines that do well in the future that were rarely seen in the past. Think through your testing process before you start upgrading large amounts of your ads to ETAs so that you can understand how users are going to interact with your ads and use the best ones possible.

Ads are the only part of your PPC account that users see.

Make sure what searchers are seeing is a relevant to the search query and the. user. Then always make sure your ads showcase why a user should click on your ad and become your next customer.

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