Expanded text ads – best practice guide


Rowan OShea


What are they?

Expanded text ads are the new PPC ad format that Google has recently announced and begun to roll out. Originally, we had a headline worth 25 characters and two 35-character description lines. In expanded text ads we have two 30-character headlines and one long 80-character description line.

Expanded Ads Pic 1

The display URL has also slightly changed – instead of writing whatever you want in 25 characters, the domain is now pulled through automatically and you input a ‘path 1’ and ‘path 2’ (shown in the example above).

Note: Don’t just rely on expanded text ads. Google has recommended keeping your old ads as well as your new ones. This is because expanded ads don’t have 100% coverage yet so if you fully rely on them, you could be missing out on a lot of impressions. It’s also a good idea to do this so you can compare results.

Best practices

Expanded text ads will be a lot of work since it essentially involves replacing all your current ads in all of your campaigns. Don’t be tempted to just stick a new headline 2 on the end and combine your two description lines.

  • Firstly, you’re missing out on at least 10 characters in the description line and five in headline one.
  • Secondly, how often are your headlines and description lines exactly at the character limit? Chances are you’re missing out on more than 15 characters! If you’re going to do expanded text ads, then do it properly and get re-writing.

Another tip we’ve found is that headline 2 is a great way to highlight promotions. In the old style, the headline is used to make sure the keyword or your brand is in it, now you have the chance to make a promotion just as visible and you should take it.

Have a look at the examples below:

Old Style Text AdExpanded ads 3 v.2Expanded Text Ad With Just An Extra Headline 2Expanded ads pic 4Expanded Text Ad using the full character limitsExpanded Ads Pic 5


It’s still early days but we are certainly seeing significant differences in click through rate. When checking results, it’s important to make sure your ad rotation settings are on ‘rotate indefinitely’ and that you are not including data from search partners. Below are the results we’ve seen in a few non-brand campaigns.

Expanded Ads pic 6 - table

Expanded ads pic 7

If your account is eligible for expanded text ads then get them live as soon as you can, it will be a great way to stand out against your competitors. The screenshot of a SERP result for “health insurance” below shows you just this. The first ad may be at the top of the page but the ads in positions three and four stand out so much more – I know which ad I would click!