August 24, 2016
At the Google Performance Summit in June, the search giant announced (among other things) that AdWords PPC (pay-per-click) ads were getting an overhaul in a major way. After conducting extensive testing on the format of these long-standing ads, Google discovered that more copy equaled higher clickthroughs. (An improvement of up to 25 percent.) For that reason, the creation of Expanded Text Ads was brought into being and was released to the public Aug. 1.
The new AdWords ads offer advertisers two 30-character headlines (instead of the former one 25-character headline) and a single line with a total of 80 characters of content (previously two lines of 35 characters each).
As you can see in this before-and-after image, Google displays the traditional AdWords layout side-by-side with the new format.
On its blog, Google explains, “Our research shows longer ad headlines are more useful to mobile users because they provide additional information about your business before they click your ad.”
Google goes further on its AdWords Help page, suggesting, “Don’t simply add a second headline to your existing ads. Rethink your entire ad creative. Building a connection with someone through an ad can be tough. Additional characters allow you to provide consumers with more insight into your offering.”
The Stumbling Block for Most PPC Advertisers
And here’s where a lot of businesses trip up. What in the world are you going to say? Unfortunately, many companies immediately begin to throw together lists of what they want to say to customers. That doesn’t mean, however, that this is what customers want to hear.
As Google talks about writing genuine copy, it recommends “craft messaging that focuses on user needs and benefits. The best way to show value to a user is to think about their needs and benefits. Users respond to ads that include concepts that are important to them. Focus on what a user gets by visiting your site. Things like reliability or trustworthiness (ex. “official site”), a wide selection (ex. “view our inventory”), and whatever else someone could want before visiting your site. Although those specific benefits will vary from industry to industry, start the ad copy writing process by thinking about your users.”
That’s good advice, but doesn’t offer any specifics. Good thing I have a few in my back pocket.
3 Creative Ideas for Writing Exceptional Short Copy for AdWords Expanded Format
NOTE: These strategies work phenomenally with AdWords (or other PPC ads) as well as when writing bullet points, headlines, blog post titles, social media posts, and lots of other short copy.
1. Answer Questions – People want to know what to expect when they get to your site. Using your additional characters to answer questions can result in higher clickthrough rates. For example, this local plumber now has a lot of extra room to communicate with potential customers.
I’d suggest something along the lines of:
$50 Off Expert Plumbers w/Same-Day Service-Columbia SC
Yes! We guarantee our work. A+ BBB rating means it’s fixed right the first time.
If the question about guaranteeing your work isn’t something most leads ask, answer a different question. Or create an entirely new campaign with ads that answer numerous questions.
2. Solve a Problem – One of the primary reasons people do an online search is to find solutions to their issues. Have constant headaches? Search Google for possible relief. Need an affordable vacation? Google has lots of options. Use your expanded text to highlight how your product / service / company can solve the searcher’s problem.
When I typed in “affordable vacation rentals,” here are some of the ads I found…
The “short-term rentals from $49/night” is good. That solves a problem for people searching for an affordable option right off the bat. The number of listings also interested me, and would solve a problem for people who didn’t know where they really wanted to go.
But ‘2015 Innovative Brand of the Year – Marketing Magazine?’ Would your average person even know what Marketing Magazine is? Or care? In my opinion, that’s a waste of space. If it were an award that their target customers could relate to, it would be different.
To fill the space where the award is now, AirBNB could solve additional problems with copy that states “no deposit required” (if that is true) or something else that would appeal to those searching for an affordable vacation.
3. Use Statistics – Everybody loves stats. They look clinical and accurate and impressive. That’s why they work so well in PPC ads (and lots of other short copy).
Thirty percent more data? Wow … count me in. I do think they could do a lot better by including useful information instead of a generalized company slogan like “The Best Network Just Got Better.” Connect with your audience using that space with copy such as “Watch more videos, surf the Web longer and stay in touch without overages.”
Karon Thackston is president of Marketing Words Copywriting Agency helping Amazon sellers, eCommerce site owners and content marketers rank higher, convert better and make more sales.