The world is moving to mobile, where buying decisions are made in “micro-moments.” As part of that trend, Google has phased out those blocky right-side ads that work well on computer screens but don’t fit phones. Tied to that move are expanded text ads, designed to make the most of the single-stream mobile format.

The new ads, which debuted on July 25, offer longer headlines and more descriptive text—140 characters in all—as opposed to the single headlines and tiny text blurbs of the past. Here is an example of old vs. new, and the added power of the new format:

“These upgrades help your ads work harder across screens, especially for the on-the-go mobile consumer who wants to know exactly what you offer before tapping into your website,” said Google’s Senior Vice President, Ads and Commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy.

As a Premier Google Partner, G5 was given access to the new format well before its official release. So we went right to work running A/B tests on expanded ads for each of the markets we serve, to ensure our customers get the most from this new opportunity.

Here’s what we focused on in three of our markets, and, more importantly, what we learned. For headlines, we tested a traditional call to action—always favored by marketers—against a promotional offer or a basic informative headline (called a “control”). For descriptions, we tested a narrative (storytelling) style against an informative style.

In all markets, we ran tests on headlines and descriptive text, but not both at the same time. (Testing more than one variable per ad group makes it difficult to know which variable—or combination of variables—is linked to the results.) As you scan the ads and results, be aware that a small margin in click-through rate (CTR) can have a big effect on a client’s ROI.

Check Out the Results




What We Learned Overall

While this is only the beginning of forming hypotheses and testing expanded ad text elements, these preliminary tests in three markets hold a number of valuable lessons. They also reveal pathways and question assumptions that we will be testing further in the coming months.

For example, headlines that demand immediate action continue to lose effectiveness, compared to other approaches that seem to perform better on mobile. More testing will tell us why, and how to refine those other approaches for maximum effect. 

There is no doubt that the expanded headlines and descriptions can do even more than standard ads. It’s amazing what a few more characters and words can say. Expanded text ads are a new opportunity for businesses to get their messages to consumers in their micro-moments of need, and G5 is excited to be on the forefront of their potential.